Student Pro-Tips: Here’s How To Survive

There’s been a huge cultural shift in what defines the average college student today, today’s numbers reflect around 75% of college students are now non-traditional students. In the Logistics program where I’m currently enrolled, this is very much reflected.

Out of the 20 or so other students in my class, one is fresh out of high school; everyone else is older and either seeking a career change (self included), wanting to further their already established career, or are truck drivers retiring from driving but still wanting to continue to work. From my understanding, this is standard.

While this field of study is fascinating and wonderful, it also requires a lot of attention to detail and a firm understanding of some computer basics, especially as our technology is ever expanding.  So before enrolling in your logistics course work, heed some advice:

  • Learn excel.
    You don’t have to be a master at it, and if you’re in a good logistics program that’s looking out for you, you’ll wind up taking CTS – which should get you Microsoft Certified in Excel.  But it’s a good idea to get acquainted with it before your logistics classes.  Many of your case studies and simulations will need a basic understanding of excel, how to write formulas, and how to link your sheets.  This may sound overwhelming, but do not let it discourage you.
    Below are some youtube tutorials that I’ve found helpful:
    – Excel Basics
    – Getting Started
    Calculation Formulas
    – Function Formulas
  • Join your local APICS Chapter
    What’s APICS? APICS stands for American Production and Inventory Control Society. It’s a mouthful, that’s why we call it APICS.  They are a valuable resource to have – they offer several different certifications you can obtain that look lovely on resume’s and are worth the effort getting; but they are also very heavily involved in students in the logistics or supply chain field – so much so, that they offer *FREE* membership to students enrolled in the logistics or supply chain program.  You’ll have to prove you’re a student, which is done simply by uploading your class schedule with your application and you’re generally approved in 24-48 hours.  Attend the meetings, go to the conference, get their newsletters.  I do plan on posting later about their different certifications, but for the sake of time, join this organization to start networking.  In this field, most of it is who you know, and you never know what person could lead to a job opportunity or an answer to a problem you’re having at your current job.
  • Clean Up Your Social Media
    With all the networking you’ll be doing once you join APICS, you can bet that people will research you.  Linkedin is worth doing, clean up Facebook, twitter, any online footprint that could cast you in a negative light.  Some people opt to have a Facebook page under a nickname for family/friends and more a business approachable one with their legal name for employers to search; I’m not going to tell you which way is best, but with the internet offering more and more on who someone is before a potential employer even offers them an interview, it will behoove you to “Sell yourself” from the get go.
  • Keep Your Finger On The Pulse Of The Field
    Regulations are forever changing (The trucking industry is getting hit pretty big right now), technology is forever improving (Amazon is going to rule the world), and companies are forever growing (XPO Logistics is going to own all the things).  How do I know all of this?  I check reports, daily, sometimes multiple times a day.  This also means keeping an eye on the worth of the dollar as well as gas prices.  The more you know, the more sense you’ll have in class to dive into discussions – and in this field, knowledge is power.  There’s a few places you can obtain crucial information from:
    – Transport Topics
    – Wall Street Journal – Logistics Report
    – Inbound Logistics
    – Global Logistics Media
  • Be Passionate
    There will be some classes bore you to tears, (let me introduce to the hell that is every regulation ever followed by incoterms) – be passionate anyway.  It’s an exciting field that shapes our global economy and it’s amazing to see how far it’s come and where it’s going.  Your professors will also probably take note – and more than likely, they work in the field, which means you should get a good reference from them if it ever came down to it.  I also find the more passionate you are about something, the more time you’ll want to put into it and know it inside and out.

I wish you all the best as you continue in your education and down your path of logistic enlightenment.  May the statistical odds be ever in your favor.

~M

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