Experiences: Networking leads to valuable connection, results in rewarding summer internship

By Sai Prashanth Reddy Gangula 

Over the summer I had the opportunity to intern with The Estee Lauder Companies. I worked in the global supply planning division, part of the company’s Supply Chain Center of Excellence. As an MBA student concentrating in supply chain management and marketing, it was my first time working on a supply chain assignment and my introduction to the consumer packaged goods industry.

What I enjoyed most was working in a company with thousands of SKUs and a very complex supply chain, with different brands and similar product lines sharing resources such as manufacturing facilities, logistics and warehouse space while being planned and operated independently. It was interesting to see how each brand competes in the market and it was exciting to get an understanding of the dynamics of consumer packaged goods.

The work atmosphere was great because I could interact with executives from different divisions, learn about their roles and gain a deeper perspective of the company as well as the industry.

The way I got the internship was nearly as rewarding.

During the MBA orientation program, we have a course called Career Management Program or CMP (career management program) where we are taught various ways of shaping our career as most of us are changing careers. The course was taught by Dean Vera, director of the MBA Office of Career Management, and in various sessions and guest lectures, he emphasized the importance of networking.

I also remember Professor Eric Larson of the supply chain management department saying: “Networking is not asking for a job, but building a relationship that will help you to land a job at some point.”

I can truly relate to that because it happened to me. Networking helped me to get my internship at The Estee Lauder Companies. This is how I forged a connection that turned out to be quite valuable:

It started at the supply chain management boot camp where Professor Mark Sutterley visited as a guest speaker. Later when I met Professor Sutterley formally at the annual supply chain career fair, I was offered a graduate assistant position to work with him coordinating the online masters of supply chain management program.

After working with Professor Sutterley for a year, I was invited to the annual graduate luncheon at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center with faculty and industry professionals. I was the only student invited because I was working with the department. At the event, I was introduced to John Helleriegel, vice president of global supply planning at Estee Lauder.


Ex-pe-ri-ence: The process of doing and seeing things and of having things happen to you; skill or knowledge that you get by doing something.

I made small talk with Mr. Helleriegel during that first meeting and I expressed enthusiasm to learn more about the industry, the company and the division he was heading. Later I followed it up by reaching out to him on LinkedIn. When the school sent resumes for an internship position later, Mr. Helleriegel recommended me for the position, and that’s how I got an opportunity to work at Estee Lauder.

During the internship, I had the opportunity to work on three different assignments that provided me a comprehensive understanding of supply planning. My first assignment was to investigate the cause for over production and the demand and supply gap for a family of products, the second was to review a new safety stock model proposed for chemical raw materials used for manufacturing, and the third was to analyze supply dynamics for identifying the effect of poor weekly forecast accuracy on service level.

The whole internship experience helped me get much more of an idea of how important a role supply chain plays in industry. While I was working on supply chain planning, I got a chance throughout the program to interact with various divisions such as the procurement, sales and warehouse management, and to understand how each division works in tandem with each other.

Those ten weeks made me more excited about the career path I have chosen and I am eagerly waiting to start the next phase of my career.

For new MBA students looking for an internship – or even undergrads who are looking for an internship – I urge you to start your search early and to use every connection you make. The best place to begin is with those people who surround you – peers, Rutgers alumni, faculty and visiting lecturers.

Make the most of them.

Sai Prashanth Reddy Gangula is an international student from Hyderabad, India. He is completing his second year of the Full-Time MBA Program at Rutgers Business School. He has about 600 connections on LinkedIn. His essay is part of an ongoing feature highlighting the experiences of Rutgers Business School students. 

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