October 28, 2015
There was a time in Samantha DeRidder’s early college years that she was unsure of what career she saw in her future – that is, until she refreshed the page on the College of Business and Economics website with the list of undergraduate areas of emphasis, and saw a new addition.
“Honestly, I was just browsing the website, and all of a sudden, it showed up – an area of emphasis in supply chain management – and right there, I knew I had to look into it,” DeRidder said. “I contacted Dr. (Ednilson) Bernardes right away to meet with him about it.”
“’Right away’ is no joke; Samantha called me within minutes of supply chain management curriculum information being posted on B&E’s website. She came right over to my office and we spoke about it right there,” Bernardes said.
“I have, and always will, consider her to be our first-ever student in supply chain management, even if our first encounter was during a time that she was not yet eligible (credits-wise) to register for our classes.”
A native of Long Island, New York, the always-driven DeRidder always knew she wanted to go to a university away from home to step out of her comfort zone and study business. Her choice in coming to West Virginia University has paid off more than ever, she said.
“I fell into supply chain management, and I’m so happy I did,” she said of the program that is only a few years old. “The problem-solving, hands-on environment that the industry entails is exactly what I want for my career. It fits my personality, my lifestyle and what I can see myself doing for years to come.”
DeRidder is a student worker with the WVU Procurement Office, where she works with purchase orders, contracts and writes requests for proposals (RFPs) frequently for different departments throughout the University.
She attributes much of her professional growth to joining the WVU Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA), in which she started out last year as marketing/administration director and was elected to serve as president this year. SCMA hosts a Supply Chain Management 101 event in the spring semester, and has groups of members visit BCOR 199 courses in the fall to inform freshmen of the field of supply chain, and what kind of work the profession can provide for them in the future.
“When you're a freshman, you don't know what to do, and most likely don't know what supply chain management even is," she said. "We hold this event for underclassmen in the spring to get our association's name out there, recruit students, inform them of what the field has to offer, make them aware of the various opportunities for networking and professional growth through the Center for Career Development, feature supply chain professors to come speak about what the field entails and more.”
Since the organization was launched last year, her role of marketing director, which had her working with and meeting a lot of people in the industry, played a big part in the organization's success — as well as her own personal success.
“We have a lot of speakers participate in our meetings to interact with students. Last year we had PLS Logistics, Total Quality Logistics and Exel Logistics speak with us, and it was for this reason that I was able to secure an internship," she said. "Exel came to speak, and I gave them my resume. When they visited WVU for a career fair, I was able to follow up, and I doubt I would’ve stood out to them had we not connected earlier. The involvement that our association has with top people in the industry makes a huge impact on its members’ success."
DeRidder completed the internship with Exel Logistics this past summer in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and learned that working in operations is something she would like to pursue after graduation.
DeRidder spoke to the amount of personal attention that each student receives in the Supply Chain Management program.
“Dr. Bernardes has been so helpful; I feel grateful to him every time he makes a point of introducing me to a top contact in the industry,” she said. "He’s so driven to get this program going and make it successful. Aside from that, he’s extremely involved with the students, emphasizing the importance of getting summer internships, and always pushing us to achieve our best so that we come out of here ready for a job.”
Bernardes believes DeRidder’s future, past her college graduation in May 2016, is bright.
“She will represent us very well, reflecting both the quality of the program and the characteristics of a successful supply chain professional that we are trying to impart on our students,” he said. “We emphasize the ability to approach the area systematically as well as the ability to lead, and I definitely believe she will help transform the supply chain management practices in the world. That has been my personal vision for the program and I know she will represent that vision.”
DeRidder hopes students that come to B&E in the future will take the time to learn what a career in supply chain management is like.
“It’s a growing industry. Every single company has something it needs related to supply chain, whether that’s purchasing or operations or packaging. Whatever company it may be, every one of them has a supply chain somewhere,” she said. “It’s an industry that will never die out, because things are being delivered across the world every single day. It’s a growing industry that is improving every day, and there’s definitely not a shortage of jobs in this field.”