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Old 01-15-2020, 10:40 PM
144 posts, read 144,369 times
Reputation: 143


Greetings all,

I have been using this website to gain a grassroots, on the ground perspective on a variety of subjects over the few years I've been on here. At this point, it's mostly been regarding relocation questions for states that I have been eyeing. For the most part, I received thoughtful, detailed, and helpful responses to my questions. With that, I am hoping to see if I can get solid advice on a different topic: business and my career.


Let me give a summary of where I'm coming from. I am a 25 year old single male who has just recently completed my Master's. I am currently in the United States Army Reserves and will be leaving in the summer to Officer Candidate School, where I will receive a commission and become an Officer. I originally wanted to be a teacher (specifically history, civics, and economics) and so that's what I got my degree in as an undergraduate. I won't go into too many details, but I have since decided against teaching as a primary career, keeping it a viable secondary and/or back up career. I then went to graduate school at a prestigious university and got my Master's in American Government, which is sort of like a combination of Political Science, Public Policy, and Public Administration. I did this, not only because I wanted to attend a prestigious private school for my graduate education (paying the price tag on that now), but because I have a passion for politics, civics, and am drawn to public service. I planned to use this degree to pursue a career in the US Civil Service. I have experience working federal govt jobs. I was going to use my military service to supplement this, as I've noticed that the system is geared towards supporting/favoring veterans. I have personally confirmed this, as there were a considerable amount of veterans working in all kinds of posts while I was working federal govt jobs.

The original plan was to accept a commission as a Military Intelligence Officer and use the benefits/perks associated thereof to pursue a public service career in related intel fields. I've met people who are currently doing so. It was a solid plan that was going accordingly: my request to commission was accepted, I passed my security clearance, and obtained written approval from a Commander at an MI unit to accept me as an Officer in his unit. Then it collapsed when the Army Human Resources Command sent us an email saying that they are overcapacity with MI Officers serving at my rank. Big kick to the teeth.

I was told that I had to pick a different career field and fast--for my application will not remain active for long. I had always planned to translate both what I studied in school and what I did in the military into my civilian career, and so I started to consider which Officer path could conceivably work for me. I narrowed it down to Logistics and Telecommunications (which is called Signals in the Army). After some research, conversation with other Officers, and soul searching: I ended up deciding on Logistics.


So now I'm trying to pursue a career in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. When I ship out for Officer Training, I will attend an extended 4 month training course called Officer Leadership Course in which the Army will teach me what it makes to be a Logistics Manager. However, it will most likely teach what it means to be a Logistics Manager in the military sense, which places a heavy emphasis on sustenance operations. Operations that I do not believe, at least from my research, are as prominent when practicing logistics in the civilian sector. In the meantime between shipping out, I have been studying the theories and practical applications of both Logistics and Supply Chain Management profusely.

As I've said before, I do not have degrees in business. However, I will soon have federal/military training specifically in Logistics Management, as well as years of managerial experience in general. Once I complete my Officer training, I'll initially be in charge of a Platoon which leads anywhere from 15-45 people. I plan to stay in the military at least until I achieve the rank of Captain, in which case I will have had experience leading at the Company level, which leads anywhere from 80-150 people. At the very least, I hope that potential employers will enjoy the fact that I have managerial experience leading dozens of people. The fact that I'll be managing these people in logistical operations will, I hope, lend me credibility and legitimacy. I recognize I have a lot to make up for, since I didn't pursue any degrees relating to this field.

What I suppose I am wondering is what can I do NOW to prepare? To certain extents, I have some very basic logistics experience in my prior work. So far most of my jobs have been administrative by nature, and so I'm familiar with the type of logistics that goes into making an office and its operations run smoothly. With regards to the more traditional types of logistics, I used to work an inventory control job back when I was a teenager. The experience was super limited, it was mostly just helping delivery trucks unload goods and transporting it into the restaurant's basement where we would properly store and organize it. Like I said, super limited, but it's all I got.

I can't depend on my Army career to adequately prepare me for a career in Logistics. My duties will mostly be managerial and require less of being a subject matter expert. Also, I'm in the Reserves, so I will have limited time actually practicing the trade while I'm serving than Active Duty personnel.

I have plenty of time between now and when I ship out for Officer Candidate School. I would really like to dedicate my career to this, even with my late start. I am wondering if you guys have any advice for me on which jobs to focus on in my current situation to get my start in Logistics & Supply Chain Management?

I'll break down my most pressing questions into numbers:

1) What is the organizational structure and/or hierarchy to Logistics and Supply Chain Management? Organization/hierarchy as in, the clerk being below the coordinator, the coordinator under the manager, the manager under the director, and so on and so on. Is there a chart or a manual somewhere that defines this hierarchical structure?

2) Building off of question 1, what entry level logistics jobs should I pursue so that I can begin to build credibility in being a logistics professional, so that I can transfer to a manager position within 2 years’ time?

3) I believe I understand the difference(s) between Logistics and Supply Chain Management, even though the terms are often used interchangeably. Should I go straight into pursuing jobs in Supply Chain Management, since it oversees logistical operations and more, or it is something that's transitioned into after first working in Logistics or Operations Management?

4) Is there any reading material I should check out in preparation of this? How about learning to use certain computer programs such as Oracle--any advice on where/how to get started there?

5) Do you have any additional advice that I should consider? For example, what avenues to pursue/avoid, how to market myself, etc.

Let me emphasis just how much of a blank canvas I am in this--I am open to ANY and ALL suggestions! Please share your insights!
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Old 01-16-2020, 12:35 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
31,828 posts, read 52,398,438 times
Reputation: 40624
I finished off 30+ yr career with a fortune 50 as an international supply chain manager. (for 20+ of those yrs)

Did the progress in same company from cleaning toilets in High School to working skilled trades manufacturing, serving apprenticeship as tool and die maker, getting 4 degrees (1 business and 3 engineering), later did MBA (all free with my company, edu reimbursement).

There are lots of paths, and you need to determine if you are a people manager (boss), or a supplier / product manager (working away from your company, but on behalf of it).

I chose the later, as I need variety (farm kid, I have a very diverse skillset and interests, and little time / use for bosses, and NO use for a 9-5 schedule (I prefer 24x7, and you get that when managing operations around the globe.). Very few people actually know how to tangibly build stuff, but that is a huge + when you are negotiating contracts and controlling quality, setting up quality plans, shipping, delivery, yield, output, annual materials plans.

Look up those companies with the best Supply Chains, read the details, read biographies of leaders, and dig up their best practices.

I much prefer working with and for people who took the time to experience the different levels of the operation and have a broad girth of skills and knowledge. (Surround yourself with smart people, yet stay a grunt).

I would be looking at international schools that would get you supply chain variety of knowledge and technologies. To win for your company, you need to be 2-5 yrs ahead of the competition in your Supply Chain skills and implementation.
I'd be here in a heartbeat... Maastricht University MSc Global Supply Chain Management and Change (Netherlands) I really like this school and region for technology and business development. Copenhagen, Rotterdam and Vienna too, what could be wrong with that? (fantastic opportunities).

There is also the whole world of Global Supply Chain finance and trade that is very fascinating and in demand. This is going to really become (is) a big issue for WW companies.

You have a great opportunity in Army Reserves to experience and rub shoulders with the elite of the elite in skillsets, technology, and logistics. Use it to your advantage. I always consider each job / school / course and training and exposure for my next job.. Fortunatley my company was one of the best global supply chains and headhunters were always after us. Several colleagues went to Apple, Google, Amazon, and a LOT went to MS (but they got enough of that real fast). Many came back to our company, numerous times.

I really enjoyed the international assignments (with family). Many people will not take these assignments because their kids are in school. We took them all, and our kids never bothered going to school (until college at age 16). The world was their learning, and it served them well. (all graduated Magna before age 20). All love to travel and are well aware of the cultural sensitivities of being a minority / visitor to a unique culture and business practices (always aware!).

Enjoy the journey.
In my free time I do rural economic development and WW cooperative business training and enabling (not too popular in USA, but very useful in countries who need to improve quality of life and income and business skills for the workers and business owners)

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 01-16-2020 at 12:46 AM..
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Old 01-16-2020, 12:35 PM
144 posts, read 144,369 times
Reputation: 143
@StealthRabbit thank you for your thoughtful response, and for the links you have provided.

I guess that I am not yet sure whether I align more with being a people-manager or product-supply manager. I guess once I start getting some experience in the field, as well as do my military training, I'll know for certain.

Do you have any advice for getting started in domestic supply chain management? I am currently bound to NYC as my unit is stationed here for at least a few years. I would like to get started and I'm not too proud to do any kind of job, so long as it serves to productively and earnestly begin my career in Logistics/SCM.

There is a search function on google for those in the military in which you type in your MOS (military occupational specialty) and it shows you jobs in the area that align with the expertise you practice in your military job. When I did so, I mostly get linked up to managerial jobs in Logistics, Operations Management, and SCM. However, all of these jobs require 2-5 years of prior managerial experience in the related fields, as well as experience using specific software, which I currently do not boast. After I complete Officer Candidate School and Officer Leadership Course in Logistics, that will change and I can officially and legitimately market myself as an experienced manager in logistical operations.

So basically I am trying to figure out what jobs I can begin working/developing right now, before I'm qualified for managerial work. I see jobs for stuff like Logistics Coordinator, Logistics Clerk, Inventory Control Clerk, etc. Do you believe these are appropriate avenues to pursue, given my situation?
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Old 01-16-2020, 02:36 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
31,828 posts, read 52,398,438 times
Reputation: 40624
Take a relevant job that pays the highest, offers the most variety, and least disruptive to your studies / obligations. Night and weekend dispatch would be interesting. (And harrowing). You can learn a lot about the companies, so pick the one that will grow you the most.(on their dime and your time). It becomes pretty obvious which will make the best fit during interview, if not before.

As noted before.... I don't like working with day shift whiners, and staff is too large to transfer positions. Working nights and weekends will expedite your learning's and add more responsibility and growth. (You need to be far more capable to manage and make the right decisions when no bosses are around.)
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