Next Generation Workers: The Future of Supply Chain Careers

For the Gen Zers diving into supply chain careers: look for opportunities at all types of companies.

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There are at least two reasons to expect more representatives of Gen Z selecting supply chain as a career track. First, they spent their college years wearing masks and they firsthand know what a “supply chain bottleneck” means. Second, they have every reason to believe that they could make more money after graduation. According to the Association of Supply Chain Management (ASCM) 2023 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report, individuals who hold supply chain-related degrees of any level earn an average of $30,000 more than the national average salary.

Despite these encouraging numbers, recent graduates looking for their first job or seniors hunting an internship might fall into some caveats.

Mistake #1: Following Big Flashy Names

There is a lot of research and surveys surrounding Gen Z and their preferences for work, and if we select companies with big in-house supply chain operations, we will see the same names repeated over and over again. Trying to get into a company that has become a household name is a slam dunk for any recent graduate, however there is a catch.

There are significantly more opportunities to innovate, automate and achieve considerable cost savings at businesses that have historically been slower to adopt new technologies. In certain industries it is thus easier to become the go-to person for anything tech related, and this means high-profile projects for the recent graduates.

In other words: big company names may adorn your resume, but lesser-known ones may give you better opportunities.

Mistake #2: Avoiding Going to Manufacturing Plants and Warehouses

Early career is the time to spend time at plants and warehouses, following the supervisors around and catching every word they say. Yes, this will not have the vibe of a Manhattan-based office, but this will lay the foundation of the future successful career. Too many times young professionals fall into the trap of starting to analyze the data regarding a certain process, or worse, trying to improve it without having any actual perception of what the process looks like on the shop floor. To that end, some companies have plant experience as a mandatory part of their programs for graduates.

So, get your hands dirty to really understand how the business works.

Mistake #3: Disregard Coding/IT Skills

In a widely quoted statement made this year at the Word Government Summit in Dubai, Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang said that the rapid advancements made by AI will make learning to code not a priority for those looking to enter the tech sector. 

Understanding the basics of coding is a game-changer for anyone looking to enter the supply chain - an extremely data-heavy, complex-process world where legacy systems need to talk to modern ones and there is a constant need to translate business requirements into code. Large Language Models can do a lot of that work, but they will not be trusted for decision-making, so there has to be a human face vetting the results.

It means that knowing the basics of coding is becoming a must for the job in supply chain analytics. If you do not know it, you will not be able to get far in a complicated world of AI-driven models.

To wrap it up for the Gen Z diving into supply chain careers: look for opportunities at all types of companies. There is also real action in less flashy industries, where tech upgrades can make you a star early on. Get your hands dirty at plants and warehouses—it’s the real deal for understanding the nitty-gritty of this field. And don’t overlook coding skills; they’re your secret weapon in navigating the complex, AI-driven supply chain world. Keep these pointers in mind, and you’re not just landing a job; you're setting the stage for an impactful career in a rapidly evolving sector.