Internship Leads to Award, Job Opportunity for COB Graduate

Sammy Jolly LeMarr wanted to understand the ins and outs of the industry, the things common observers do not notice or recognize.

For one reason, her coursework up to that point had provided her a solid foundation in logistics and supply chain management and this was the logical next step. For another, LeMarr wanted to attain a deep understanding and comprehension of her field prior to entering the workforce.

Working day in and day out in a professional setting would provide her what she wanted. That’s why she chose to do an internship.

“My internship provided me that operational experience I needed to better understand how it all works,” she said.

LeMarr came to UCA a biology major, hoping to turn her love for animals into a career as a veterinarian. However, a couple semesters in, it wasn’t panning out as she’d hoped. LeMarr turned to a family friend, Scott Nadler, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Business’ Department of Marketing and Management, for advice.

He steered LeMarr to the department’s Logistics and Supply Chain Management program.

Navigating a major change that would take her across campus and from one side of the career spectrum to the other, must have been some predetermined aptitude test for her future. It is one she passed with flying colors.

LeMarr immediately took an interest in her courses and major.

“I loved it,” she said.

She began her internship with C.H. Robinson, a global logistics company with an office in Little Rock, in January 2017. It didn’t take long for her to find a lot of enjoyment there, either.

For her, it was the behind-the-scenes aspects of the industry that go unnoticed but are vital to its success that hooked her. It’s scheduling trucks to haul, building relationships with carriers and customers, and managing freight costs to impact a customer’s return.

“I didn’t know what went into moving a pallet from Point A to Point B – from raw material to an item for your consumption – whether that was food, clothing, car parts or something else,” she said. “It is crazy to think about all the little things that have to come together for something to finally make it to you.”

She initially began prospecting for the company, researching possible clients and presenting lead sheets to the sales team, but she quickly assumed operational responsibilities as well.

“Sammy is driven to the nth degree, losing is not in her vocabulary,” said Nadler.

Maybe it was her drive, her competitive nature or a budding interest in the industry — or a combination of the three — but whatever it was, LeMarr shined.

Before long, she was tracking and tracing loads, communicating with customers on pickups and deliveries, and, eventually, she was given the opportunity to research potential clients for her own book of business to manage.

LeMarr worked full-time in the summer growing her book and also filled in for two employees out on leave in the early part of the fall semester. She managed their books of business and cultivated new clients.

“She goes out and finds a business where no one else can, and she can close the deal,” said Nadler. “That’s the bottom line.”

It sounds cliche, but LeMarr was just determined to be the best intern she could.

“I told myself if I was going to have an internship, I wanted to be the best I could be and show that through my work ethic and the abilities I bring to the table,” she said. “And I wanted a job at C.H. Robinson more than anything.”

By the end of August, C.H. Robinson had offered LeMarr a full-time position as a sales executive that would be waiting on her in December after graduation. She was also named UCA’s Intern of the Year.

“I completely believe that hard work pays off and it did,” said LeMarr. “To be recognized for all I did, it really meant a lot to me.”

Ask LeMarr and she’ll say she accomplished this for a few reasons. It was the relationships she had with professors in the Logistics and Supply Chain Management program, including Nadler, Doug Voss, and Jim Dittrich.

“Every professor was incredibly helpful to me,” said LeMarr. “Having those relationships and being able to talk with them about my internship and have conversations where they understood where I was coming from, it was beneficial to me.”

UCA Career Services also played an important role, said LeMarr, since it was at one of its career fairs she met her general manager at C.H. Robinson.

But it was also the experience an internship provided her and the doors it opened in her career.

“It allowed me to gain a lot of experience and understanding before I left college,” said LeMarr. “The coursework and classes are important, but you don’t truly understand something until you get your hands in it and see how comes together.”

There are so many benefits an internship provides, LeMarr said she doesn’t see why anyone wouldn’t consider it.

“Why wouldn’t you do it?