UW-Stout: Inspiring graduate Ben Larson: ‘The polytechnic experience aided my learning more than anything.’

MENOMONIE, Wis. – Through two internships obtained during University of Wisconsin Stout’s Career Fair – one as a distribution supervisor with Menards and another as a supply chain intern with Andersen Corp. – Ben Larson added to his hands-on experience.

“My internships taught me a lot about the workplace and applications I learned about in the program. Having these opportunities taught me areas that I enjoyed in work, as well as areas that I did not enjoy. This narrowed down my job selection process,” he said.

Larson, of Menomonie, accepted a full-time position as a supply chain analyst with Andersen in Menomonie, before graduating on Dec. 17, when he earned his bachelor’s in supply chain management.

How has your Stout education and experience changed you?
Stout exposed me to courses that helped me decide to change my career path as a whole from business administration to supply chain.

The polytechnic experience aided my learning more than anything in my supply chain degree, a degree I was previously unfamiliar with.

My mandatory internships helped me harness soft skills I would not have likely learned in the classroom, all while supervising workers and learning analytic applications for production facilities.

What stands out about your Stout experience?
Supply chain’s Design 1 and Design 2 courses were very beneficial in teaching me about the many areas of a business, as well as how decisions made in one area can impact others.

These courses also taught me about myself, how I react to challenges, how to hold myself and teammates accountable and use time management. I have applied some of these personal lessons to my everyday life.

Gene Gutman created and taught the four most impactful courses I had at the university, in a hands-on style. He gave us real world networking opportunities to give progress reports and gain feedback. He expected and brought out only the best in each of his students, which prepared us for the many different challenges that we’ll face in a problem-solving and analytic field. These expectations and opportunities contributed to my professional personality immensely.

How did your involvement at Stout impact your experience?
I was an officer in the Stout Ambassadors program, which gives students opportunities to engage with alumni, industry partners, campus and community stakeholders.

I also served as an officer in two professional student organizations. APICS is the nation’s leading professional association for supply chain and operations management; and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals is the worldwide professional association dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of research and knowledge on supply chain management.

These three organizations gave me many networking opportunities, as well as connections to campus.

How did you overcome the challenges you faced in earning your degree?
Switching to an online education format during COVID was a difficult transition. But I am much more efficient and comfortable on the computer now in many different programs that I may not have been exposed to otherwise.

My capstone course and other rigorous courses helped me improve my time management and prioritization skills immensely.

What are you most proud of as you finish your degree?
I’m most proud of the ability to look back and see all the work I accomplished, the maturity I gained as a professional and the many friendships I made.

UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes. Learn more via the FOCUS2030 strategic plan.