Students' Drive to Succeed Fueled by American Axle Internship

September 2012

Farmer School Supply Chain Management students Brent Curtis '13 and Charlie Greene 13, wanted something more than a summer job. They were looking for a chance to reality test the skills they'd learned in class, build new skills, and gain experience in a real business setting. Their eleven week internship with Detroit-based American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM), provided all that, and more.

"If you have the drive and determination to succeed and build cross-functional skills in this type of environment, you're going to be given those opportunities," said Curtis. It's a place that can act as the catalyst for your career; a place where you can really make a difference."

Greene interned with the AAM Global Commodity Strategy team, and was most impressed by the opportunity to directly engage with the manufacturing side of the business. "The auto industry has always been very interesting to me," said Greene. "I like to see something physical created. I've been to seven different types of manufacturing plants for different things."

"Internships like this one at AAM provide our students with the opportunity to experience what it's like to work in an authentic business environment," said Farmer School Dean Roger L. Jenkins, the Mitchell P. Rales Chair in Business Leadership." Our business partners reap tremendous benefits as well; gaining insight and fresh perspectives from some of our most talented students, and forming relationships that may translate into future employees who can start their careers with a strong base of knowledge." This is a testament both to the high caliber of our students and the relationships and reputation the Farmer School has built." Jenkins concluded, "AAM truly understands how exceptional out students are - David C. Dauch, their President and CEO, is a 1986 graduate and a member of the School's Business Advisory Council."

In the case of AAM, one of the joint projects Curtis and Greene tackled allowed them to make a major impact. The project involved identifying and finding a solution to a pricing discrepancy with one of AAM's suppliers. "The negotiation process allowed us to resolve a couple of outstanding issues on both sides, and netted a $1.2 million recovery by AAM," said Greene. "I was excited to see this and to have the opportunity to follow our project from start to finish."

"I think the Farmer School really prepared me well both indirectly and directly," said Curtis. "The major classes I took last year that gave me knowledge of the terminology and jargon what's really important from an industry perspective. I felt like I could really hit the ground running."