Automotive Aftermarket Major Turns Connections into a Career

Samantha (center) during her internship with GM.

Samantha (center) during her internship with GM.

What is your major?

Automotive Aftermarket.

What student organizations are you involved with on campus?

I was a member of the women’s varsity soccer team for all four of my years at Northwood University. I was the goalie and I am glad that that was an experience I was able to enjoy.

Tell us a little bit about the internship you participated in.

For the past two summers I interned at General Motors Customer Care & Aftersales in Grand Blanc. The first summer I was on the digital marketing team. My summer was spent researching tires and GM’s position in tire sales. I looked at usability of competitors website against the GM website, as well as the prices. The second summer I worked on the Accessories Team. My project was about cleaning out a warehouse. There were millions of dollars clustered in a warehouse and it was my responsibility to figure out what needed to be promoted and sold and what needed to be scraped. I also started to develop a website for other GM countries that could sell the parts that we wanted to scrape. It was in the early stages when I left, but hopefully it has become beneficial. Both teams spent time introducing me to important people and exposing me to different parts of the business. They didn’t treat me like an intern, they treated me like an equal.

How did you get involved with this opportunity?

One of my dad’s friends works for GM and told me about the internship program. He told me who to contact and I had an interview and they wanted to bring me on board.

What were some of the most important things you learned during this experience?

The most important part is to network and meet new people. My team took me to countless meetings with bigwigs who could remember me down the road. Also, go to as many meetings and opportunities that present themselves. I sat in on as many meetings as I could and I learned information about a multitude of different aspects of the business. My advice is just to learn as much as you can because you never know what is going to come in handy down the road.

How will you apply this experience to your future education and career?

At the end of my internship the Accessories Team offered me a position to join them full time in June of 2017 and I accepted. Since this is a team I have already worked on, I understand a lot of the dynamics behind the way things work and how teams interact with other teams. This deeper understanding will allow me to be more efficient at my job from the beginning instead of taking months to figure out the basics. Also, this experience will help me down the road if I join other companies or shift around inside the company because I will have knowledge of how this industry works.

Why do you think it is important for students to have these types of experiences while they are in school?

Everyone always talks about real world experience and getting out into the real world. It sounds like a way to scare you into an internship, but they have a point. You never really know what to expect until you get out there and see what your field entails. You are never really ready for the work world, but having an internship is a chance to peak into what it’s really like and dip your toes into the water instead of getting thrown into the deep end. I think it will make the transition into full time work smoother than if I didn’t have an internship.

What was the highlight of the experience for you?

I think the highlight of my first summer was going to the facility where the Copo Camaro is built. Myself and another intern spent a Friday morning touring the facility where Copo Camaros were built and we got to see someone pick their vehicle up and drive it for the first time. My second summer, the Chevrolet Grand Prix on Belle Isle is one of GM’s crown jewels and they put together a tent for all of the interns. We spent the day watching the races, walking around to see all of the pit crews and it was an awesome day. It exposed me to the racing side of GM that I wasn’t particularly familiar with.

 Anything else we should know about this experience?

Through my internships I was exposed to multiple opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I met people that could potentially help me down the road if I need assistance and I look forward to seeing what General Motors has in store for my future.