By Mitchell DeLong
My name is Mitch DeLong, and I am excited to share information about my summer 2020 internship with Plexus Corporation. I am a fourth-year Michigan Tech student studying management with a concentration in supply chain and operations management in the College of Business.
Despite the many challenges COVID-19 has presented, I was fortunate to find an opportunity to learn and grow with Plexus at their Neenah, Wisconsin, operations. While completing work with a mask on and undergoing regular temperature checks has not previously been routine during an internship, I am thankful for the safety precautions Plexus established.
Due to the pandemic, all in-person gatherings for interns were canceled. However, Plexus took steps to ensure we could still connect and have a great experience. They offered safe and engaging activities from virtual game nights to book clubs. Overall, my internship relied heavily upon the use of computers to do my work and connect with peers. Training from both Plexus and Michigan Tech prepared me for these technology-centered interactions.
I held the title of materials intern. The title may sound simple, but the work I was exposed to was beautifully complex. In the center where I was based, low-volume, high-complexity circuit boards are manufactured for use in advanced electronic equipment. The circuit boards Plexus makes are found in equipment ranging from advanced medical machinery to airplane controls. Some of the circuit board assemblies I worked with contain more than a thousand individual parts!
Coordinating the movement of so many parts was challenging and it was also rewarding knowing that the assignments I completed helped provide end-users with a risk-free experience.
My tasks entailed procuring parts within the aerospace and defense market sector. I made connections with supply chain professionals and practiced techniques I learned in my courses at Michigan Tech.
Interning during a pandemic also provided the unique opportunity to learn firsthand about extreme fluctuations in supply chains. Some parts experienced a “Bull-whip” effect and were directly impacted by manufacturing changes related to the public health crisis. As a purchaser of those parts, it was my job to minimize the negative impacts of the supply chain so that production managers and customers could get the products they need on-time and at a fair cost.
Beyond that, I worked with mentors to develop a long-term agreement project to stabilize and guarantee the supply and demand for critical components for circuit board assemblies.
While my internship only lasted 11 weeks, I am grateful that Plexus provided me with a project that will make a difference for years to come.