Written by Dana Krems
Sydney Loomans was poised to graduate early, but when she was offered a semester-long internship at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 facility in Sparks, Nevada, she quickly accepted it.
Before leaving for Tesla in August, she had completed one internship at Grande Cheese in Fond du Lac and was finishing a second at the Target Distribution Center in Oconomowoc. However, the supply chain management and finance major expressed anxiety as well as excitement about moving across the country for five months.
“I’ve never spent this much time outside of Wisconsin, and the prospect of working at a huge tech leader is a little intimidating,” she said.
Loomans had graduated early from Fond du Lac High School and completed her general education credits at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Fond du Lac campus. She transferred to UW-Whitewater because of its value, the reputation of its business school and the appeal of a small campus community.
UW-Whitewater exceeded her expectations.
“My experience has been special,” she said. “I loved the class sizes, and if I had gone to a larger university, I would not have had the same performance opportunities in the marching band.”
She added, “I appreciated that professors ask students for feedback. For instance, Professor (Anna) Land asked for my input on restructuring a course. That meant a lot to me as a student.”
Land, an assistant professor of information technology and supply chain management, is also one of the faculty mentors for the UW-Whitewater APICS, the Association for Supply Chain Management.
“I was impressed by Sydney’s engagement, motivation and maturity both in the classroom and in APICS,” Land said. “Her willingness to get outside of her comfort zone was remarkable, as well.”
Land was also pleased that Loomans has experienced multiple internships.
“With the high demand for supply chain professionals in the workforce, our students often get an internship that is followed by a full-time offer of employment after graduation,” Land explained. “I would encourage students to experience more than one type of role in a variety of organizations and to consider different geographic locations. These diverse experiences can help students find the right cultural fit.”
Involvement in APICS provided Loomans with many opportunities to gain experience and confidence. Members benefit from coaching, workshops, guest speakers and networking opportunities.
“I was timid when I first joined APICS,” Loomans admitted. “With some encouragement, I ran for an at-large board position. I later ran for the chapter president position.”
In the spring of 2019, her leadership, support and service were recognized when she was named Student of the Year by the APICS Milwaukee chapter.
Rick Pues, lecturer of information technology and supply chain management and faculty mentor for the UW-Whitewater APICS chapter, described some of Sydney’s contributions.
“In her role as UW-Whitewater APICS president, Sydney worked with other board members to bring in guest speakers, arrange company tours, and manage the student chapter recognition program,” he said. “In addition, one challenge we encounter is a loss of knowledge as students graduate. Sydney took the lead to create more structure for the APICS group by documenting processes and defining roles and responsibilities to preserve them for future members.”
Pues described Sydney and other scholar attendees networking at a large conference in Las Vegas.
“I watched this group of students speak with representatives from companies like Boeing, and they were all very poised,” he said. “It is rewarding to see students develop into confident professionals.”
About two months into her internship on the purchasing team, Loomans had no regrets about spending a semester at Tesla.
“My experience has been amazing,” she shared. “It's an exciting environment for growth. Some of us have even helped deliver Teslas to their owners. One of the best parts, though, has been meeting interns from across the world and learning about their cultures and viewpoints. This has opened me up to new ideas and ways of living.”