My name is Martijn Venhoeven, I am 27 years old and I completed my bachelor’s degree in business administration at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. I work for Mainfreight, a company that offers: “Complete End-To-End Supply Chain Logistics Solutions” (mainfreight, Global, N.d.). In plain English, this means we make sure the (end) customer receives their order in full at the agreed-upon time. Mainfreight originated in Auckland, New Zeeland, is spread across Europe with its noteworthy line-haul transport. The brand focuses on quality transportation by offering exemplary customer service and tracking capabilities. Mainfreight is built upon Three Pillars: “Culture, Family, and Philosophy. These core values have shaped our people and our company. We promote our people from within and encourage innovative, non-hierarchical and decisive outlooks” (mainfreight, N.d.). 

This statement reflects itself in the department at Tilburg as I can vouch that together we take ownership over all the tasks at hand and do not strictly follow a hierarchy. We do not distinguish between operational personnel or the manager; everyone is just as important and everyone takes ownership of the activities that have to be done. We, for example, have no job descriptions, find it important to openly discuss problems and openly solve them, and are focused on the long term as a one hundred year company. Eventually we are less interested in certificates or diplomas: education is optional, learning is compulsory. Summarized, we are more interested in what (personal) skills and attitude you bring to the table. The recruiters at Mainfreight check to see if you fit in the company’s culture. We are looking for agile employees that don’t get pushed around, and do not lose track of what they were doing after having helped 3 different customer questions (at the same time). 

Don’t worry though, Mainfreight does not just throw you in the deep and let you fend for yourself. They make sure you are ready for the challenges that come your way. First, you are shown the ropes through an introduction within the company. Moreover, they have an induction course where you get familiar with the culture and get to know the different business units Mainfreight operates in. Then stepwise, you will learn by doing. That is why a “can do attitude” is more important than a fancy degree. 

I started my journey at Mainfreight while doing my bachelor’s in business administration. Usually, the bachelor does not include an internship. However, I still had 12 EC open that I needed to fill. So I could have gone down the regular route where I did electives, but I chose to do an internship instead. I reached out to Mainfreight which are well known in the area where I grew up. After a conversation with the recruiter and manager, I started in Tilburg and already quickly answered customer questions and scheduled transport. We started out with three people in a small office in Oisterwijk and as we grew in personnel and assets, we eventually acquired our current building. After the internship, I was offered a 0-hour contract and was allowed to plan my own working hours. This allowed me to work while writing my thesis for school, which I ended up writing about the organizational commitment of freelancers which was my job for several years before I got to know Mainfreight. 

Currently, I’m in the three-years Development Program (traineeship) at Mainfreight. I’m in my current role for almost 1,5 years now, where I’m responsible for the daily operations. Which, in terms of the transport-branch in Tilburg, basically concerns freight forwarding, planning (domestic & international) and customer service. Due to Covid we have to deal with a lot of restrictions, but fortunately Mainfreight organize a lot of online training- and events to get the full experience of the program. For now, I plan to continue my traineeship in Belgium (Gent) at a different business unit to broader my knowledge. Hopefully, by then, there will be fewer restrictions allowing us to physically experience the different facets and team members within the other branches. 

I am glad that I decided to use the 12 EC meant for electives on the internship as it taught me the basics of practical logistics, which is entirely different from the theory. Obviously, the main topics are reflected in the work field. In reality, many unforeseen variables make it so that the “ideal” situation universities teach you about cannot easily be achieved. Some tools make daily tasks easier. Unfortunately, some tasks cannot be standardized or automated and must be done manually every day. So, don’t get too caught up in theory, and think about what can be applied in practicality.

Another important tip for students is that you will need patience and people skills to work with others. Being, for example, in the operations all day requires focus and constantly tending to all the needs at that moment. It will also ask for cooperation with the warehouse, drivers, and customers. Even if your message is based on a detailed analysis, no one will listen if you cannot portray your message correctly. 

If this article inspired you, then check out the job application webpage for perhaps the next step in your logistical career: We want to invest in young professionals with the right attitude. Did an application catch your eye? Feel free to contact us. We are always open to a cup of coffee and discussing the possibilities. 

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