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Gearhead grad finds connection to auto industry in Supply Chain Management

Kim Zhang stands in front of a stone wall in a suit.

Growing up with movies like The Fast and the Furious and playing racing video games, Kim Zhang ’16 became very interested in cars. He loved tuners — cars souped-up to be more powerful and faster than your standard vehicle — and dreamed of one day owning a Nissan GT-R.

His passion for cars is what led him to pursue Mechanical Engineering at York College of Pennsylvania. His passion for studying physics and calculus was not as strong as his passion for cars, so he switched his major to Business Administration.

Later, his proficiency in statistics and the guidance of one of his professors – Dr. Mohammed Raja –steered him to his eventual major, Supply Chain Operations Management, and a subsequent career in the field.

Car industry-ish

Kim’s tastes have matured since his Fast and Furious days. Now, almost three years after graduating from York College, he’s driving a sleek SUV: an Acura RDX. He can’t even picture himself in a Nissan GT-R anymore — he’s driven nothing, but 4x4s and SUVs since he got his driver’s license. “So, things have changed,” he says with a laugh.

His career is more practical, too, while still connecting with his original passion for cars. After graduation, his first job was with a car rental company. Today, he’s an inventory analyst for PetroChoice Lubrication Solutions.

It’s not exactly in the automotive industry, but it does share some of the same elements. Vehicles need lubrication to run, and Kim’s job is to make sure there’s the right amount of that on hand for customers, while keeping the bottom line low and everything running smoothly.

Preparation for the future

Kim credits his professors at York College for preparing him for his career. Even though Kim was in his third year when he switched majors into the program, his professors worked tirelessly with him to get him the internships and experiences he’d need to be successful. “I had a lot of support from them,” he says.

From Dr. Raja, who picked up on Kim’s aptitude in statistics and recommended the major, to the staff in the Career Development Center who helped him hone his interview and resume skills, Kim had a team of people supporting him every step of the way. None of that would have been possible without York’s small class sizes and professor accessibility. “I do better when there’s less people and I can actually work with professors more easily,” Kim says.

The knowledge he learned at York College, like deep diving into Microsoft Excel and enterprise resource planning, are things he directly applies to his job now. “Messing with Excel is like my life now,” he says.

A shifting dream

Like Kim’s original career aspirations, his dreams for the future continue to shift. At one point, he thought working for Toyota would be the best thing he could do. But today, he’s thinking bigger. Maybe he’ll own his own gym or start a supplement company.

Now that he’s in supply chain management, he sees it everywhere — in restaurants, air travel, grocery stores — his skills are applicable in every industry. Every time he thinks about what his dream job might be, he changes his mind to a new idea in a new industry.

Lucky for him, there are supply chains in all of them.

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