I've been interning over the summer at UPS for the past couple of months now and I would very much like to continue working at the company. Specifically, I have aspirations to become a manager in 10-20 years time. In the meantime, I was wondering what I needed to do to prepare myself for such a role.

Before I continue, I wanted to note that I am aware with the current policies on overly broad questions or company specific questions:

Custom Off-Topic Close Reasons Change

I am hoping that my question would be closer to this one that wasn't closed:

What can I do in my current non-manager role to prepare for a new career as a manager?

But instead as a software engineer for a software company, working in a logistics company.

I've done some digging on my own and came across a bullet list of what I think does a pretty good job on the 'track' to management and I was wondering what the community at the workplace would like to add or expand upon.


If I were to put myself on the list, I'd think I am in a pre-pre-pre supervisory position as an intern, who has a foot in the company, more like a toe, but not yet fully gone through by going full time in an entry-level position.

Please and thank you for taking the time to respond with your suggestions and ideas.

Edit: I recently graduated from University in May with a triple major in BA Political Science, BA Economics and BS in Management and Business Economics. I currently am employed at a very large american company as a summer intern with an end date of 2016-11-01. I'd like to continue working for UPS and have reached out to managers that I have networked and met during my time here. However with peak season (holiday deliveries) I know they are very busy and wouldn't have time to answer my questions. I wanted to reach out to the workplace community to get a better grasp as to what one needs to do to prepare oneself to become a manager.

  • 2
    Why not ask the current management there? They would be far better informed than the vast majority of the people here regarding particulars. Some places require college education or college degrees to get into management. Oct 12, 2016 at 16:54
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    "ntinue working at the company. Specifically, I have aspirations to become a manager in 10-20 years time" - Any reason for such a long term plan? Why not become one in 1-2 years?
    – Maarten
    Oct 12, 2016 at 16:55
  • Currently management is slammed with "peak" season, holiday preparation for volume. I've reached out, but I know they are very busy.
    – Bluebird
    Oct 12, 2016 at 16:56
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    @JoeStrazzere In a conversation with a supervisor, he mentioned that there was a management development program (that's how he started to work for UPS) but I haven't' been able to find any documentation internally or externally on any additional information. Now that you mention it, I should followup with him for more info. Thanks Joe!
    – Bluebird
    Oct 12, 2016 at 18:02
  • @JoeStrazzere That's funny. I did, local HR supervisor, supervisor's supervisor, and two HR managers, effectively four layers. I don't really expect a response given present peak hirings (~95,000 seasonal workers for UPS)
    – Bluebird
    Oct 12, 2016 at 18:23

2 Answers 2


General Info

It's great that you know what you want to do with your life, but I think it's a little premature to worry about these things as of yet.

For all we know UPS might not even be around in 10 years. You should focus on improving your employability in logistics overall, which typically means a college or university level degree, as well as job experience.

Over the years you may seek out some certifications related to your field, and maybe management/leadership training, however that will most likely be provided or paid for by the company seeking to promote you.

Right now all you need to do is make sure you finish school, work hard to make a good impression, and build a career. My single most important piece of advice is:

Don't stick around with a company if they fail to provide you with opportunities to grow.

Work for a couple of different employers and get a feel for the industry. Maybe eventually go back to a large company such as UPS in another position, just don't get stuck in the mentality that you will slowly work your way up the corporate ladder rung by rung. You can easily get stuck in the same position for years by doing so.

Update Based on Comments

You have a great educational foundation for achieving your goals. In many ways I think that you could end up in a leadership position much sooner than your 10-20 year goal. In fact, if I were you I'd aim for some sort of leadership position in around 5 years (but I'm not intimately acquainted with your industry, so maybe I'm wrong?)

What it comes down to at this point is navigating the company political landscape such that you are promoted, and are backed by management when you apply for higher level positions internally.

If I were you I'd start reading up on questions here on Workplace Stack Exchange, as well as general tips on how to get along with people. Maybe read the book "How to make friends and influence people", and other such materials on how to get along with people and generally be well liked.

You'll have to work hard, but most importantly work very hard at making the right friends, and playing politics.

My advice from above still applies, and in spades. If you sense that you're being stone walled in a company, or that there's no room for vertical growth, learn all you can from them, and bounce.

Edit by asker from discussion in comments:

"Pick some objectives for yourself. Identify some things which you'd like to learn or gain experience with within your organization. While you're meeting those objectives, you're growing, and learning. However, once you stagnate, it might be time to pursue a different position within the company, or to jump ship altogether. I think the key to advancement it making sure you keep moving, as it were"

  • I have a BA in Political Science, BA in Economics, and BS in Management, so in terms of degrees I think I am squared away. What I wanted to do was have a more active role in my day to day activities and actively prepare myself, making an impression, and given more responsibilities based on my work performance.
    – Bluebird
    Oct 12, 2016 at 16:57
  • @bobthebuilder - yes, education wise you're golden. Intimidating even. I say that because a lot of people might hesitate to hire a newbie who's better educated than the manager doing the hiring. At that point it all comes down to office politics, and gaining (positive) visibility. Mention your education in your post, and I'll update my answer.
    – AndreiROM
    Oct 12, 2016 at 16:59
  • Despite majoring in politics, I am well aware of the unoffical channels and interpersonal relationships needed to become successful. Ultimately, I know for a fact that theory often never relates to reality.
    – Bluebird
    Oct 12, 2016 at 17:05
  • @bobthebuilder - it also comes with experience. I remember my first job, and cringe at some of the things I said and did. I have a much better grasp of office politics now, yet I realize I'm still not very "smooth". I'll get better with time, and will put in more effort in a company where I know that I have room for vertical growth. As with anything, you just need life / workplace experience. You'll deal with issues and opportunities as they arise, and learn from those experiences.
    – AndreiROM
    Oct 12, 2016 at 17:07
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    @bobthebuilder - 2/2 Pick some objectives for yourself. Identify some things which you'd like to learn or gain experience with within your organization. While you're meeting those objectives, you're growing, and learning. However, once you stagnate, it might be time to pursue a different position within the company, or to jump ship altogether. I think the key to advancement it making sure you keep moving, as it were.
    – AndreiROM
    Oct 12, 2016 at 17:56

The people who I have seen move up to management from a lower rung tend to have some things in common. They take initiative. They volunteer for new opportunities particularly those that will have senior management attention, they learn to sell ideas for change and then successfully shepherd them through. It can also help to move around through different parts of the business and be familiar with more than one tiny technical specialty. Also make sure to support the business needs and make sure that your own boss is happy with you and make sure you get credit for the things you do. (Snakes take credit for things other people do, but you don't have to be a political snake to succeed.)

Management is about 80-90% politics. Workplace politics are not so different than the politics it takes to get a bill through Congress. It is very much about developing allies and trading favors. When looking to hire people to move up to management, they want to know that you understand this and can handle the political end. Otherwise, you may get to first line supervision but not beyond it.

As someone with a political science degree, you are better equipped than most to handle this side of things. My Political science degree was extremely valuable to me in learning to navigate office politics and to sell my vision to higher ups. Go back and re-read Machiavelli as you are going to have to deal with the "end justifies the means" snakes successfully to get ahead. Knowing what their moves are puts you way ahead of the game.

I would change your timeline for this as well. 5 years to the first management position is a good thing, 10 is not bad, 20 generally means you have gotten too old to be considered. If you want to get past the first two levels of management, an MBA is going to come in handy.

  • Read Machiavelli as well, although I would have to disagree of the more "fatal solution" he suggests. But you mention a MBA. I know that UPS has a tuition reimbursement program, but it certainly won't cover the costs and time away from work needed for an MBA. I am guessing this is something I would have to pursue on my own time?
    – Bluebird
    Oct 12, 2016 at 19:43
  • How does one "think" like a manager, if one is not a manager? isn't that a catch-22?
    – Bluebird
    Oct 12, 2016 at 20:28
  • Absolutely not a CAtch 22. All you need is empathy to put yourself in his position.
    – HLGEM
    Oct 12, 2016 at 20:50
  • I wasn't suggesting you follow Machiavelli, just that you remind yourself of what lengths some people will go to so that you can be prepared to handle their BS.
    – HLGEM
    Oct 12, 2016 at 20:51
  • Oops, misread on my part. Sorry. I understand, but disagree with those methods. In my opinion, life is too short to use such methods to achieve one's goals.
    – Bluebird
    Oct 12, 2016 at 21:06

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