Like many students in the Mike Ilitch School of Business, Kianna Mateen laid the groundwork for her career while she was still taking classes. And when she walked across the stage at commencement, she already knew what was next: Through a successful internship, Mateen was offered a position working for Ford Motor Co. as a buyer.
Mateen earned a bachelor’s in global supply chain management and marketing with honors in 2020. She then went on to earn an M.B.A. with a dual concentration in international business and digital business analytics in 2022. She chose to pursue her education at Wayne State University because it allowed for a glimpse into city life and offered a diverse community with a national reputation in business and deep connections to Detroit.
“Networking helped me make so many connections — on and off campus,” Mateen said. “My internship gave me the opportunity to learn what a career in purchasing would look like, and it also opened the door for me to launch my career journey.”
Through the Ilitch School’s Corporate Mentor Program, powered by Ally, Mateen connected with a professional working in purchasing at Ford. He encouraged her to apply for the company’s summer internship, which she began in May 2021. Three months later, at the end of the internship, she was offered a job following her upcoming graduation through Ford’s College Graduate program. She graduated in May 2022 and started her role in June 2022.
As a buyer at one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world, Mateen coordinates supplier relations, resolving logistics issues and coordinating with suppliers to ensure Ford’s exhaust team has the necessary parts to keep operations moving smoothly and efficiently. She also helps to source suppliers and parts, negotiating deals and working with engineers to think about everything from future model years to emissions regulations and industry trends. Mateen’s role also comes with travel opportunities, in which she visits different plants as part of the production part approval process.
“I’m so grateful for my role because my career has already proven to be a great learning opportunity,” she said. “I’m taking in as much as I possibly can, and this position allows me to see how things work in real time and to always be thinking ahead.”
She said that Ford has also provided a positive culture at work, where she enjoys working with her colleagues and has access to a variety of wellness resources.
Especially in the current market, where the pandemic has caused global supply chain disruptions and the automotive industry is evolving, Mateen observed that work can be “hectic,” but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
That environment isn’t entirely new for Mateen, who was highly engaged on campus in professional and social organizations. She attributes some of her success to campus involvement. In addition to participating in the Corporate Mentor Program, she was involved with the Multicultural Professional Readiness Program. She served as the president and co-founder of the Mike Ilitch Marketing Association and was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma scholastic honor society. Mateen was also active with the Fashion Design Merchandising Organization, where she helped coordinate the group’s first sustainable fashion show. Among other roles, she served as an ambassador for the Graduate School and a marketing assistant in Marketing and Communications. Additionally, prior to her internship with Ford, she completed internships with DTE, General Motors Co. and Green Living Science.
“I got used to being busy and managing my time, and to learning how to work with all different kinds of people,” she said of her experience on campus. “That’s helped tremendously.”
Mateen encourages current and future students to take advantage of every opportunity to get involved on campus.
“I’m more of a reserved person, but being so involved on campus helped me to open up,” she said. “I was initially hesitant to put myself out there, but the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. If I can do it, you can, too — just be open to new experiences and don’t hesitate go to that event!”