From the Army to Amazon and Beyond

Chelsea LaPlanteChelsea LaPlante

Logistics Planner, PACCAR

Chelsea LaPlante knew she would eventually move from her logistics role with the U.S. Army to a civilian sector position. And she knew she’d need further education to make the transition.

“An undergraduate degree is not enough anymore,” Chelsea said. “I knew I was going to be getting out of the military, and I wanted to make myself more competitive and knowledgeable in the logistics field.”

So she enrolled in the UW Master of Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics program to earn an advanced degree. The decision paid off, as Chelsea landed a job with Amazon right out of school and then moved on to a rewarding position at PACCAR.

In this interview, the 2017 grad talks about how earning a master’s degree from the UW helped her launch her career in the civilian sector.


Congrats on the new job. Has what you learned in the master's program impacted your transition to this role?

The degree has helped me adapt tremendously to my role. Every class touched on what I currently do: process and improvement management, financial analysis, collaboration across the supply chain, and risk management. It has really set the foundation for me to be successful in my career, especially after a transition from the military. 

Do you feel that earning your master's degree at the UW factored into landing your job with Amazon and your subsequent career growth?

The program absolutely resulted in getting a better job than I ever thought possible. Many Amazon positions require or prefer master's degrees. Because of my experience in the SCTL program, I was able to qualify for very competitive positions and secure a new career after the military.  

Have you been able to apply your studies in your career?

The knowledge and skills I’ve developed have made it easier to identify shortcomings and problem-solve those issues to create optimal solutions. I’ve applied many of these skills to projects in the military or to suggest improvements to senior management.

What was the online experience like? Did it help you in completing the program?

The online format was a huge factor in my decision to apply and commit to the program. I knew that after a long day at work, the last thing I would want to do is sit in traffic driving to school.

The fact that the program was online made it easier to know that I would always be able to make class, even if I was traveling for work. The way the class was set up made it feel as if I was in a classroom anyway. I loved how interactive it was.

Were you able to connect with other students in your cohort?

Yes. I tried to attend as many optional program events as possible, because it gave me the opportunity to forge friendships and get to know people with similar goals and backgrounds. Every class has group projects, which also helped me to connect with my fellow students. And the Residency Week in the beginning of the program really set the stage for coordinating and working with cohort members.

What were the faculty like?

The faculty are a treasure trove of knowledge and experience, and you can see their passion, drive and expertise. They bring in real-life problems that they have dealt with and relate them to the coursework on a daily basis. 

Would you recommend the degree to others?

I highly recommend the SCTL program to transportation and logistics professionals. It’s a great way to ensure you gain a competitive edge in a growing field.