Careers advice and planning

Careers for business students at Cummins: five roles to consider

21 Jun 2023, 15:40

An engineering company like Cummins does not just hire engineers. There are a number of career opportunities for business students too. Hear from current placement students about five business job roles you could apply for.

Business professionals engaged in a collaborative meeting in a modern office setting.

‘When people think of Cummins, they often think it’s a company that makes machines so it must be made up of engineers. But we know a business does not function like that,’ says Aditi Reddy, a placement student at Cummins. And we couldn’t put it better ourselves. A successful, global company needs more than just the people who design amazing products. It needs people to finance them, promote them, sell them, distribute them… The list goes on.

So, if you’re a business student looking for work experience, here are five roles you might not have considered before at Cummins:

Sales operations representative

Aditi Reddy studies electronics and communications engineering at the University of Sheffield. Here is her take on her sales operations placement year.

How would you describe your job role?

When you think of sales, you think of the people who go from customer to customer and sell their products, but at Cummins we also need people to handle the behind-the-scenes process. Sales operations puts you in that role. I’ve been involved in tasks including inventory management, financial forecasting and pricing analysis – figuring out the profitability of certain sales. I have also been introducing a new customer relationship management (CRM) software called Salesforce.

Would you recommend this placement year to other students?

I’d recommend sales operations if, like me, you want to work in a role that acts as a bridge between the technical and business sides of an organisation. My role isn’t the stereotype that people often imagine when they think of sales. It’s a great role if you’re a people person but you don’t need to be an extrovert. You can get involved in people management, training and setting targets. I didn’t realise I would be able to experience management without multiple promotions!

What skills and knowledge have you gained?

  • An understanding of how a big multinational business such as Cummins works
  • People and time management – it’s important to stay on track and meet deadlines, or else you can have a chain effect and ultimately impact the end product.

What degree do you need to be studying for this role?

You can apply for the sales operations placement year with any degree subject.

Indirect purchasing

Alex McNeill studies business management at Northumbria University. Here is his take on his indirect purchasing placement year.

How would you describe your job role?

The indirect purchasing department covers everything the company buys that doesn’t directly go into the products we make, from cleaning and security, to transportation and packaging, to machinery and marketing. I support the different sourcing managers with their projects and I’ve also had my own projects. For example, I’ve been looking at increasing diverse spend within the UK, mainly looking at ethnic-minority-owned businesses.

Would you recommend this placement year to other students?

I'd recommend my role to any student who is wanting a career in business as the skills you gain are transferable to a lot of different fields. The environment at Cummins is one of the best I've worked in. You get an insight into a corporate company but it still offers a friendly atmosphere and everyone is supportive.

What skills and knowledge have you gained?

  • Specific purchasing skills such as contract building and supply chain management
  • Microsoft Office eg Excel, Word and PowerPoint
  • Communicating with internal and external personnel
  • Problem solving
  • Having multiple projects on the go at once
  • General confidence

What degree do you need to be studying for this role?

The indirect purchasing placement year is open to students of business- and finance-related degrees.


Anya Lovett studies geography and natural hazards at Coventry University. Here is her take on her environmental placement year.

How would you describe your job role?

My role involves monitoring, analysing and improving areas of the business that could be harmful to the environment. I focus on water, energy and waste linked to the production process, particularly in relation to the importance of adhering to legislation and working towards environmental goals.

I have done a mixture of desk-based and outside site work, analysing data to find anomalies or trends and, based on the analysis, beginning various projects, such as uncovering the cause of a water or energy usage increase. I’ve recently been involved in the set-up of a pollution prevention system, which ensures no water contaminated from a spill can leave the site. Work on this involved designing a sign, delivering training and mapping potential button locations for use in the event of a spill.

Would you recommend this placement year to other students?

This role is a unique and less obvious option for those interested in environmental careers. I’m really happy that I applied for it. If you have an interest in environmental processes and sustainability, this position provides a valuable insight into the importance of environmental management within a business. I’ve found it to be enjoyable, interesting and insightful – and I now feel much more prepared for my third year of university and for a future career.

What skills and knowledge have you gained?

  • An understanding of environmental regulation at a business level (my degree equipped me with a basic knowledge of environmental processes and sustainable development, but my placement has helped me build on and apply this knowledge)
  • Communication skills
  • Time management
  • Data analysis and MS Excel skills – two aspects of coursework at university that I lacked confidence in.

What degree do you need to be studying for this role?

You typically need an environmental-related degree to apply for the environmental placement year.

Customer accounts analyst

Georgi Georgiev studies business management at Lancaster University. Here is his take on his customer accounts analyst placement year.

How would you describe your role?

I’m a member of the Order Management and Customer Service team so, unsurprisingly, my role is very customer focused. Some of my tasks include creating and updating the information we have about our customers; updating mail groups to keep our customers informed on their orders; producing weekly reports and creating surveys. I’ve been given my own project to improve communication with our customers and I’ve also been involved in collaborative work with those on the graduate scheme and the Credit team.

Would you recommend this placement year to other students?

I would recommend this role to students who have an eye for detail and would like to be involved in a range of activities. I also think it’s an ideal fit for somebody who enjoys helping other people. And, last but not least, the chance to work in such an inclusive and supportive team as mine is not to be missed.

What skills and knowledge have you gained?

  • IT skills
  • Professional communication
  • Balancing and prioritising different activities
  • Working under pressure
  • Working from home, thanks to guidance from Cummins.

What degree do you need to be studying for this role?

The customer accounts analyst placement year is open to those studying business or a related area.

Trade compliance

Kornelija Kucinskyte studies air transport and logistics management at the University of Huddersfield. Here is her take on her trade compliance placement year.

How would you describe your job role

A company that imports or exports goods might have the most advanced logistics operations but if goods are held at customs for too long, it could result in huge penalties and fines. Customs and international trade compliance roles are therefore vital. They ensure that goods are classified and declared in accordance with the laws and regulations, so that the appropriate duties and taxes are paid. When done correctly, it results in massive savings for the company.

My role involves lots of communication with suppliers and customs brokers to minimise the risk of error or disruption to the flow of goods. I do financial reporting and maintain accurate records, logs and files containing import and export documents. I also complete audits of the trade compliance functions with other team members.

Would you recommend this placement year to other students?

This role allows me to feel like a significant part of the company. I can have a hands-on global impact. It has also been a great opportunity to learn new things from my colleagues, who are experts in their fields, participate in various projects and grow as a person.

My degree is not closely related to trade compliance but that doesn’t matter. I would recommend this role to anyone who is curious and not afraid of challenges. It requires a great eye for detail when completing tasks and examining documents. It can sometimes feel like playing detective! The role brings plenty of opportunities to get trade compliance knowledge and develop soft skills. It’s given me a great head start in my career.

What skills and knowledge have you gained?

  • Knowledge of the UK’s trade operations process and import and export procedures
  • Teamwork
  • Time management and planning
  • Communication
  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Proactive and reactive thinking.

What degree do you need to be studying for this role?

The trade compliance placement year is open to those studying business, statistics logistics or a degree in a related area.

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