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Careers In Motion: The Student Experience


Alex Bishop is a University of Toronto student and varsity hockey player, entering his final year of a Bachelor of Commerce degree and specializing in Finance and Economics. Having spent time in Saint John, NB in his teenage years as a goalie for the QMJHL Saint John Seadogs, he was pleased to return to the East Coast for a summer placement with the J.D. Irving Limited, specifically within the prestigious Careers In Motion program operating out of the company's Transportation and Logistics Division. 

Now coming to the end of his term as a Human Resources Administrator, Alex sat down with 4 other Careers In Motion students to learn about their backgrounds, experiences across J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) and its transportation businesses, and their future career aspirations. Keep scrolling for more!

Don’t Trust the Process with Rachel Farwell

Innovation and efficiency are key catalysts driving the world forward. Rachel Farwell knows this better than anyone. As a Business Improvement Analyst Student working with J.D. Irving, Limited’s Transportation and Logistics Division, she is responsible for analyzing current processes and looking for ways to eliminate inefficiencies. Thus far, she has created a digital customer relationship management app for Universal Truck and Trailer, a member-business with JDI, and studied the company’s onboarding process for new employees, providing insights for potential improvements. Outside of her work this summer at JDI, Rachel is a varsity-level basketball player representing Ryerson University in Toronto, where she is headed into her fourth year of study in Industrial Engineering. 

Rachel, however, hasn’t always had her eye on Continuous Improvement as a potential career path. 

“I’ve always had a very analytical, detail-oriented mind and I’ve known that forever,” she says, “But when it comes to learning a process and diving into actually improving it, I took a course on [Process Improvement] just last year and was able to discover that I was pretty passionate about it.” 

Originally enrolling in Ryerson with the hopes of majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Rachel quickly realized she was less interested in the hands-on manipulation associated with Mechanical Engineering and more intrigued by the opportunities to apply knowledge and connect to business through an Industrial Engineering degree. The decision to change majors halfway through her first year came on the heels of a prior to freshman-year trip to Taiwan, which inspired her to see process improvement in a whole new light. 

The summer before she started at Ryerson, Rachel and her university basketball team were invited to an international tournament, where she was exposed to new cultures, languages and a huge array of people and teams from around the world. 

“To experience different cultures through basketball was totally refreshing,” Rachel explains. “Like, players in Asia shoot with two hands. [Coming from a Western viewpoint,] you would just never think [of doing that] and they’re so consistent. You think you know exactly how to do things and then you go to Asia and see players there doing it differently and just as well.” 

The influence of this international experience can be seen in Rachel’s daily work, allowing her to navigate the Business Improvement Analyst role with an open mind, and the ability to consider multiple perspectives. She’s been able to prioritize thinking outside of the box and realize that there is no single way to do things. As a result, Rachel sees her experience with JDI as a growth opportunity, and an important step towards a career in business improvement. 

“I like that JDI is a very broad community, there’s lots of room to grow and move horizontally even if you’re looking for something new. I like that you’re not stuck in a box the rest of your life. If you start working here, there are a lot of opportunities and diversity.”

After she graduates in 2023, Rachel intends on pursuing either her Professional Engineer designation (P.Eng) or MBA… unless her professional basketball career says otherwise. With a now-heavy focus on process improvement, she has been using this summer to expand her PI toolbox, taking courses in 5S, and achieving her Lean Six Sigma White Belt. When asked if there were any other areas she would like to experience, Rachel says, “right now, I’m really happy with business improvement. I can see how it can be applied in so many different ways. Whether I stay in transportation… who knows? But I like where I am.”

 Rachel Farwell
Rachel Farwell, photographed by Alex Bishop 


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Chris Freund

Chris Freund is no stranger to the transportation industry. Growing up under a flight path in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he was constantly watching the planes lift and soar overhead. This was the first step in what would be a lifetime exposure to planes, trains, and automobiles. Now, as an Operations Analytics Student working with RST Sunbury this summer, Chris is responsible for analyzing business performance metrics and looking for opportunities to streamline processes and optimize spending. He spends a significant amount of time working on the OMNI Tracks project implementation, a revolutionary new way for drivers to log their data via a satellite-linked tablet. The tablet uses a GPS-enabled device called an AMGC to track the vehicles more efficiently, promoting safety and compliance, while also providing greater shipment visibility. 

Unlike the majority of people who discover their passions in secondary or post-secondary schooling and shape their careers thereafter, Chris knew exactly what he wanted to do and how he wanted to get there in his childhood. 

“I remember when I was little, I lived a 15 or 20-minute bike ride from the airport,” he explains. “It was one of those airports that had a park [adjacent to] the runway, so the planes were just a few hundred feet off the ground. I’d go there every other weekend and just watch them land at 200 feet.” 

In addition to a fascination with aviation, Chris was heavily influenced by the railroad tracks just minutes from his childhood home as well, with Winnipeg being a central rail transportation hub. His interest in freight movement and distribution remained through many moves and family relocations - living in four U.S. states and two Canadian provinces prior to graduating. Having set his sights on working in the transportation industry after high-school, Chris then decided to find a career that married both the transportation sector and his interest in mathematics. 

“I took a statistics course [in university], and it was really interesting in how we were able to apply it to all types of fields, including the transportation sector - much like the position that I’m currently in,” Chris says. “I figured transportation involves a lot of data analytics and all sorts of other processes that need to be analyzed.” 

With his family’s relocation to Halifax, Nova Scotia in the summer of 2018, Chris became familiar with the opportunities J.D. Irving, Limited provides within the transportation sector. When he discovered JDI’s Careers in Motion, a specialized student employment program specific to the company’s Transportation and Logistics Division, Chris didn’t think twice about the need to relocate to Saint John for the summer. 

With technology transforming the transportation industry, Chris reflects, “What I really like so far [about working in this sector] is being able to contribute to this digital transformation. It’s a really exciting change that just makes life easier. For me, it’s just good to contribute and see what goes on behind the scenes of the company. And with this new digital software, it’s really fascinating.”

Going forward, Chris looks forward to expanding his transportation knowledge and furthering his commitment to the industry. 

“I really do enjoy what I’m doing,” he mentions. “But since I grew up near trains… it was nice to learn about all the railways that exist around New Brunswick and Maine. If I could learn more about the rail and their operations and how they [approach] similar work to what I’m doing [with RST Sunbury], that would be really awesome.” 

Until then, you can find Chris hiking or scuba diving (depending on the weather), or logging hours on his at-home flight simulator. However, we know one thing for certain; Chris Freund’s thoughts never stray too far from planes, trains, or automobiles.

 Chris Freund
 Chris Freund, photographed by Alex Bishop


Entrepreneurship in the Driver’s Seat with Logan Forret

Without question, 2020 was a year filled with surprises and uncertainty. For Logan Forret, this statement is doubly true. In the midst of pandemic-related unpredictability, Logan and his friends started an apparel company called Common Clothing. Now, working as a Sales Analyst Student at NBM Railways, he is leaning on his educational background, entrepreneurial experience, and his older sister’s advice to navigate the ever-evolving environment of JDI’s Transportation and Logistics Division and its member-businesses. Logan’s older sister, Kennedy, started as a full-time Audit Associate in JDI’s Internal Audit department following several work terms with JDI throughout her years at university.

Now heading into his final year at UNB Fredericton with a major in Marketing and concentration in Entrepreneurship, Logan is looking for a way to blend his fascination for sales and marketing with his passion for entrepreneurship. 

“I kind of gained that interest in marketing first” he says. “I was going to go into a concentration in International Business, and then I started Common Clothing and developed a love for entrepreneurship and that entrepreneurial drive.” 

The journey with Common Clothing has been unexpected, with Logan and his friends originally starting the line with the goal of simply providing their friends something unique to wear. However, the initial launch of their hoodie saw over 200 units sold, encouraging them to come out with t-shirts, long sleeves, crew necks, masks, and more hoodies.

In addition to running his apparel company, Logan’s summer will be spent assessing current and future customers of NBM Railways, weighing the costs and benefits of certain growth strategies, and organizing and purchasing materials for upcoming Rail Services projects. 

With respect to his work at JDI, it isn’t lost on Logan that he stumbled upon a great opportunity with the Careers in Motion program. 

“[This summer] will give me the experience I’ll need in the workforce, and I can apply what I’ve learned going forward - the sales perspective from [my supervisor,] Brian Gilliland and from others - into the actual workforce. JDI’s values and the leadership training – all of this is going to bring me further in my career.”

After he graduates in May 2022, Logan plans on entering the workforce, preferably with J.D. Irving, Limited. He sees himself expanding his scope and experience outside the realm of sales at some. 

“I definitely would like to experience something that is a combination of both sales and marketing, but all in all, I think anything in JDI,” Logan says. “JDI has a number of opportunities, so I think there would be plenty of positions I could apply for after graduation.” 

This potential for possible career growth is something he sees daily… whether it be new things he learns or encouragement from his manager. When discussing his newfound appreciation for the rail industry, Logan mentions: 

“Brian Gilliland told me when I met him for the first time that during his own interview, he said ‘the only thing I know about trains is that Thomas is a tank engine’. And that was honestly me too because I’d never looked twice at a train. But now learning the concepts and learning the terms, I look at trains in a whole new light.” 

Outside of JDI, Logan spends his time following Atlantic-Canadian brands like East Coast Lifestyle and Country Liberty and coming up with new ideas for Common Clothing. He also says to keep an eye out for future announcements, because his work with JDI is just getting started!

 Logan Forret
 Logan Forret, photographed by Alex Bishop


Shifting Gears with Tara Mackinnon

Like many employees of J.D. Irving, Limited, Tara Mackinnon is part of a “JDI Generations” family. She was introduced to JDI through her father, Corie, who works for Universal Truck and Trailer, a member-business of JDI’s Transportation and Logistics Division. He’s a Truck Stop Technician at UTT’s Dieppe location and brought the Careers in Motion summer program to Tara’s attention. 

Having completed her second year at Mount Allison University, Tara is pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce with a focus in Marketing and minor in International Politics. She applied for the CIM program hoping to gain some experience in a business setting to compliment her degree. Tara was able to secure a position as a Warehouse Operations and Logistics student at the Universal Truck and Trailer Dieppe location for the summer, working out of the same location as her father.

Tara has thoroughly enjoyed her experience thus far; and the work she has done has opened her eyes to what a business environment has to offer. On a daily basis, she draws on her previous education and on-the-job learning to assist with the ongoing addition to the company’s Parts Department. More specifically, her introduction to the 5S workplace organization system has allowed her to organize and plan work toward this new addition effectively and efficiently, despite having little knowledge of the process beforehand. 

“I had heard about it a little bit but had no idea what 5S was” she says. “But taking those classes, talking about 5S and researching it on my own has been really helpful. I use it every day just trying to figure out how to make everything better and more efficient.” 

Outside of her 5S work, Tara is able to cooperate and converse with people throughout the office daily, from people on the shipping and receiving floor to managers working in the offices. This has been crucial to her positive experience. 

“My first couple weeks I spent all downstairs with the teams in shipping and receiving. We were up and moving a lot, I like that. And I get to talk to everybody a little bit because everybody has a role in the work I’m doing. I just like how interactive it is and that I’m not sitting at a desk all day.” 

Her exposure to a real-world business environment has shifted her thinking regarding a potential career post-graduation. After already modifying her educational path from a science to business focus, she finds herself again shifting her preference from marketing to management. 

“My personal goals before coming into this were focused on marketing,” Tara explains. “But I think working here changed that in a way… And it’s brought me to think about the management side of things. Not because that’s the position that I’m in, but because being around people that are working in management all the time has changed the way that I would like to go about my education and my personal goals.” 

With respect to her future with JDI specifically, Tara is open to any opportunity within her realm of business. In addition to her interest in Management, Tara feels that something in the Health and Safety department might be what she is best suited for. 

“I guess I never thought of a Health and Safety person or team working in every one of the businesses, but that is something that is interesting to me,” Tara explains. “And my dad does the SafeChoice administration [here at UTT Dieppe] so that’s also interesting and I think I’d like to try something like that in the future.” 

Who knows, maybe you’ll see Tara and her dad on a JDI Generations feature sooner rather than later!

 Tara MacKinnon
 Tara Mackinnon, photographed by Alex Bishop


JDI's Transportation and Logistics Division wishes all students the best of luck as they return to their studies this fall. Have a safe, happy and productive year!