This spring, companies in almost all industries were forced to rescind internship offers and cancel programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But early on, health technology company Abbott (No. 8 on the 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) decided that its high school and college internship programs were too important to its talent development strategy to cancel, especially because every year more than 60% of its interns become Abbott employees. The company swiftly transitioned its internships to a remote, online-only format.
“This year, when things changed, it was not even a question for us whether we were going to [facilitate the internships] or not. We acknowledged the challenges around it, but the only question we asked ourselves was how we were going to do it,” Vildan Kehr, divisional vice president of global talent acquisition at Abbott, said. Kehr is responsible for leading Abbott’s internship programs which focus on all of Abbott’s business areas for more than 200 high school and college interns.
Yasmine Wilford, a rising sophomore studying chemical engineering at Ohio State University, is participating in her fourth Abbott internship this summer. Her internships in high school focused on professional development, and now that she’s in college, she is learning how to hone her skills in third-party manufacturing quality assurance.