Our ongoing “Meet Me in 5” series covers 5 people, topics or questions to illustrate how Covance nurtures exceptional people, provides an energizing purpose and enables extraordinary potential in its employees’ careers.
In this article, we spoke to Rebecca Verhulst, Associate Director, Global University Relations, to learn the history of the internship program at Covance, its value to the business and what the program means for interns looking to gain exposure in a global organization.
1. Beyond the books: Expanding opportunities for STEM+H students
The Covance Internship Program was formed 10 years ago for STEM+H (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics + Healthcare) students to expand their knowledge beyond campus and experience hands-on work and explore their career potential within a global contract research organization (CRO).
“Our program represents an opportunity to learn the industry and explore career options,” explained Rebecca. “Supporting day-to-day activities in drug development and clinical research is not something that is covered in standard chemistry or biology textbooks. Students need exposure to this field to understand the potential job roles. The Covance Internship Program helps cultivate careers in the STEM+H field.”
2. A hands-on experience for interns
After completing a welcome workshop and meeting their team, Covance interns are matched with a mentor and assigned a departmental project. The projects are actual business priorities within the departments. Students, departments and project teams all benefit from a fresh set of eyes, new ideas and eager interns to help get the work done.
“In addition to project work, Covance interns are typically assigned 2-3 tasks within the department. This gives the student exposure to what a ‘day in the life’ is like in key job roles at Covance. It also frees up some of our more experienced, tenured staff to focus on more complex client work,” said Rebecca.
“At the end of their program, each intern is required to deliver a presentation to their department leadership. Some have even developed a scientific poster and presented at conferences, their universities and student clubs. It’s a true learning experience. Furthermore, this gives Covance and our intern program great external exposure and brand recognition.”
3. Recognizing the value provided by interns
Covance interns aren’t the only ones that learn new skills. Their mentors are also fine-tuning their coaching skills and developing management skills as they introduce their mentees to the business and help them explore career paths.
Interns are also valued for their own viewpoints to help advance drug development. “I like that interns provide fresh perspectives,” said Rebecca. “Our business is always interested in new ideas and interns enter our program with a totally different lens. They are engaged, ask great questions, offer insightful ideas and often challenge the ways that we work. As a result, we’ve had some very innovative outcomes from their projects.”
4. Insider advice for applying to internships
While the Covance internship program can be very competitive, Rebecca provided some advice for interested candidates.
“When reviewing applications, we consider a number of factors,” she said. “We are most interested in well-rounded candidates, who demonstrate innovation, an appetite for continuous learning and extracurricular activities and part-time work experience.”
“For example, if you were in a business competition or debate club, you probably are good at considering multiple factors in decision making and ‘thinking on your feet.’ Or if you worked at a fast food restaurant or the supply closet in a chemistry department, this type of experience shows us that you can balance multiple tasks and can thrive in our fast-paced work environment at Covance.”
5. Building a talent pipeline of global leaders
Accepting interns from around the world every year, the Covance Internship Program attracts high-achieving students from dozens of top-tier universities. On average, about half of the interns return to Covance as full-time employees after graduation, attesting to the success of the program’s meaningful experience and business impact.
“We go beyond providing interns with a job,” explained Rebecca. “We focus on meaningful work experiences, exposure, professional development and developing our future talent pipeline. Our program is training the future leaders of our organization.”
Learn more about the unique opportunities available for internships in the US, UK and Asia-Pacific region on our Global Internship Program website.