Interns have been a fundamental part of our talent pipeline at Real Chemistry since our founder and CEO Jim Weiss opened the company’s doors 20 years ago. In fact, Real Chemistry’s very first intern now leads a media and engagement team of more than 50 best-in-class precision storytellers.
Graduates of our intern program have gone on to make some of the most meaningful contributions toward our mission of making the world a healthier place for all. Sometimes, they subsequently join Real Chemistry on a full-time, permanent basis. And while that’s certainly our preference, others end up taking their experience at Real Chemistry with them and go on to make an impact at other organizations or for other customers.
In any case, we dedicate significant time and resources every year to designing an intern experience that prepares next-generation talent for a healthcare landscape that is defined by constant disruption, driven largely by increasing trends of consumerization, personalization and digitization.
One could make the argument that the resources and budget earmarked for running an internship program could be better spent pursuing seasoned talent with rich experiences and potentially lucrative business connections of their own.
After all, intern programs—at least good intern programs—aren’t “off the shelf” solutions that run themselves. They require a significant commitment, including having dedicated individuals oversee the program and enlisting others who are committed to being a line manager, mentor or supportive team member. Operating an intern program is not only good business—interns at Real Chemistry make meaningful contributions to existing customer work—it’s also a way for us to “future-proof” our business.
At Real Chemistry, we know that our people are our greatest asset. We provide an employee experience that supports the entrepreneurial spirit and status quo-busting mindsets of our people, and we’re dedicated to providing the same for our interns. We’re proud of the programs we’ve operated in the past, but it’s not in our nature to settle or rest on our laurels. This summer, our revamped (and virtual) intern program will welcome nearly 90 interns—selected from more than 7,000 applications—for what we know will be an incredible 10 weeks.
For this summer’s program, we knew we needed to approach things differently—in part due to the challenges of operating a program during a pandemic, but also out of a desire to make good on our promise to make our company a model for a diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment. As we started recruiting and interviewing for this new crop of talent, we made it a point not to get caught up in the finer details of someone’s background. Instead, we assessed their candidacy through the lens of their potential for growth. By coupling this growth potential with a robust onboarding process, one where we can train interns on the skills they don’t yet possess, we’ve ended up with a program primed to grow in-house talent.
In addition to recruiting the most diverse class of interns at Real Chemistry to date, we’re planning to maximize their experience by being intentional about the experiences we want them to have and communicating—maybe overcommunicating—to help set expectations and provide a roadmap to make sure they are on the right path from Day One.
We gave serious thought to the interesting work that needs to get done (existing or planned) and the experience we want to provide. Having an intern is so much more than an extra pair of hands—it provides them with an experiential learning program and an opportunity to contribute to meaningful client/customer-focused work. By committing to an ideal summer intern experience upfront, we worked backwards from there to make it a reality.
Not only will our summer 2021 interns be a great addition to their team and contribute meaningfully to the work we do every day, but our teams will have an opportunity to learn from this younger crew and reexamine how we approach our work and each other in the future. That is, after all, a core tenet here at Real Chemistry—showing up and shaping the future.
Stephanie Garcia is chief people officer at Real Chemistry.