With many businesses around the nation canceling, postponing or shortening their internship programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program at WPS Health Solutions has continued forward – virtually.

The WPS summer intern class of 2020 at WPS is comprised of 29 interns working remotely across nine states. The interns are getting a unique chance to see what business is like when it isn’t business as usual. 

The program is being led by corporate recruiter Devon Witt and talent acquisition director Tina Wallace. Although the goals of the program remain steadfast, the way it looks this year is very different.

Witt adjusted the program so interns can still gain the opportunities they need to advance their education and careers.

“Many schools were still requiring that the student complete an internship to graduate next year, so I’m proud of WPS and the managers for honoring the commitment made to the interns,” she said. “We had one intern who had multiple internships cancel on her for this summer, but she finally found a home at WPS.”

After finishing their spring semester of classes online, collaborating in a virtual environment isn’t anything new for these interns. WPS was equally as equipped and ready to move onboarding, training, team-building activities and project work to a remote environment. At its peak, about 93 percent of all WPS employees were working remotely during the pandemic; a voluntary return-to-office program is underway.

Managers and the technology team worked together to identify equipment needs for each intern and coordinated the shipments. WPS technology experts then helped the interns resolve any issues with setting up their computers and programs.

In addition to equipment, Witt took extra steps to make sure the interns felt welcomed and connected.

“Starting in March, every other week, I would email them updates on the exciting happenings at WPS. We also mailed a ‘final exam gift,’ which included a 2020 intern T-shirt (designed by last year’s intern class), a gift card and a personalized note to each intern before kicking things off this summer.”

The talent development team conducted the onboarding in two sessions. This is the largest intern class to date, almost twice as large as last year.

Each intern will focus on four main components through the internship program: 

– Gaining skills in their functional area of study.

– Gaining exposure to a corporate culture through professional development trainings hosted by the talent development team, executive speaker series, as well as day-to-day meetings. 

– Gaining project-management and team-building skills by working on the pay-it-forward project. The collaborative effort will give next year’s interns new resources based on best practices from the 2020 class.

– Gaining public speaking and leadership skills by presenting their pay-it-forward project and everything they have learned to their managers and the executive team.

“All of the interns had a great attitude and outlook coming into the program, so I’m excited to see where the summer takes us,” Witt said.

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