Students Find Ways to Learn and Connect During Gilead and Kite Summer Internship Program

Stories@Gilead - September 14, 2020

When university students applied for summer internships in early March, they did so expecting an in-person experience at a Gilead or Kite site. As it became clear on-site internships would not be possible due to the pandemic, interns, and the company, had to adjust to the unforeseen proposition of entirely virtual internships.

“Our Talent Acquisition team had to move quickly to come up with engaging virtual programs with managers hosting interns to help them continue to provide rich professional development opportunities remotely,” says Bill Stott, Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition at Gilead. “We have been incredibly impressed with how our nearly 100 interns have adapted to an online experience, developed their professional networks and strongly contributed to work virtually in the United States and United Kingdom.”

We caught up with interns Jessica Diarra, Steven Pervez, Lauren Hayat, Ireti Onasanya and Zara Malik about their recent summer experience.

As a lab-based major, I was skeptical at first when I found out my internship with Kite would be held virtually – I wondered how it was going to work. The projects were transitioned well to focus on efficiency and improvement aspects of research laboratories.

I worked on organizing schedules for labs, learned how to use data visualization tools to make sure spaces have proper sanitation levels for manufacturing and assisted with finding the most efficient way to move throughout the laboratories. It was a wonderful experience to understand how science integrates with manufacturing and how that affects a person receiving care.

I’m hoping this opportunity helps me become a scientist at a biotech company in the future – it’s something I really want to pursue.

While I was able to support activities in several areas, I thought learning about how scientific data can be leveraged to support operational efficiencies in clinical trial designs was especially exciting.

I was nervous coming into the program for a virtual internship because of the lack of face-to-face interaction. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to sit in on high-level meetings and contract negotiations, and had the opportunity to meet with stakeholders across a variety of teams within the organization. It opened my eyes to the different ways that leaders can contribute to the success of an organization and how the moving parts are interconnected.

I felt that I was able to provide value to Gilead and the work the company does during my internship.

This summer I assisted with building a more robust diverse talent pipeline, researching and proposing virtual recognition methods, and finding innovative change management strategies. I also attended more than a dozen events where Gilead executives spoke to interns about their work and shared tips for students entering the workforce. Fun activities such as an online escape room with fellow interns and a cooking class in which I learned how to cook risotto gave us a taste of the importance of team-building.

Gilead has made me even more determined to work in a realm where I can make a tangible impact – I am walking into my future determined and confident.

During my internship I researched and analyzed sources, insights and implications for Gilead’s patient engagement approach within the Medical Affairs function. My team members and manager made it a point to ensure that I had a chance to be involved in work that has an internal and external impact for the organization.

I hope to build an impactful career within this sector that puts a patient’s insights and perspectives at the forefront of research and the drug development process. I believe that the experience I gained will help me pursue roles within my newfound areas of interest, such as patient engagement, clinical research and medical information.

I’ve been really lucky to be involved in a number of interesting projects with Gilead’s Inflammation team. For example, I have deepened my understanding of what documents are required to run a clinical trial and elements that are essential to maintain inspection readiness.

I enjoyed meeting the Clinical Operations team and discussing career paths. The team adapted incredibly to the virtual format and provided an environment where I felt welcome and supported through regular meetings with my supervisor and a fellow intern “buddy.”

I know this experience will help me greatly in pursuing a role in clinical operations in the future and I am grateful to have had the opportunity.