30 interns at WPS Health Solutions ‘Pay it Forward’ through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives

MADISON, Wis.—Aug. 25, 2021—The 12-week summer internship program at WPS Health Solutions was held virtually for the second year, concluding at the end of August.

This year’s program was led by Casey Schmidt, Corporate Recruiter-Internship Coordinator and Talent Acquisition Director Tina Wallace.

Each year, the interns are tasked with a Pay it Forward project as a part of their overall responsibilities, something they can leave for the next class of interns or other employees at WPS. After an extraordinary year of social unrest, the 2021 class decided to take a deep dive into the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives at WPS.

The students researched, explored, and made recommendations to expand the existing DEI programs. Working hand-in-hand with different departments and Jihan Bekiri, Vice President of DEI, they evaluated current initiatives, sought out gaps or places for opportunity, researched, and prepared recommendations.

The interns identified four areas of interest: Employee Resource Groups, Mentorship and Sponsorship, Military and Veteran Inclusion Strategy, and Diverse Talent Partnerships. Then, the interns divided into four teams and designed a well-researched presentation that they presented to WPS leadership.

“Working on the project with the rest of my intern class was super rewarding,” said Erica Casper, Marketing and Communications Intern. “All summer, we researched and put together an hour and a half presentation on four different initiatives to learn about and improve the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at WPS. DEI is such an important topic, and I am super proud to be able to contribute my ideas and research”

Jihan commented on their work, “I am incredibly proud of our summer interns and appreciate the recommendations they have provided. Their thorough research, thoughtful approach, and relevant perspectives will be critical in informing our DEI journey—we will be a stronger, more inclusive WPS because of their guidance.”

The Pay it Forward project is just one part of the internship program. WPS interns focused on

  • 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, and daily meetings.
  • Gaining project management and team-building skills by working on the Pay it Forward project.
  • Gaining public speaking and leadership skills by presenting their projects to their managers and the executive team.