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Summer internship programs: Recruiting the next generation of leaders


For more than two decades, Cardinal Health’s summer internship program has helped the company identify tomorrow’s talented workforce. “We are always seeking top talent and new ideas to move our company forward,” said Brian Moore, Cardinal Health’s Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition. “Our internship program connects high-potential college and MBA students with engaged teams across our businesses. As interns, the students can develop their skills and prepare for full-time positions. The combination of new, young talent with experienced professionals sparks new ideas, new conversations and innovation – all key to our ability to deliver the healthcare products and solutions that improve people’s lives every day.”

The 2021 internship class of nearly 100 undergraduates and six MBA students was the most diverse in the program’s history: 64% of the interns were women, and 60% were ethnically diverse. The class also included interns outside of the U.S. for the first time, with students joining our facilities in Ireland, Mexico and Thailand.

The interns were imbedded with teams in 14 different departments across the organization, including finance, human resources, information technology, logistics, strategy, analytics, supply chain, manufacturing and marketing.

“Every year, our class of interns brings fresh perspectives and new energy to the company,” said Ashley Manning, Manager, College Relations, and manager of the Cardinal Health Internship Program. “We match bright talent with high-impact opportunities; students have opportunities to build skills and begin making an impact on the future of healthcare. Our internship program is a win-win, for the students, and for Cardinal Health.”

In addition to working within their assigned departments, students participated in specialized programming throughout the summer, designed to provide them with access to senior executives, networking opportunities, professional development and community service projects.

Toward the end of the program, students honed their presentation skills as they prepared and delivered an end-of-experience overview to their team and business leaders. Finally, before leaving to return to school to complete their degrees, each intern had the opportunity to interview for a full-time position at the company.

“Over 50 years, Cardinal Health grew into a global leader in healthcare services, focused on growth innovation and technology,” Moore said. “Our internship program helps us identify the next generation of leaders who will carry our company into the next 50 years.”

Below are profiles of three of our 2021 interns – all of whom will be joining Cardinal Health full time in 2022.

Gcinile Shongwe, Marketing Intern

Throughout her internship, Gcinile Shongwe worked with the business support services marketing team for OptiFreight® Logistics. A senior honors student at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, Shongwe is pursuing a degree in marketing and business analytics.

“Logistics was entirely new to me,” she said. “I came to Cardinal Health knowing that I love the creativity involved in advertising and marketing; the internship helped me understand how data analytics help marketers make better decisions. It was really exciting to learn how analytics tie so directly to the work.”

Shongwe worked on several marketing projects over the summer. She highlighted the three brand pillars of OptiFreight Logistics® – tailored solutions, committed experts, and innovation and insights – and by collecting customer success stories, demonstrated how those pillars show up in real customer interactions. The project serves as a resource for the national sales teams when they promote additional services for customers and winning new business. She also helped develop and execute an email campaign to promote OptiFreight’s large freight expertise to customers. And she created and organized a searchable digital repository for the business’ requests for proposals (RFPs). 

“I learned so much this summer,” Shongwe said. “I learned how to work independently and how to ask for feedback. I got comfortable working with ambiguity. Because my internship was completely virtual, I had to learn new ways of making connections.”

Most significantly, she said, she better understands the breadth of Cardinal Health’s work. “The work directly impacts patients,”  she said. “For example, when the logistics team at OptiFreight Logistics® finds more affordable ways to ship, they make makes supplies more affordable for healthcare systems,” and, in turn, more affordable for patients.

Shongwe found the culture at Cardinal Health collaborative and enthusiastic. “It feels like anything is possible here – you can keep growing, learning and changing paths.”  Shongwe will be joining the Cardinal Health EMERGE program next year.

Julia Coniglio, Medical Segment Supply Chain Intern

Coniglio, now a senior at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., interned at a Cardinal Health medical distribution facility in Baltimore, Md., where she collaborated on process improvement projects.

“During the first week, I shadowed several different supervisors and spent a lot of time walking around the warehouse, asking questions so I could get familiar with operations and learn all the processes of fulfilling orders.”

Coniglio learned quickly. She participated in an improvement project aimed at reducing the number of errors in hard-to-pick items – those products that are similar in size or appearance that might be interchanged accidentally. “We used statistical information to identify 44 high-dollar, hard-to-pick items,” she explained.

Coniglio worked with her colleagues to identify and implement several successful solutions, including moving the hard-to-pick items into a designated location in the warehouse and increasing the size and number of signs and other visual cues that identify specific products. “Changing processes to reduce errors on those 44 products helped create more than $12,000 a month in savings,” she said.

Her internship helped bring her goals into sharper focus, Coniglio said. “The experience confirmed for me that supply chain logistics is the right path for me.”

She offers this advice for future interns: “The 10-week internship goes by so quickly. From the beginning, make sure your leaders know what your goals are. Ask lots of questions and take every opportunity to learn.”

Coniglio recently accepted an offer to join Cardinal Health’s EMERGE program – a three-year leadership development program – after she graduates. “I learned that everyone at Cardinal Health is passionate about what they do – because they know they’re making a difference. I’m definitely eager to be a part of that.”

Christian Castilla, MBA Intern, Corporate Strategy

Christian Castilla was one of six MBA interns at Cardinal Health this year, focused on helping expand the company’s customer-centric strategy.

“A customer-centric strategy means doing business in a way that ensures a positive experience for the customer in every interaction,” Castilla said. “Over 10 weeks, I had the opportunity to work with leaders and business partners, and developed a business case for expanding customer-centric work. I spent time with customer-facing employees and gained great customer insights. I researched competitors and other companies with global scale, to identify ways that Cardinal Health can improve.”

From his research, Castilla put together a list of best practices and recommendations to improve customer focus and presented them to senior management at Cardinal Health.

“The internship was a tailored, real-world experience,” he said. “My work had impact and meaning, and affirmed my desire to go into healthcare when I complete my MBA.”

With the other MBA interns, Castilla also worked on a community service project, building a strategy for a $2 million fundraising project for a nonprofit organization that serves disadvantaged youth and families in central Ohio.

“Cardinal Health has a very mission-driven culture,” Castilla said. “Everyone I worked with was focused on how they can positively impact patients and their communities.”

Castilla will join the Cardinal Health Strategy team when he completes his MBA from Cornell next year.

Editor’s note: To learn more about Cardinal Health internship programs, click on the links below:



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Cardinal Health is a distributor of pharmaceuticals, a global manufacturer and distributor of medical and laboratory products, and a provider of performance and data solutions for healthcare facilities. Subscribe to our News Alerts to get all of our latest news.