A Glimpse of Life as an Adult (Abbott Summer Internship)

Daniel Donchev Biomedical, Daniel, Internship, Viterbi Summer, Work Leave a Comment

After an unbelievable experience studying abroad in Rome last summer, I thought I would not have a summer as dense and as meaningful in the near future. I’m happy to report that I was wrong.

This summer, I have been interning for Abbott Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio. Abbott is a huge company and consists of many different divisions including: Diabetes, Cardiovascular, Nutrition, Neuromodulation, and Pharmaceuticals. Columbus is the headquarters of the Nutrition division. Some of the nutrition products Abbott makes include Pedialyte (a drink to prevent dehydration and replace nutrients and electrolytes), PediaSure (drinks and protein shakes that help kids gain weight), Glucerna (shakes and bars that help manage blood sugar and diabetes), and Similac (advanced infant formula).

Even within the Nutrition division in Columbus, there are several sites spread throughout the city. Ross Park (home of Finance, Commercial & R&D), the manufacturing plant located in downtown (where a lot of the nutritional products are produced), the Distribution Center (where all the products made in the plant are collected and then shipped out), Easton Square (home of Supply Chain and Logistics).

I’m working for the Supply Chain Margin & Profitability Organization. Our team’s goal is to identify, assess, and implement cost savings opportunities across all of Abbott’s manufacturing plants (domestic and international). One of my main priorities has been to host and attend all-day workshops in Altavista, Virginia and Columbus, Ohio along with my manager. The goal of these workshops is to sit down with leadership of the plants and to note the pain points and bottlenecks that they consistently struggle with (regarding packaging and materials) and jot down potential solutions as to how they may be resolved. At the end of each workshop we exit with about 50 different ideas. We ask the plant to prioritize them in order of importance and from then on, it is our job to work with the right teams and identify whether the ideas are viable and if they are, we push them forward. In addition to the workshops themselves, I have been tasked with improving a knowledge repository that hosts all of the ideas that have been collected during each of these workshops over the past year or so.

Some other projects I have been working on include a series of surveys to evaluate how effective these workshops are and how we could improve them in future. I’ve been evaluating alternate suppliers for some of the raw materials we use to make our products such as soy protein and sugar. But my internship experience at Abbott has been so much more than just showing up to work every day and making progress on my projects. I’ve had the privilege to set up numerous one-on-ones with employees across all of the different functions within Nutrition. We’ve toured the different facilities in the region including the Tipp City plant, Distribution Center, and Product Research Center. These events have had a profound impact on my career outlook and I’ve formed some invaluable relationships that I will look to maintain beyond this internship.

One of the biggest highlights has been intern week which was held in mid-June. During this week, Abbott flew all of its 100+ US interns to its headquarters in Chicago for four days of professional development, philanthropy, and social events. We had the honor of asking the CEO, Miles White questions, and we had a lunch at the historic Abbott house with many of the corporate officers. Hearing the various experiences and career paths that many of these influential leaders have gone through was truly inspirational. We participated in leadership training sessions, assembled prosthetic hands for those in need, and visited the Field Museum in downtown Chicago.

Beyond events coordinated by Abbott for all of the interns, the organic community that formed within Columbus has been the cherry on top of this summer. Each weekend we get together and go places – we’ve been to the Columbus Art Museum, the Columbus Art Festival, the Easton Art Affair, Putin Bay, a Jazz and Rib Festival, Hocking Hills, Alum Creek, the German Village. I’ll be completely honest – when I first found out I would be interning in a mid-western city, I didn’t know what to expect. However, all I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of different things there are to do in the area. We’ve all come to realize and cherish the fact that Columbus is an up and coming city and has a wide variety of events that occur year-round.

As my time at Abbott comes to a close, I’ve come to appreciate all of the friendships I’ve formed and adventures I’ve been on. This summer has given me a sense of what my life could potentially look like after I graduate from USC. While I will miss all the people and places here in Columbus, I’m eager to return to USC and embark on the beginning of the end of my collegiate journey – senior year is right around the corner!

Daniel is studying Biomedical Engineering. Click the image above to find out more about him!


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