Experience Beyond Years- Training Tomorrow’s Workforce
Experience can oftentimes be more valuable than formal education, writes Esther Michael. Elanco values the experience of its employees, and the U.S. high school co-op program is one manifestation of this.

As a member of the program, I’m a high school student given the privilege of spending my senior year as a sort of office intern at our Global Headquarters in Greenfield, Indiana, USA. I attend regular senior classes at our local high school in the weekday mornings, take a quick lunch break, and head over to Headquarters for an afternoon in the office.

The co-op program began as a self-sustaining way to get some extra manpower and for high school students to gain experience in the corporate workforce. This school year, there are 15 students onsite.

The program has expanded from purely administrative help to now assignment by department, ranging from Corporate Communications to IT to Maintenance and many others. Job tasks vary from scanning field research notes to creating visual graphics to helping create training videos and documents. As one of my fellow co-ops shares, “I love the environment and core values at Elanco; everyone here is friendly and welcoming.”

In my own experience in Commercial Services, a typical day might include collecting, scanning, and rerouting mail from our customers, setting up meetings and coordinating schedules for my supervisor, or working on data entry for various projects. I have been able to help support the Cause and Shared Value team as an additional project, seeing the relationship between cause and business in action.

I have a new appreciation for why we do what we do, and what “food and companionship enriching life” really means. I am very interested in pursuing social entrepreneurship in my career: the approach of using business as a tool to support positive causes, fund and implement solutions, and make a real difference in the world.

Through assisting our team in corporate social responsibility (CSR), I’ve got a taste of real-life integration of business and impact on a corporate level. Our support of organizations like Heifer International and Pet Partners are crucial for making the change we want to see in the world.

Working at Elanco allows us, as high school students, to explore what a real, thriving corporation looks like from the inside, and even gives us insight as to what our future careers might look like. As another high school co-op notes, “This program sets students up with a foundation for a solid resume that will spill over to future job or career opportunities.”

The co-op program runs through the school year, from July to the following June. Being just 18 years old, and getting ready to graduate high school, I am so grateful for the opportunity to get a taste of a corporate environment and learn soft skills at such a young age. This is a gift that not many companies offer to students my age, setting Elanco apart in how they interact with young and aspiring business professionals. I think I can speak for our group of 15 students in the high school co-op program in saying that we love our positions and the experiences they bring.

It is a joy to contribute my skills, seemingly miniscule in comparison to our full-time talent, to better our organization and support its function. I’m excited to come to work every single day to interact with, learn from, support, and be challenged by the incredible people that make up Elanco Animal Health.

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