Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared in the Aug. 26 edition of USA TODAY.

Each summer, over the course of about 10 weeks, undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world come to Atlanta, Ga. to immerse themselves in The Coca-Cola Company. Work in departments like marketing, engineering, finance, public affairs and communications, they take on challenging projects, learn about Company initiatives and write about their experiences.

So what does it take to be an intern for one of the most widely-recognized companies in the world?

Brooke Metz, current Coca-Cola intern and writer for USA TODAY College, sat down with Jason Farr, Coke's global COE leader for talent acquisition, to discuss Coca-Cola’s intern program and the qualities the company looks for in its interns.

Why does The Coca-Cola Company hire interns?

Summer interns bring a host of benefits to the organization. They are intellectually curious — bringing fresh thinking and perspectives to how they approach their work and solve problems. They are innovative, collaborative in their approach and thrive in an environment of diverse thinking. All of these things add great value to the business. In addition, we want to give interns exposure to corporate culture and opportunities to start their career. Coke interns form a great network of young professionals who can become leaders in all types of businesses in the years ahead. Of course, we hope that many of these interns will someday have the opportunity to come back and work with us at Coke.

What does Coca-Cola offer interns?

Interning with Coke gives students an opportunity to engage in meaningful work, learn from talented employees across the business, build networks with other interns and colleagues and participate in structured learning activities.

Throughout the summer, we place a heavy emphasis on community service, networking, education and socializing. To immerse interns in all these areas over the summer, we host outings like [attending] Braves games, river clean-ups, presentations from dynamic business leaders,and tours at other Atlanta companies where we can learn about their innovation.

We also want to get our interns out in the business to understand its different facets. Many interns volunteer to ride along with our front-line sales teams or route drivers to better understand how we sell and distribute our products.

What kind of experience will interns have over the course of their internship?

We want to make sure every internship is impactful to the system and that our interns are having fun and enjoying their work. These aren’t coffee-run internships — we integrate every intern into a core part of our business. We want the intern to feel challenged in their assignment and to contribute back to the business. We’ve had interns launch social media platforms for the company and do engineering and scientific projects. We want them to focus on priorities for the company.

Does Coca-Cola often extend offers to interns after their internship is complete?

If there’s a business need and the intern has done a great job, hopefully the relationship is continued, whether it’s right away or in the future. Interns should make sure they deliver solid results, and the rest will come from there.

If there’s one key quality Coca-Cola wants interns to have, what would it be?

I think key qualities would be curiosity and a willingness to work hard. You have to genuinely want to work hard. When it’s part of who you are, you’ll be successful.


Brooke Metza student at Wake Forest University, interned with Coca-Cola this summer and was a fall 2014 Collegiate Correspondent at USA TODAY.