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ABB Canada offers internships and mentorship programs for new graduates.Supplied

When Lillian Chiu heard global technology leader ABB Canada was offering its Discovery program for engineering graduates, she knew that was exactly what she wanted. The 24-year-old had previously completed three internships with the Montreal-based company while studying electrical engineering at McGill University, so it already felt aligned with the company’s values around sustainability and using technology to do good in the world.

“It’s the perfect way to kickstart a career because the program offers you the possibility of exploring different functions and departments within the company,” says Chiu. “They want you to see what you like and dislike so you can find your place and define what you want before further committing yourself. I feel privileged to be in the program.”

ABB offers internships as well as two programs specifically for young talent. The global early talent programs include rotations, mentorships or soft skills training within its finance or information systems functions. ABB Discovery is its business-driven rotational program of 18-24 months, divided into three or four rotations. Participants can explore different teams and roles in sales, management, operations, lean manufacturing, supply chain and more.

“It’s like a red carpet they roll out in front of you, where they present you with all these opportunities,” says Chiu. “You get to try out a variety of roles, meet different managers and have mentorships with different people. I feel valued at the company, even though I’m just an entry-level engineer.”

Chiu is currently working for the railway segment at ABB, which is exactly what she wanted for her first rotation, and will move on to her choice of digital for her second. It’s only been six months, but she feels it’s a good fit with the best yet to come.

“Like all my generation, I want to bring change to the world – and ABB does that,” says Chiu. “If you look at the technology we’re developing, it’s innovative and cutting edge. I feel like I can do meaningful work here that gives me purpose. I can have a role in changing the world.”

Guillaume Girard, manager, production engineering, process automation measurement & analytics, says what young people coming in want is to work on real projects. What they don’t want is anything clerical or repetitive.

“They want something physical they can touch or tangible where they can see the data and get good results,” says Girard. “People like working for a purpose, where they feel they can have a real impact. I think that’s what makes people want to continue with us.”

When interviewing to hire interns, Girard says attitude comes first.

“I focus a lot on whether the person has a great attitude towards working in teams and being open to other people’s ideas,” says Girard. “Okay, so that’s your diploma, but what are your successes, how did you do it and what do you want to achieve during the program? Sometimes it’s just a good fit between the skill set and the needs of the team, but more often it’s that this person has a good team spirit that will work well with the project.”

After internships, Girard says the early talent and ABB Discovery programs are powerful in helping young people grow and develop.

“These programs are more based on mentorship and that mentorship will help them develop both soft and hard skills, and to be able to evaluate themselves in terms of competencies and requirements,” says Girard.

“If you have really talented people, they can bloom in the ABB environment. It’s a unique program for the next generation of leaders.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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