Progressive’s Intern Hiring Process, Integration Instrumental in Achieving High Conversion Rate

September 7, 2023 | By Kevin Gray

Interns at work at Progressive.

TAGS: Internships, nace insights, recruiting,

Last year, Progressive Insurance hired 80 interns, of whom 75 received an offer for full-time employment. Of those 75, Progressive converted 68 to full-time employees, for a 91% conversion rate, far exceeding the overall conversion rate of 57.6% for 2021-22 that NACE reported in its 2023 Internship & Co-op Report.

It also follows Progressive’s conversion rates of 84% in 2021 and 88% in 2020.

Gabe De Leon, recruiting manager at Progressive, says intern conversion is vital to the company because by hiring from its internship program, Progressive is infused with new and fresh perspectives each year.

“In addition, we are able to see which university partners’ curriculums align best with our ever-growing workforce,” De Leon explains.

“Considering the interns spend 12 weeks at Progressive during their internship, we are not only able to see both their work product and cultural fit firsthand, but the interns are also able to see and experience our incredible culture.”

Progressive extends offers to interns during the last week of their internships in August and typically gives them up to four weeks to make a decision.

An instrumental element of Progressive’s success in converting interns into full-time employees is the focus its college recruiting program places on hiring interns who would be successful regular employees.

Depending on the program, Progressive looks for candidates who:

  • Have a passion for the subject matter (e.g., IT, data and analytics, or accounting);
  • Demonstrate strong learning agility;
  • Possess good communication and teamwork skills;
  • Undertake application and exploration;
  • Have extracurricular involvement that reflects an interest in collaboration; and
  • Demonstrate problem-solving through class projects, work experience, and/or personal projects.

“[Hiring strong candidates for internships] is our main focus since we think of our interns like they’re part of our regular workforce while they are here,” De Leon says.

“Our internship interview process mirrors that of our regular employment process. We say that if our interns feel like ‘interns’ while they are at Progressive, we are clearly not doing it right because we want them to really get a feel for what it’s like to be a Progressive employee.”

This integration then starts with onboarding. De Leon explains that Progressive’s intern onboarding process involves a series of steps to ensure that new interns are welcomed, trained, and integrated into the company smoothly.

“On the first day,” he says, “we typically give interns an overview of Progressive’s core values and culture, provide them an opportunity to network with mentors, and introduce them to their team and colleagues. In addition, we give interns an overview of the summer group project that they will be working on.”

To help the interns understand what is expected of them, Progressive reviews the specific job objectives set for their role. 

“We explain the ongoing support and feedback process they will experience throughout their internship by preparing them for regular check-ins with their managers to discuss progress, address any challenges, and provide feedback on their growth and development,” De Leon notes.

During the internship, Progressive not only assesses interns for work quality, productive work habits, and customer service, it looks for evidence of:

  • A willingness to help others;
  • Intellectual curiosity;
  • A demonstrated desire and capacity to learn;
  • Initiative, professional maturity; and
  • Engagement within their business area assignment and contributions to the group project.

“In addition, throughout the entire internship, we seek feedback from those who collaborate directly with the interns and evaluate each intern against the objectives that are set at the beginning of the internship,” De Leon adds.

Progressive works hard to forge strong bonds with its interns, both during the summer session and when the interns return to campus. During the summer, the company brings its interns to the corporate headquarters in Mayfield Village, Ohio, for its “Intern Immersion Week,” which allows the interns to experience the Progressive culture in person. Activities include:

  • Networking with their managers, peers, and other business groups;
  • Attending sessions with senior leaders; and
  • Participating in fun activities to give them a flavor for what it’s like to be a full-time employee at Progressive. 

When interns return to their college campuses and the fall semester begins, Progressive recruiters, business partners, and mentors who see the value in keeping interns connected while they are back at school do so via emails, phone calls, text messages, and more.

De Leon suggests that to achieve high conversion rates, internship programs should start with gaining business support and buy-in from senior leadership.

“In addition,” he continues, “it’s important to have a solid school-selection strategy and ensure that the proper resources are being allocated to those schools—for example, deciding how many and which events the program will benefit from the most, and communicating authentically with students at every step.”

Success is also attained by going beyond the standard. For example, in addition to conversion rates, Progressive also measures acceptance rates, progression, and retention.

Says De Leon: “Our data show that our internship program continues to grow and evolve, and that we hire notable talent that ultimately become future leaders of Progressive.”  

blank default headshot of a user Kevin Gray is an associate editor at NACE. He can be reached at