April 17, 2020 | By NACE Staff
TAGS: best practices, internships, operations, nace insights, coronavirus
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
Duolingo has always hosted interns in-person at its headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, due to COVID-19, the company has decided to move entirely to a virtual program for the summer. There are several strategic and innovative steps it is taking to ensure it delivers a valuable experience for interns in this virtual work environment.
“We have created an internship program framework that can be executed both in-person and virtually,” explains Renee Davis, Duolingo’s university recruiting manager.
“Our primary goal is to make sure we don’t lose the elements of our program that Duolingo interns value most: meaningful work tied to our mission, immersion into our company culture, and an intern community that lasts beyond the summer.”
Davis says that Duolingo has been very transparent with interns about its decisions.
“One of our company operating principles is to be candid and kind, so we’ve provided consistent updates to interns via email and through our intern Facebook group,” Davis says.
For intern managers, Duolingo’s university recruiting team has created an intern manager working group to gain insight into how to translate in-person best practices into virtual best practices and to identify the resources that are most important to managers. Based on the information it is gathering, Davis and her team are building a digital toolkit with templates, slide decks, process overviews, and more that managers find most helpful.
“This will help us preserve those program elements and prepare our intern managers to manage remotely,” Davis explains.
Duolingo will also host intern manager training sessions before the program starts and facilitate bi-weekly manager meetups throughout the summer, during which managers meet in small groups and discuss tips, learnings, and challenges.
The university recruiting team has also implemented an innovative structure and resource compilation that will connect interns to Duolingo and to each other in the virtual workspace. These include:
Davis stresses that organizations can convey who they truly are and give a strong sense of their mission and culture in the virtual environment. One major way to do so is to ensure interns have work that contributes to the company’s mission.
“We hear from our interns year-over-year that opportunity to make an impact is the most valuable part of their experience,” she notes.
There are other ways to immerse students in the company and its culture. To provide interns with a forum to learn about other teams and projects, Duolingo will host weekly sessions that will provide insight into the various projects happening throughout the company, and sessions that give a deeper look into each team and what it does.
“We will also have several virtual company culture initiatives that interns will be encouraged to participate in, such as, weekly all-hands meetings via Zoom; monthly employee meet and greets; work-from-home Slack channels to share pet photos, silver linings, and more; and virtual clubs focused on a variety of interests, such as theatre, yoga, running, books, movies, and more,” Davis says.
She offers some additional strategies for providing beneficial internships virtually, including to:
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