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Going virtual: how we reimagined our summer internship program

Going virtual: how we reimagined our summer internship program

I’ve always been proud of our Troop’s ability to adapt and respond to new challenges. That “make it happen” spirit is one of SurveyMonkey’s core values, and has been particularly apparent throughout the current coronavirus crisis. I’ve seen it in the way our teams continue to deliver on company goals and in the way everyone has stepped up to support each other as a community. It’s not just that we’re trying to adapt to unprecedented challenges—we’re aiming to adapt and thrive. 

And that’s exactly what was top of mind when our leadership team met to discuss our upcoming summer internship program. This annual program is a chance for us to provide students with an opportunity to translate their education into hands-on professional experience. It’s also an incredibly valuable part of our new grad hiring. The program not only attracts top entry-level talent, it’s also a critical source for diverse talent. Since high-performing interns can often turn into full-time employees, this fuels our diversity goals and makes our Troop even stronger.

The 2020 summer program is set to include 42 interns working across 11 departments, from engineering and sales to HR and product research. Like the rest of the world, these students’ lives have been disrupted. They’ve had to contend with cancelled on-campus semesters, an abrupt shift to online learning and communication, and cancelled or postponed professional opportunities. Many are counting on this internship to help launch their careers and view this summer as a pivotal moment that will help dictate their future. 

Despite the upheaval of the past few weeks, and SurveyMonkey’s company-wide shift to remote work, canceling our summer internship program wasn’t an option for us. We know that these students have worked so hard, and we value their contributions. So we made a commitment: SurveyMonkey’s 2020 summer internship program will be 100% virtual. 

It takes a Troop to manage, organize, and shape this program, and our focus is simple: 

1. Deliver a best-in-class intern experience

It’s true that this summer’s program will look and feel different. But, just like every year, we’re committed to providing a meaningful, high-quality intern experience. Our interns are truly part of the Troop. They work on projects that support our product roadmap. They get direct access to our executive team, including our CEO, Zander. They’re encouraged to ask “why?” and “what if?” and to follow their curiosity, whether their focus is technical or non-technical. And perhaps most importantly, all interns work directly with both their manager and a mentor. The latter is every intern’s first line of support and provides weekly 1:1’s, feedback on performance and development, and more. This incoming group will get those same great opportunities and connections, albeit remotely.

2. Use this as an opportunity to #MakeItHappen

Of course, there might be a few little bumps as we settle into this new program, but we “trust the Troop” to get us through it together.

We’ve considered, and continue to consider, the changes we’ll need to make to accommodate our virtual interns. Among other things, this includes shifting onboarding and social events to a virtual format, providing additional communication channels for interns, and developing a best practices guide to assist managers and mentors. Adapting to this new format is a chance to not only follow through on our commitment to this incoming group of interns, but also reassess what’s needed to help them succeed in general.

A virtual summer internship program may be new for SurveyMonkey, but we’re ready to make it an amazing experience. We can’t wait to welcome this summer’s interns and add their fresh energy, curiosity, and passion to the Troop!