MailChimp’s summer internship program started in 2013. In the 3 years since, we’ve had the privilege of bringing in some of the brightest, most talented college students from around the country to spend time with our teams. Following my involvement with MailChimp’s 2015 internship program, I had a few thoughts about how we could make it even better. So as soon as last year’s internships wrapped up, I asked if I could manage the program this summer. It takes a village to shape young minds, and I wanted to very deliberately lead that village.
Thanks to our amazing recruiting team, we ended up with 19 interns for summer 2016, spanning across 8 different departments! Although they’d only be with us from May-August, communication started months beforehand, and I had a lot to do to ensure we’d be set on day one. Not only did I need to stay in touch with the interns to make sure they had all the information they needed before they started, but I also had to keep their managers in the loop regarding expectations for the summer, and select the best Chimpanion for each intern.
When the interns arrived on their first day, they went through the same onboarding experience as a regular full-time employee, including a coffee chat with our co-founders, where they were able to ask Ben and Dan questions about the history of MailChimp and the culture of the company. Then, every few weeks, we organized a lunch to give the interns an opportunity to chat with our intern panel—current Chimps who started out as interns before being hired on full time! We also planned a bunch of activities for them to bond with their Chimpanions (and each other), like laser tag, “field trips” to the Georgia Aquarium and Civil Rights Museum, and Friday afternoon root beer floats.
The interns were also able to take advantage of our other company-wide extracurricular opportunities, like playing kickball, touring our data center, and attending MailChimp Night School—an after-hours event series where Chimps can learn new skills from their fellow employees. (I had the privilege of attending the street magic class with one of them!) Each intern was also enrolled in a mini version of MailChimp University, where they learned about 401(k) plans and practiced their presentation skills.
Now, while—of course—we wanted the interns to have a fun summer and meet a bunch of new people, we also wanted them to work on projects that interest them, teach them new skills, and stretch their limits. We wanted them to walk away in August feeling like they made an impact on our company and that we helped them grow professionally. So at summer’s end, all of the interns participated in a Lunch and Learn session where they gave presentations about the projects they worked on during their time at MailChimp HQ.
The downside to summer internships is that, unfortunately, summer must come to an end. While I’m happy that several of the interns have accepted offers to extend their time with us, it’s a bittersweet moment when many of them head back to school. Through their exit interviews, I’ve gained insight into what they’ve enjoyed, how they’ve developed their skills, and which aspects of the program we might want to tweak for 2017. Our interns had plenty of great things to say about their teammates and managers. And I can safely say that I’m proud of the intern village we’ve built at MailChimp.