Building a Meaningful Internship Program
For students, an internship is still a learning experience. To make sure interns learn and the company is protected from risk, a well-thought training program is critical.
Lauren Boyd, Seer’s People Operations Manager, explained that Seer’s internship program was the product of careful planning from several teams and is constantly tweaking the program to be more effective for students and Seer’s existing team.
“In the past 2 years, Seer’s Internship program has become increasingly structured in a good way,” said Lauren. “The trainings are similar to those of full-fledged Seer new-hires, but more of a Cliff’s Notes version.” Interns are given the basics of training and a foundational understanding of the building blocks of concepts and procedures, but aren’t trained on tools that require a user license that are available to new hires.
Each semester, Seer has budget to work with four paid interns during the Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters. Interns work 20 hours per week for 12 weeks.
Interns go through as rigorous a screening process as actual hires, including a phone screen and panel interview with a member from each division.
“Prior to the first day of their internship with Seer, they’re matched with a mentor. That mentor can be from any division,” said Lauren, clarifying how interns are given the best possible opportunity to succeed. “We try to match them based on personality and interests. If that person is really gung ho about working in SEO, they’ll be paired with someone in SEO and that mentor will be there with them throughout the duration of their internship.”
By being paired with a mentor, the intern has the opportunity to build strengths in key areas that their mentor knows they want to develop. Their mentor will conduct a mid-semester and end-of-semester evaluation, but overall, they are there to support their goals and point them in the direction of where they can develop their skills and who that intern should team up with in order to do so.
Feedback from Team Members & Interns is Crucial to Success
At Seer, an intern’s first four weeks are packed with over 35 hours of one-on-one trainings followed by ad hoc projects in a given area of focus that interns choose for their development. Based on prior feedback, Lauren noted that Seer’s People Team have seen an increasing demand from interns for worksheets or activities to help put that training to practical use and encourage retention of what was learned following training sessions.
Previously, Seer offered a Rotational Internship, which saw interns rotating between various departments. Students would spend one month each working with SEO, PPC, and Analytics
“That wasn’t doing any favors to the interns or the team. It wound up being super overwhelming for each Division and also resulted in too much downtime for the interns,” said Lauren. “We’re always collecting feedback, and that’s how we shape the internship.”
Devoting one month out of a three-month internship to just one facet of digital marketing wasn’t giving interns the opportunity to hone an area of focus and work on projects that allowed them to shine and serve up something meaningful for themselves and the company. After re-evaluating the rotational internship, Seer decided a much more customizable approach tailored to individual interns would make for a more rewarding experience.
Midway through the internship, as well as at the end, Seer’s internship coordinator sits down with interns and their mentors to gather more feedback and discuss a form filled out prior to the interview.
Some sample questions asked of interns are:
- How has your experience been thus far?
- Who have you learned the most from?
- Who has been a really impactful mentor?
- What would you do to improve the internship experience?
- What was the workload like?
On the flipside, mentors are asked to fill out a form about interns they’ve been working with, assessing their communication and technical skills.
During the feedback meeting, Seer’s internship coordinator digs deeper into the responses to make sure interns understood their voices were heard and to get more stories and discoveries from mentors about interns’ progress that may not have been covered on the form.
Although the response from Seer’s internal team and interns alike has been overwhelmingly positive, there are instances where if there are any negative experiences should be brought up too. For instance, if an intern communicates with others in a way that’s inappropriate, team members are encouraged to let others know—either via an in-person chat or through a digital performance review account system.