How We Are Keeping Our Internship Program Alive and Thriving Virtually

What did you spend your summers doing while you were in college? Relaxing on the beach? Traveling with friends? Well, this summer is, without a doubt, a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we are canceling our company’s coveted internship program.

This summer, a total of 22 college students from across the United States will embark on a 100% virtual (at least for the time being) paid internship journey with us. The variety of internship positions being offered this year are vast and range from sales to cybersecurity to legal to public relations, just to name a few.

Creating a rewarding virtual experience

A big part of our internship program is the hands-on experience that interns get by interacting with experts in their field of study, group activities with each other and top executives within the organization. This summer, the biggest focus will be on creating a virtual experience that is just as rewarding, fun, immersive, and challenging as an in-person experience.

All in-person social outings have been postponed, as all of our employees are working from home at this time. However, in the meantime, we’ve created virtual social team building activities that consist of fun games such as trivia, a photo guessing competition, and a virtual scavenger hunt with gift cards from Amazon, Starbucks, and UberEats as prizes.

Another way we are helping to enhance the virtual internship experience is by creating a Friday Coffee Corner that interns can use to take a break from their internship program and connect with colleagues over a virtual coffee. They can come in and out of the virtual meeting as if they were walking in and out of the break room in the office.

Getting immersed into the culture

One of the best, most well-known parts of working with us is our award-winning corporate culture. While this can be difficult for new employees or interns to experience in a virtual setting, we’re adapting to make our interns feel included and part of our fun environment every single day.

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Every intern goes through KnowBe4 University, which is an entire arm of the organization dedicated to onboarding and learning about new-school security awareness products, new job roles, and/or skills. All interns will be mailed a package containing their laptop and any other tools they need to work from home, along with detailed instructions from our IT team on how to set everything up. They also receive their first email from our incredible Onboarding team explaining everything they need to know about starting at KnowBe4. Once they start, the Onboarding team will do virtual icebreakers to get everyone comfortable, play multiple virtual games, hold professional development sessions, hold meetings with the intern’s manager, offer free lunch, and more to help make them feel like part of the team from day one.

We offer an online intranet channel dedicated entirely to working from home where any employee or intern has access to all the tools to make their work from home experience complete, including daily activities for the team such as daily virtual exercise classes, recipes, craft projects, storytime, fun photo contests and fun activities for employees and kids. We also have regular, fun team videos from our Fun and Shenanigans department, and our Employee Relations team shares best practices related to working from home. Our CEO, Stu Sjouwerman, also conducts daily meetings at 9 a.m.to brief everyone in the organization and keep them up to date.

Final send-off

We are far from typical and wouldn’t just end our internship program without a proper send-off. At the end of the summer, we hold an internship graduation party to commemorate all the interns have learned and experienced. Each intern does a presentation highlighting what they learned and accomplished during their internship. This is shared with their manager, and all who participated in the program are invited to join the party to help celebrate their accomplishments.

Conclusion

Just as college classes have been taken online, internship programs can and should still exist virtually and succeed in teaching students important new job skills and how companies are able to thrive in the face of challenges. After all, training the next generation of the workforce should be a priority. At KnowBe4, we are focused on welcoming the summer 2020 interns and making their experience as rewarding, beneficial, and fun as possible.

Erika Lance is SVP of people operations for KnowBe4.  She has worked as an executive in many different roles in previous organizations, including HR, IT, client relations, sales and operations. 

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