The Importance Of Internship Programs

  • by , Featured Contributor, September 17, 2020

Like so many companies in the technology and advertising worlds, our perspective in late March was that, because of the pandemic, it would be too difficult to move forward with the summer internship program we had been running for 11 years.

However, after much internal discussion, we decided to go forward and welcome our summer 2020 class of 10 interns. We were greatly inspired by CloudFlare CEO Matt Prince, whom I have gotten to know from Union Square Ventures portfolio events, and who famously announced in early April that his company was not only going forward with its summer internship program but going to double its size.

Our developing a virtual program turned out to be exactly the right decision. Here are some of the reasons why:

Virtual can really work for an internship. For sure, a virtual internship is quite different from an in-office experience for both the intern and the company, but no different from all of the virtual versus office issues that so many of us have been grappling with for these past six months. 



Fully integrating interns into operating teams as if they were new employees meant that their “virtual” experience this summer was no different from what was the “real” experience for all of us operating companies largely or fully virtual at this time anyway.

Another plus: There was no danger of anyone asking interns to get coffee, pick up takeout or make copies!

Interns got a lot out of it. A big theme we heard from all of our interns was how much they learned. They ended up attending many more operational meetings than they probably would have if their internship was in person, since the process only required adding another person to the Zoom. Plus, since so much decision-making happened in the Zooms, rather than in small private huddles after meetings, they really got to see decision processes in way they never might have normally.

We got a lot out of it. If you want to do market research on the potential for permissioned ads in console video games, there's no better group -- probably no other group -- to lead that research than high-school and college-aged students. If you want someone to tell the emperor they have no clothes -- that your website is terrible, is hard to understand and is poorly managed for search optimization -- there is nothing like a couple of interns in your marketing department to give you the tough love.

We should always be growing talent. Internships are critical on-ramps into industries. If we don’t provide ways for students or those changing careers to learn about how technology is changing the world of advertising, we won’t have as much talent to draw from when we make permanent hires.

Yes, this pandemic has put enormous strain on all of us, our families and our companies, but it has been even tougher on students hoping to enter the workforce. That is what inspired me in Matt Prince’s blog and was my biggest takeaway. This was our eleventh summer internship program and, for sure, we had some of the best interns and best experiences we’ve ever had. Now that it’s over, and we’re on to our fall internship program, it’s hard to imagine we once considered not doing it.

What do you think? Do you see internship programs as essential?

7 comments about "The Importance Of Internship Programs".
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  1. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, September 17, 2020 at 3:34 p.m.

    Paula, ypur criticism is unfair and without any justification. The majority of our internships were paid, and well paid. We sought candidates far beyond the network of people that work at the company, working directly with a number of schools and organizations to find them. In fact, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter and racial inequaity movement, our company employees voted to establish two paid internships in product management dedicated to Black students at public universiies and schools where tech companies do not typically recruit. We found two outstanding students, whch just goes to show you that the best way to build a more diverse workforce is to grow the pool of candidates.

  2. Conor Mullen from RTE Publishing, September 17, 2020 at 4:15 p.m.

    Good oints Dave Morgan, Nowadays companies are looking for candidates with years of experience - however no one is willing to give the step up. 
    The value of an internship is only as good at how well it is managed.

  3. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, September 17, 2020 at 9:32 p.m.

    Thanks Conor and totally agree. We need to create ways for entry level talent to come into our industry. We can't just wait until they aready have experience elsewhere. We will lose them.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 18, 2020 at 12:35 p.m.

    I take and appreciate your reading my comment and criticism as I believe your company would be fair and diverse just as some others do. But so many are far from what a Dave Morgan does. Now that I opened my big mouth and received your response, we know. Also, would you encourage companies to extend internships to people who are changing careers at any age ? Although you are probably doing that too, people listen to what you have to say, not me.

  5. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, September 18, 2020 at 1:25 p.m.

    Thanks Paula. Yes. Your cricisms are certainly appropriate for many internship programs out there. And yes, we do offer them for folks doing mid-career changes. We had one this summer. I think that those will be bigger and bigger parts of internship program, particulalry with the rise in bootcamps.

  6. Bill Duggan from ANA, September 22, 2020 at 6:21 a.m.

    Dave – kudos to you and your company on your internship program.  I’ve seen first hand how internships during college could be a pathway to full time employment upon graduation.  I have triplet daughters who graduated from college in 2019.  All three had various internships during the summers of their college years.  All three now have full time jobs resulting from those internships.  Molly is working with our local congressman; Haley is a 4th grade teacher; and Katie is a copy writer for an ad agency.  Internships are great foundations for a career and in some cases could be life-changing.  Congrats to Simulmedia for keeping your program alive this year.

  7. Hanna Gryncwajg from Hanna G, September 23, 2020 at 8:36 p.m.

    It is fantastic you continued this program...frankly paid or unpaid.  College students are better off with something to do vs. nothing to do over this crazy Covid19 summer.  My college student unfortunately couldn't find an internship (he's a biology major and need lab work).  I know how frustrated he was, just to not be learning.  Good for you guys for working within the new normal.  I'm sure they got a lot out of it.

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