Pin it to Win it: Our First Virtual Pinternship

When our University Recruitment team started planning for the 2020 Pinterns to arrive, our goal was to welcome them to Pinterest and provide them with a memorable experience. As the pandemic quickly changed everyone’s plans, this core goal remained the same and we adapted our strategy to accommodate the new working environment.

Alongside our engineering partners and leaders, we were faced with a tough and time-sensitive decision. Our Pinterns have always been a key talent group. Now that our mission of bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love is more important than ever, there was no doubt that we needed to continue investing in our Pinternship Program. The team quickly pivoted to prepare and launch our Engineering Pinternship Program virtually by leveraging our program’s strong foundation and creating the necessary pillars to make a successful remote program.

Pintern Orientation

Pivot and Launch

This summer, we welcomed our first fully virtual class of Pinterns encompassing Bachelor’s (41%), Master’s (28%) and PhD (31%) students and representing a diverse set of backgrounds from 35 different universities. Our Pinterns are jumping into remote onboarding sessions, making headway on their critical summer projects and learning how to take care of their Pinterest air plants. When pivoting to our remote program, these key pillars were vital to our launch:

Key Pillars

  • Leadership Support and Buy-in
  • Mentor-Manager Training Sessions and Focus Groups
  • Engineering Partnerships

When COVID-19 first hit, our leadership team had a tough decision to make: Do we pivot and begin the challenging task of launching our first fully remote internship program (within 5 weeks!) or is Summer 2020 cancelled? Thankfully, the value of our internship program and the undeniable impact that our Pinterns have made in the past led to immediate buy-in from our Engineering leaders. Once our University team got the approval, we rolled up our sleeves to launch our first-ever virtual Pinternship program!

Our Engineering partnerships have been key to the development of this remote program. We have a subset of Pinterest engineers that provide our team, mentors and managers additional technical expertise and feedback on resources and summer project expectations. Along with their feedback, our mentors also embody Pinterest’s value of Care with candor through weekly check-ins with their Pinterns. This provides them with the opportunity to have ongoing feedback and conversations leading up to more formal check-ins like their midpoint and final review cycles. The shift to a virtual working environment only reaffirmed the importance of a mentor’s support to our Pinterns’ growth.

Our mentors and managers have also exemplified Pinterest’s value of Be an owner by replacing those in-person connections with creative solutions. They created Pintern-specific Slack groups for additional team support and frequently use Google Hangouts to host virtual team events and coffee chats.

Virtual Events & Community Building

Pintern events are an essential part of highlighting Pinterest’s culture and bringing our mission to life. In this new environment, we leveraged the Pinterest platform and the newly created Today tab to inspire our virtual events, promote engagement and build community. We wanted the virtual events to embrace the spirit of one of our favorite in-person Pinterest traditions, KnitCon. We encouraged Pinterns to try something new through our remote events, from candle making to tie-dye kits all the way back to the classic Pinterest terrarium building.

Outside of their immediate teams, we wanted to provide Pinterns with the opportunity to meet their peers and Pinployees across the company. We launched a program through the Donut integration on Slack which randomly matches Pinterns in pairs weekly to get to know each other. To help foster relationships across the engineering org, we paired our Pinterns with recent graduates to provide additional mentorship and relatable insight to the transition from being a student to full-time engineer. Even though working remotely makes it difficult to have a perfect record of meetings with unreliable wifi, we still wanted to provide our Pinterns the opportunity to give it a try and make the connection.

Meet the 58 2020 virtual Pinterns here!

Looking Ahead

Our University Recruiting team is committed to partnering closely with our engineering teams and Pinterns to create the best summer experience possible despite the immense challenges we’re all facing at this time. While it’s uncertain when we’ll all be back in the office and raiding the snack bins, we remain anchored to Pinterest’s mission and values to guide our work as we bring our first virtual Pinternship program to life.

Our University Recruiting team

Pinterest’s University Recruiting team hosts several programs for undergraduates and new grads to launch new careers into hyper growth mode. Learn more here.

Pin it to Win it: Our First Virtual Pinternship was originally published in Pinterest Engineering Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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