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Remote Internships: One-time Necessity or the Next Big Thing?

Blog 0520 08

For some university students, the impact of COVID-19 closures has gone from disappointing to devastating, as social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders cancel everything from sports seasons and graduation ceremonies to summer internship programs and future hiring plans. This can be an especially hard blow for students, as internships are often a stepping stone for full-time work, an important source of summer income, or for some, even a graduation requirement.

While some companies have been forced to make a last-minute pivot to remote internships, CrowdStrike is fortunate that a remote-first culture is part of our DNA — so extending that to internships didn’t require anything radically new. We simply extended our daily way of working to the intern class of 2020.

The Advantage of a Remote-first Culture 

At CrowdStrike, we are grateful to be counted among those companies that can continue to safely host a 2020 summer intern class. Our remote-first culture, which is built on the premise of asynchronous work capabilities for all employees, allowed us to quickly and seamlessly shift these 85 global positions from in-office to at-home. Our interns will rely on the same best-in-class tools, technologies and processes that our full-time workforce uses to stay connected and engaged, no matter where they happen to be. Our managers, many of whom lead teams of people based all over the world, will use the same techniques and systems to oversee the work of our interns and ensure their development. 

While the way the interns engage with and learn from our teams might be shifting, we’ll still be able to offer a variety of valuable learning opportunities and experiences for this year’s intern cohort.

Thinking About the Future

For our organization, pivoting to a remote-based internship program is the best choice for today. But what about tomorrow? With recovery timelines still very much in flux, our organization and many others are reconsidering how we will structure our program next year — and what a contingency plan looks like if such an event unfolds again. This situation has also made us reconsider the financial implications of traditional, campus-based positions of our interns in terms of housing, travel and living costs. It makes us question if the current structure may inadvertently limit our application pool and also consider how we could best address this point in the future. The goal is to design and run an inclusive, accessible program that offers the same learning opportunities and business outcomes, while finding ways to keep the group connected and ensure a sense of belonging — especially as opportunities for physical contact continue to be limited.

Our Experiment: Measuring the Success of a Remote Program for Students and Employers 

As we look to the future of our internship program, we want to take the lessons learned this summer and expand on them to continue to improve our internship offering. We plan to take this necessary change in plans as an opportunity to learn, measuring how this summer’s intern class and managers fare in terms of satisfaction, engagement and outcomes as compared to traditional in-office positions. We will also track the cost of the remote program and consider if this new model provides efficiencies and savings that will allow us to invest even more in our interns and the program. Finally, we will determine how remote positions could help our organization widen the applicant pool, given that participants would not need to secure housing or incur travel costs to work in an office.

Time will tell how this approach compares to years past and how it will impact the structure of our internship program in the years to come. In the meantime: What do you think about remote-first internship programs? Are they a one-time necessity, or a valuable new way to attract top talent? 

Additional Resources

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