Mailchimp, the privately-held marketing automation platform and email marketing service, has seen their internship program grow 400% over the past year under the guidance of Jasmine Haugabrook, the company's senior talent scout for University Relations.
Although Mailchimp had been working with interns since 2013, Haugabrook and the company realized in 2017 that they had the opportunity to integrate the program more directly with the rest of their talent strategy. Haugabrook also wanted to improve how the company strategically sourced talent by connecting with different organizations and colleges.
When Haugabrook started, she hired four interns for her first spring class. By summer 2019, she was responsible for hiring 39 interns across 20 different departments. HR Dive connected with Haugabrook to discuss the program and how that transformation came about.
How processes bring progress
"A lot of the teams were unaware of the process of how to request an intern to support their team or that they were even able to request an intern," Haugabrook told HR Dive in an email. "The state of the program, although great, had no formal process for recruiting."
To succeed, the internship process had to move from something fairly informal to something more intentional. When she first started, Haugabrook would send a simple email to all the directors in the company to inform them to request interns. Now, she teams up with Mailchimp's communications team to create creative campaigns that serve as a call to action for managers to request interns: "That small change in communication from directors to managers has really increased engagement."
She also made strides to ensure that the internship program was valuable, both for the interns and the teams they supported. As part of this, the company established an "internship commitment." This document is shared with hiring managers once they decide to host an intern on their teams to serve as both a list of expectations intern hosts and a reminder of Mailchimp's values, goals and objectives for the internship program.
What makes Mailchimp's program unique
Haugabrook stresses their program is focused on building a strong company culture and creating a place of true community. "With that, there's an internal focus on growth and ongoing learning, enabling new skill development and discovery," she said. "While some internships have interns handle grunt work and coffee runs, Mailchimp interns are truly integral to the everyday work at the office and are welcomed as a member of the Mailchimp family." The program is designed to be valuable for personal development, even beyond the interns' time at Mailchimp.
One unique aspect is Mailchimp's onboarding process. "All new hires go through a weeklong, ‘no work allowed' onboarding program to boost success across the company. On day one, interns are greeted with bags of Mailchimp swag and personalized notes from their hiring managers," Haugabrook said. Managers are involved right away in order to build relationships and reinforce a sense of community. The intern's desks are also decorated to welcome them to the team.
Mailchimp also created the "Culture Guides" program to offer new hires a supportive buddy during onboarding and throughout their time at Mailchimp. "They're usually paired with someone outside their immediate team from a different department so that they're able to make connections throughout the whole company," she said. Interns also get actual face time with the company co-founders, Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius, through coffee chats.
The successful internship pool has also become a great source to hire from for full-time junior talent, Haugabrook said. Mailchimp seeks to install a sense of community with their students; once they leave, they create a footprint at their universities that may bring other interns to the company later on. "That's why it's so important for Mailchimp to ensure diversity in the interns they recruit," Haugabrook said. "Mailchimp loves the variety of schools that are represented in its internship program."
Their goal is to recruit and learn from a diverse group of students. This includes meeting with students outside of recruiting events to listen to their experiences.
Last year, they hosted a "Meet Mailchimp" event in Brooklyn. "These events are great ways to introduce Mailchimp to the community, and to meet amazing folks," Haugabrook said. At this event, one of the recruiters met a student she thought was a great candidate. At the time, there was no internship opening, but Haugabrook wanted to chat with him anyway because the recruiter spoke so highly of their interaction together. She stayed in touch with him for a year, and he interviewed the next semester, coming close to getting the role. The following semester, the candidate interviewed again and got the internship. He's now on his second consecutive internship with Mailchimp.
"Stories like this show that 'No' is not 'Never' with Mailchimp," she said. "We take pride in building and continuing relationships with students even if the opportunity isn't there at that particular time."
Bringing interns into the fold
As part of the program, Mailchimp aims to directly involve interns in company life, Haugabrook said.
Interns are invited to join company sports teams and have their own Volunteer Day, for example. Interns also have the opportunity to teach at Night School, which is a monthly program where someone in the company displays one of their talents, hobbies or side jobs and teach a one-night class on it. "One of Mailchimp's interns this past summer taught a pizza dough tossing class," Haugabrook said. "Not only does he intern at Mailchimp, but he is a small business owner of a pizza restaurant."
Interns are very hands on with their teams as well, she said; they get to lead meetings, host workshops and even travel with their teams. "This past summer, Mailchimp's events marketing intern got the amazing opportunity to travel to Seattle with her team to a conference," she said. "The intern was working on a project that was going to be rolled out at this conference and her manager thought it would be a great opportunity for her to see what they were working on in action."
Keeping those connections
Through its University Relations team, Mailchimp recently kicked off its internship alumni program. "It's still really new, but the goal is to keep in touch with their alumni, and continue those relationships," writes Haugabrook. Most recently, they held a Summer of 2018 intern alum dinner. The group was made up of some people who are still currently interning, some that are now full time at Mailchimp and others that have moved on to other places. One of the former interns told Haugabrook that his current company was so impressed with the work he did at Mailchimp that they couldn't believe an intern got to work on such high-level work.
Haugabrook added that she's been told by most of the interns they've never experienced anything like this at other internships; "I believe this shows the value and level of importance Mailchimp places on all employees, even the interns."
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated how many interns were working for Mailchimp during Haugabrook's tenure.