Avanade’s move to virtual internships pays off
- Posted on July 1, 2020
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
When Tanya Bhimani, a student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, learned that her summer internship at Avanade would be a virtual one, she was relieved.
“The first thought that came to my mind was that I’m so thankful my internship isn’t canceled,” she said. “While surfing LinkedIn, I’d constantly see my friends posting that their internships got canceled due to COVID, and I was worried I’d be hearing the same.”
As COVID-19 spread across the world this spring, Avanade immediately began planning how to best continue working remotely with its clients worldwide. At the same time, Avanade recruiting and human resources teams in the U.S. brainstormed how to move summer internship programs online. So began a change of direction that culminated earlier this month with the “arrival” June 1 of Avanade’s first class of 2020 summer interns, 33 students from around the U.S. An additional 17 will begin internships later this month.
“In researching it, we decided to go 100% virtual,” said Corrine Long, a member of the Avanade Talent Acquisition team. “We wanted to make sure we could commit to providing our interns the same high level of experience learning they would expect from an in-person internship.”
These aren’t busy-work situations. Each intern is assigned to a project team in their area of interest that is working on a client or organizational project. “About 60% of our interns work in software engineering, others in infrastructure, analytics and business analysis,” Corrine said.
As a Microsoft-first company, everyone at Avanade is well-equipped with Microsoft’s online collaboration tools, including Teams and SharePoint. Being able to offer interns such a robust platform ensured that they would be able to work seamlessly with team members across the company.
“With all the technology that is available to us, I am not worried that I will still have the amazing internship experience I dreamed of,” said Alexis Palfreyman, a senior studying web design and development at Brigham Young University-Idaho, now assigned to Avanade’s Experience Design Studio. “Even though we are unable to go to the office, I feel like I have been able to still meet so many people via Microsoft Teams that sometimes I wonder if I get to meet more people via Teams than I would have met in person.”
Corrine and her recruitment colleagues have added a few components to the program to actually take advantage of the virtual design.
“We’ve added a Tech Talk Tuesday series, where we all get together and talk about a different subject,” she said. Planners pull from the company’s deep stable of experts to present on a range of subjects, everything from technology topics such as Azure and online security to Avanade’s commitment to inclusion and diversity and its Technology for Social Good program. Also new this year: Each week, interns receive a swag package tied to the theme of the week.
To replace the facetime with executives that interns typically receive, the group participates once a week in an online leadership town hall, during which they meet with company leaders, discuss bigger picture topics and get their questions answered.
“We’ve thought a lot about how we can help our participants create real connections,” Corrine said. “Part of it is that we replicate a daily project rhythm as much as possible. Interns participate in their team’s daily video standups, part of our scrum mentality. They get exposure to their project leads. And we have created a new buddy program. Each intern is paired with someone at about the senior analyst level, ideally someone who is also working on their project. We ask buddies to commit to two video check-in calls a week.”
Two weeks into the first program of the summer, interns are enthusiastic about their experiences so far.
“Even working remotely, I feel very supported by my team and meetings have gone smoothly so far,” said Chaerin Lee, who is in a master’s degree program at the University of Colorado-Boulder and this summer is working with Avanade’s IT Operations team. “I can say with confidence that my first week at Avanade has been successful and I am looking forward to the rest of my summer here.”
Her online colleagues agree.
“Despite working from home, we still have regular meetings, so I'm still able to get to know my coworkers pretty well,” said Rory O'Connor, a computer science student at the University of Alabama, now working with a software engineering team. “I am also really happy with the team I was placed on. Without giving too much away, we're currently trying to tackle a really interesting problem, and I can't wait to see how the project progresses over the course of the summer.”
“My experience has been amazing,” Alexis added. “I can tell that Avanade truly cares for its interns and employees. I know a lot of people have been involved in the organizing and planning behind this virtual internship, and I see it each and every day when I work from my office at home. I can feel the support from every person I have spoken to during this week or so, and I’m thankful to be surrounded by such genuine people.”
Look out for more posts coming about Avanade internships around the world in the age of COVID-19.