Last summer Rainforest was a 50-person company coming off the heels of raising Series A funding, and the team was overwhelmed. There was too much to do and too few people. As operations manager, I saw an opportunity to build an internship program that centered around creating a holistic learning experience for every participant, while providing much-needed help to our teams.
This summer, the second season of our internship program included of 10 full-time interns (8 undergraduate, 2 graduate) who worked in various departments across the company. Every intern has had a chance to tackle meaningful projects that make an impact on the business, from building customer relations and sourcing new revenue on the Customer Success and Sales teams, to writing tester training materials and customer-facing code for the Product and Dev teams. We’ve seen interns come in and source over $70,000 worth of revenue, design and ship new features, and have an overall positive impact on the quality of our product.
As I developed the program last year, I thought back to what I wish I would have gained exposure to as a college intern. In each of my college internships, I had wished that I had more exposure to all the others team I wasn’t working with, and how each person’s role made an impact at the company.
Often times, interns don’t feel comfortable approaching team members about their roles, asking questions about what they do or even asking for more opportunities to make an impact. Here at Rainforest, we curate that environment for them. I set out to build a program where we not only invested in helping the teams by hiring interns but also investing in each intern’s learning experience.
We take our intern experience very seriously and aim to give interns exposure to everything that goes on at our fast growing startup. 90% of our interns join Rainforest not really knowing what Quality Assurance is. By the time they leave, they have not only have hands-on experience with the specific jobs and functions they’re most interested in, but also a strong foundation of knowledge of how our business works.
The highlight of our internship experience is our Learning Discussion series. Learning Discussions are hour-long, twice-weekly session where team members give a talk or presentation on what they’re working on or a look into the day-to-day functions of their role at the company. Some of our most popular learning discussions include: “How to Code,” hosted by our CTO; “How to Start a Company,” hosted by our CEO; and “Myers-Briggs Personality Types” with our VP of People.
As intern program coordinator, I meet with every intern biweekly to check in on their projects, document with them things they’ve learned, help them set goals and give them tasks that aim to give them other learning opportunities outside of their team. We encourage each intern to build lasting relationships with the Rainforesters that they work with as we give every intern exposure to all the inner workings of our company and treat them all as equal team members with a voice in our product and culture.
Here at Rainforest, we look for talented students who show a lot of potential. However, we don’t limit ourselves to students with an already experienced resume or who come from Ivy League schools. We like to see students who are actively involved on campus with leadership experience that shows they can take on a lot of responsibility. For example, we look for candidates who have served as an Resident Advisor, have been a part of student government or who have served in a leadership role of a club.. By opening up our internship program to a broad range of backgrounds and interests, we can build a more diverse and engaging internship cohort each summer.
It’s extremely rewarding to see successful interns accept full-time offers and grow into some of Rainforest’s top performing employees. Many interns come into Rainforest having not knowing what career path they want to take but leave feeling confident in the areas they want to explore. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming an intern at Rainforest, check out our job listings to see available internships.