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How We Ran a Successful Remote Internship Program in 2020


3 min read

And how we are planning to do it again in 2021…

On March 5, I sat in a small conference room with a few key contributors in creating and hiring for the Cloudflare summer intern program. With the possibility of office shutdowns looming, the group discussed what an internship would look like without in-person mentorship. How would the managers cope? How would the interns cope? Would it even be worthwhile? After a few minutes of discussions, we settled on ‘absolutely’. A remote summer internship at Cloudflare would be worthwhile for students, mentors, buddies, and managers alike. After all, Cloudflare is an Internet company and we were ready to trust the Internet with a whole lot more than we had anticipated.

The months leading up to the summer were a blur, all I remember is that we did a lot of planning, interviewing and hiring. And I mean, a lot. On April 2, Matthew Prince announced that Cloudflare would be doubling the size of our 2020 intern class in response to other companies cutting their intern programs all together. Due to these cuts, many talented students lost their opportunities for the summer. We knew we couldn’t hire them all so we created a list of peer organizations actively hiring and a three-month webinar program to give all applicants (whether they joined Cloudflare or not) mentorship from our executive team.

The program kicked off on May 18 with our first intern orientation group of the summer. Over the next month and a half, they were joined by six more orientation groups bringing the total intern class to 90 students. Being remote had its advantages, we were able to welcome students from all over the world and on nearly every team at Cloudflare — from Product Management to Engineering to Legal. We were proud to host a diverse class with nearly half of the students being from an underrepresented gender identity or racial ethnic minority.

A question I hear often is, “How do you replicate the benefits from an in-person experience to a remote one?”. The short answer is “You don’t”, but you adapt and stay positive and creative to help bring benefits that otherwise wouldn’t exist for the students. Throughout last summer, we held weekly Zoom lunches, created bi-weekly newsletters to share the various intern projects, and hosted hour-long executive “fireside chats” for the interns to directly meet our executive team. We had a buddy program and a mentor program; opportunities for each intern to be paired with a Cloudflare employee outside of their team as well as on their team respectively. We celebrated “Intern Week” at the end of July to facilitate students from different teams, regions, and continents in getting to know each other. To end the program, we hosted five “Intern Presentation Sessions” where each intern presented virtually about their projects and experiences to a company-wide audience.

To gauge the success of the program, we asked the students to anonymously submit how they felt about their teams, projects, and the intern events. In answering the question, “Did your internship experience meet your overall expectations?”, we received a 100% “Yes” response and 98% of the interns would consider working for Cloudflare again. See below for specific comments.

Many of our interns also detailed their virtual experiences on The Cloudflare Blog including Selina Cho, who reflected on personal and professional growth during her Product Management internship. Kevin Frazier, a Legal intern highlighted the sense of community and inclusiveness as “a common thread woven throughout the internship experience.” Ryan Jacobs outlined his journey in discovering the process, problem and solution of how Cloudflare uses Cloudflare Spectrum during his internship on the Spectrum team. We are always grateful and eager to read what our interns have to say about their time at Cloudflare.

What’s next? Summer 2021, of course!

As we look ahead, we are planning for an even bigger intern class filled with more engaging programs, nurturing events, and challenging projects. This year we are thrilled to nearly double (again) our intern class size and hire talented students for the exciting summer ahead. If you are interested in applying to one of our summer internship opportunities, check out our Careers page under the “University” section or reach out directly to us at [email protected]. Special thanks to Judy Cheong, our Head of University Programs, the Executive team, the Recruiting team, and all intern hiring managers and mentors for not only making the remote internship program possible, but a success!

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