Learn, Reflect, Repeat: Internships at Viget

Aubrey Lear, Senior Employee Engagement Manager

Article Categories: #News & Culture, #Internships and Apprenticeships

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Each summer, we welcome a new cohort of budding designers, engineers, and strategists and each August our interns leave us with valuable lessons that shape the future of Viget.

Intern season is a wonderful time of the year at Viget. Each summer, for over 14 years, we’ve welcomed up-and-coming designers, engineers, and strategists to experience real-world agency life. In that time, we’ve had the pleasure to work with 83 talented students who've gone on to be early-career professionals and eventually fantastic leaders and collaborators in their chosen fields. Sometimes, they follow that trajectory at Viget; like Zach Robbins, our Vice President of Client Strategy who started his Viget career as a 2010 Product Manager Intern.

And sometimes, interns join other great companies or chart a totally different path. Some do all of the above. Like Peyton Chance, a 2018 Front-End Developer Intern, who joined Viget full-time as a Project Manager, and then in 2022 left Viget to join YNAB as a Product Manager.

The Viget Internship

In 14 years of Viget interns, a lot of things have changed both at Viget and within our industry, but our formula for a successful internship (and intern) isn’t one of them. How? Our internship is grounded in our values as an organization. Be real. Be good. Be brave. Learn and grow. Teach and share. Teamwork.

When interns join Viget, they join Viget. We don’t hold back, and we expect them to not hold back either. Anya Parekh — a 2023 intern — put it perfectly. Her goal: “be a sponge.” That goal goes both ways.

A few weeks ago, Anya and her cohort wrapped up their 10-week Viget internship. During their time here, they developed an impressive product that helps you touch grass, contributed to internal and client initiatives, and shared their expertise with us. We always learn just as much from our interns as they learn from us.

One intentional way we make sure this happens is through explicit feedback opportunities. In addition to weekly advisor check-ins, at the end of the experience our interns take part in an internship review, a process that mirrors our annual performance review process for full-timers. We solicit feedback from key collaborators, cohort peers, and full-timers who collaborated closely with interns throughout the summer. Interns fill out self-evaluations, a reflection exercise that helps interns put accomplishments and future goals into their own words. Both collaborator feedback and self evaluations help our program administrators, managing directors, and advisors craft a holistic final review document that the intern can use for future growth. We also ask both our interns and advisors to provide feedback on the program as a whole. These reviews are great capstones to close out the experience for our interns. Secondarily, they are tools to help us make sure we are honoring our commitments to our internship cohorts.

When our interns join Viget, we promise to provide an experience that includes: designing and building a digital product with a team, personalized guidance and one-on-one mentorship, and opportunities for connection. We are able to make and keep those promises based on our commitment to learning and growing, teaching and sharing, and through our culture of continuous feedback.

In the review, we ask interns to reflect on touchpoints, experiences, and opportunities we provide during the program. Here’s some of what our interns had to say this year:

  • “I really appreciated touchpoints with the full intern team, and I liked that touchpoints over the 10 weeks were often with different people. Seeing lots of different approaches to these touchpoints, and getting to connect to more people, was really cool!”
  • “I gained a lot of valuable skills from working on a multi-disciplinary team — a lot of my projects in school involve working only with [folks from my same major], but getting to work alongside a great team with a wide variety of skills and backgrounds was really amazing.”
  • “I really loved Viget’s emphasis on knowledge-sharing, from team meetings to Labshare presentations. When looking for places to work in the future, I’d definitely like to look for ones with similar emphases on teaching and learning…”
“The Viget Internship experience has not only provided me with valuable professional experience but also with genuine supportive relationships and long lasting connections.”

We also ask for our interns to evaluate their experience based on key success metrics like belonging. We asked interns to rate the statement “I felt welcome at Viget” on a 5 point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. I’m proud to say that all of our interns strongly agreed with that statement.

We encourage feedback on all aspects of the internship experience. Some interns provided feedback that additional orientation sessions would have been helpful to help them get a jump start on internal initiatives. Others mentioned that while they were glad the internship was based out of just one of our offices, they found it challenging at times to connect with remote employees. When planning for next year, we’ll take this constructive feedback into account.

We’ve learned through 23 years of working to build a better digital world that building quality products, websites, and internship experiences requires iteration. Every summer, we lean back into our values — specifically, learn and grow and teach and share to make sure we are crafting the best internship experience for our interns, advisors, and Viget as a whole.

Crafting an Internship Program

Crafting an internship for your organization? Keep these three factors in mind:

  • Don’t miss out on the opportunity to truly bring your interns into the fold (this goes for apprentices, junior folks, or anyone new to your team). We often hear from interns that while we provided them with ample opportunities, they were game for more — more shadowing opportunities; more exposure to a variety of tools, teams, and processes; and more feedback. Giving them a seat at the table is a simple way to teach and share, even if you think the seat isn’t that interesting. Let them soak it all in.

  • Belonging is more than just offering a seat or opening a door. Belonging is an outcome of psychological safety and trust. Invest in your interns as humans, connect them with your communities, and make sure they have ample opportunities to connect with each other.

  • Be open to learning and ask for feedback along the way. Use that feedback to grow the next iteration of your program.

Advice for Applicants

Thinking about applying next year? We asked our 2023 interns to leave some advice for future cohorts. Bookmark these nuggets of wisdom and keep an eye out for upcoming internship opportunities; https://www.viget.com/internships/.

  • “Try to explore opportunities outside your lab! Getting to know how different teams run in Viget can expand your knowledge about your own lab.”
  • “Don't be intimidated by the new things you will learn during this internship (whether it be a new coding language or public speaking), embrace it and ask as many questions as you have!”
  • “Be all in! I was nervous at first to do things like sit at the lunch table, attend group meetings like book club, or set up 1:1 meetings, but looking back, I am so glad I got over my fear and did those things anyway! My experience was as great as it was because I integrated myself into Viget's community and culture.”
  • “Don't overwork or overstretch yourself in your role (esp if product designer), be sure to clarify responsibilities at the start of the group project.”
  • “Don't be too ambitious with the group project if you want to have enough time and energy to focus on the personal project!”
“Be yourself, let your personality shine, and make the most of everything! People here love you and want to help you!”
Aubrey Lear

Aubrey is Viget’s Senior Employee Engagement Manager based in our Falls Church, VA, HQ. She is an organized advocate for color coordinated calendars and closets, but most importantly she is a believer in team spirit and creative thinking.

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