It’s National Intern Day, and we’re celebrating our interns – both past and present!
It’s been eight years since we hosted Duolingo’s first interns at our headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA. The cohort in 2012 was small, with only a few interns on our Software Engineering and Design teams. As Duolingo has grown, so has our internship program – reaching 29 interns across five functions this year. From the beginning, our interns have done impactful work and have even grown with the company, like our first Design Intern who became our Chief Product Designer (more on that below!).
We value ideas over hierarchy, meaning that our interns spend the summer lending their perspectives and working on projects that directly impact our users. These projects have included revamping the “Achievements” feature in the app, launching a new payment option for Duolingo Plus subscribers, and working on Spanish audio lessons to help learners improve their listening comprehension. Another highlight is our annual company-wide hackathon, which our interns also participate in. Together with colleagues, they work in small teams, “hacking” anything from an interactive world map showing user activity in real-time (which is now featured in our office!) to internal tools that we use on a daily basis.
But don’t just take it from us! We’ve talked to four current and former interns to share how their Duolingo internship has helped shape their career.
Design Intern → Chief Product Designer
My internship was 8 years ago now. My role has definitely changed a lot since then, but it was still a big turning point in my life. My intern project was to work on the first version of Duolingo as an iPhone app, which was fortunate timing, because apps were just starting to be taken more seriously by companies around that time.
My main goal was to make the app fully featured, so you could sign up and learn an entire course without ever visiting the website. The app launched, and set a path for what I would work on for years to come. Working on the app gave me a chance to learn all of the ins and outs of Duolingo, both the product and the company. I had the privilege to work closely with Duolingo’s early employees, many of whom are still my friends after all these years.
Software Engineering Intern → Software Engineer
One of the great things about Duolingo internships is that the difference between interns and full-time positions isn’t too different. Interns might have fewer deadlines and a smaller scope, but all in all, the day-to-day is the same. Interns still participate in team discussions, get to know and work with other employees, and are truly a part of the family. Because of this, my internship provided me with the basis for what life as a Duolingo employee is like, and I was able to jump into my full-time role without much need for onboarding – even completing some smaller projects within my first week!
Software Engineering Intern → Software Engineer
I'm on a brand-new team, and funnily enough, the team's purpose is basically the same as that of my internship project—improve how we teach languages that use non-Latin scripts. So we're having a lot of similar conversations to ones I remember having last summer, but on a larger scale and with more resources available than for an internship with a 12-week scope. That makes a lot of things I did and learned during my internship extremely relevant to my work now. That – combined with getting to know the company people, culture, and norms – makes me feel like my time last summer was really good preparation for my transition into a full time role.
Current Associate Product Manager Intern
I’ve had the ability to make a huge impact on the Duolingo product in China, while also having the guidance and mentorship from my manager, mentor, and teammates. Everyone here is very friendly and supportive, and I’ve found it very easy to ask for help and advice whenever needed. I've really enjoyed collaborating with both the China team and other teams based in Pittsburgh to figure out ways to improve the Duolingo experience in an emerging market so close to home.
I’ve learned how to analyze data to draw insights, better communicate with stakeholders, and understand how to align short-term features to the long-term strategy. Most of all, I’ve learned that having good operating principles can make everyday decisions much simpler and result in long-term success.
At Duolingo, we pride ourselves on a fun and quirky culture, so it’s not all work all the time. We bring interns together through activities like cooking classes, game nights and coffee chat meetups in order to help them build life-long friendships. They also experience life as a full-time Duo with the opportunity to participate in company clubs, small group discovery breaks, and our annual “Duoversary” week where we celebrate the anniversary of our app launch. Through this experience, our goal is for interns to join us as full-time Duos after graduation.
Since 2012, we’ve seen the tremendous value interns bring to Duolingo, and we’re proud to celebrate them today – and beyond. Happy National Intern Day!
Interested in interning with us? Bookmark this page and check back in August for our upcoming internship opportunities.