In 2021, we launched our second virtual DuoIntern summer: 45 interns joined us from 22 universities, across four functions, and from 33 cities across the United States. Despite the remote landscape, we challenged ourselves to find creative ways to make the DuoIntern experience even more engaging, impactful, and authentic to the Duolingo community.

In this post, we'll share more about the 2021 DuoIntern experience!

Spring into your summer: pre-internship programs

Becoming a “Duo”(what we affectionately call all our employees, intern or full-time) starts well before Day 1. From the time our interns sign their offers, they become a part of the Duolingo community.

The University Recruiting team facilitated a variety of pre-internship programming for interns to get to know each other and their intern hosts (current Duos who are hand-matched with each intern as their individual mentor and manager). Events included speed-dating-style virtual icebreakers, virtual tie-dye t-shirt creation, monthly newsletters, a cohort Discord channel, and more!

Learners first: impactful intern projects

All DuoInterns, whether remote or based here in Pittsburgh, are assigned an intern host and project based on the skills that they are most interested in developing during their summer at Duolingo. Interns spend the summer working side-by-side with their intern hosts, integrated into their hosts’ teams, and working on projects that directly contribute to their team’s goals.

Some examples of past intern projects include introducing “Hard Mode,” creating internal tools to help us better understand our learners, and even bringing “Super Duo” to life.

At the end of the summer, all of our Duos join our Intern Project Showcases to not only marvel at the massive strides that our interns have made in improving our products and internal tools, but to also celebrate our interns' personal achievements.

“Switch”ing gears: buzz-worthy intern events

Since our interns were located throughout the country this year, we challenged ourselves to get creative in finding ways for interns to connect, and we had a lot of fun doing it.

In addition to informal virtual meetups (like coffee chats and lunch groups), our interns received a series of “interactive care packages" throughout the summer, containing swag and supplies to use for a variety of virtual events, including cooking classes, chocolate tastings, art therapy sessions, and more! We started these events during last year’s internship program, and they've grown to become part of our virtual company culture.

Interactive care packages allowed all Duos to have shared experiences in a virtual space, but we also wanted to engage our DuoIntern cohort in some friendly competition –– Mario Kart competitions, to be exact!

Interns were sent a “welcome box” with a variety of DuoIntern swag, as well as a Nintendo Switch Lite and a copy of Mario Kart. We hosted virtual tournaments so interns had the opportunity to bond in small groups.

National Intern Week

Each year, we celebrate our interns during National Intern Day, but this year we took our celebrations even further, expanding National Intern Day to National Intern Week! National Intern Week was a week-long intern extravaganza at our headquarters in Pittsburgh: we took an epic dinner cruise, created a community garden, and celebrated our IPO! Here's how 2021 Duolingo National Intern Week unfolded:

National Intern Week kicked off with a party at Duolingo HQ in Pittsburgh. Interns spent the evening hanging out with their intern hosts, Mario Kart racing and meeting their fellow interns in person for the first time. Interns then spent the next two days exploring Pittsburgh together: dining at some of Pittsburgh’s hottest restaurants, competing in a botanical garden scavenger hunt, and exploring Pittsburgh.

After a jam-packed weekend of Steel City fun, our interns settled in at HQ, where they spent the next week working with their teams and fellow interns. The fun continued after the work day with more opportunities for interns to connect and interact, including duckpin bowling, river cruising, karaoke singing, and even an IPO celebration!

Understanding that many of our interns might ultimately live in Pittsburgh as new graduates, we wanted them to have the opportunity to learn about the Pittsburgh community. We partnered with The Community Builders to rebuild a community garden for a low-income housing development in East Liberty, our neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Interns spent the day with neighborhood residents, planting and painting the garden that will ultimately be a part of our shared community for years to come.

Interns and community members working together on the community garden.

Our 2021 internship has come to an end, but for many of our interns, this summer was just the beginning of their career here at Duolingo. If you are interested in joining the fun, you can apply to be a 2022 DuoIntern at at!