At Duolingo, we understand firsthand the impact that access to education has on the trajectory of learners’ lives. As we’ve grown as a company, our interns have grown with us; many of our current “Duos”, including our Chief Product Designer, started off as interns! To level up our internship program, we challenged ourselves to harness the passion at the heart of our mission to do more to support underrepresented students within computer science.

Thus, the Duolingo Thrive Program was born! In this post, we'll talk about how we developed this early access internship program and worked to make it effective, personalized, and, most importantly, fun!

Illustration of Duo, the Duolingo owl, dressed for his first day as a Thrive intern: he's wearing a green basbeball cap, a black backpack, square-rimmed glasses, and a nametag. He looks excited!

What is the Duolingo Thrive Program?

The Duolingo Thrive Program is an immersive 10-week summer internship program that provides second-year students from communities underrepresented in tech the opportunity to develop their technical skills and experience what it’s like to work at Duolingo.

A “Thrive” class is made up of rising juniors majoring in computer science. Each Thrive Intern gets to conquer new challenges and help us develop better language education for learners around the world.

In addition to the extraordinary DuoIntern experience, there are three core elements that make the Duolingo Thrive Program unique.

Hootcamp: your technical and professional cohort

First is Hootcamp! Hootcamp is a series of interactive courses led by Duos from across the company. Each course is designed to introduce Thrive Interns to the basics of software engineering at Duolingo and prepare interns for navigating their future careers. Some examples of Hootcamp courses include:

  • Systems Architecture
  • Web Frontend
  • Metrics and Testing
  • Financial Planning
  • Networking 101
  • ...and 15+ more!

Unique group projects with Duolingo software engineers

Our second core element is the projects the Thrive Interns develop. Hootcamp gives our Thrive Interns the tools and skills to collaborate with each other in building out their uniquely impactful group projects. Our interns are divided into two groups of four and led by a Duolingo Software Engineer called a “Thrive Advisor.” Each group is fully integrated into one of our product teams, and work on different projects, like:

  1. GoodStories: a personalized Duolingo Stories search feature, integrated into our Stories product team.
  2. DuoHoot: player vs. player lesson types, integrated into our Connections product team.

In their final week, our Thrive Interns present their projects to the company during a project showcase.

Mentorship to last beyond 8 weeks

In addition to the support that they receive from their Thrive Advisors, Thrive Interns are matched with a mentor called a Thrive Buddy. Buddies are early-career Duolingo software engineers who help Thrive Interns navigate their transition into professional life, tackling topics like:

  • Professional networking at Duolingo and beyond
  • Time management
  • Collaboration and communication
  • Interns’ individual professional journeys

The impact of the Duolingo Thrive Program is designed to last far beyond our interns’ 10 weeks at Duolingo. Our Thrive Buddies build meaningful relationships with their interns and are committed to mentoring them through their return to school in the fall and as they transition into professional life.

If you are interested in joining us as a 2024 Thrive Intern, be on the lookout for applications opening in August 2023 at