At Duolingo, we pride ourselves on hiring individuals who are passionate about our mission and want to use their expertise to change the world for the better. And we look for the same qualities in our interns! Every summer, we welcome a new class of interns and we’re always impressed with the work they do and the real impact they have on life and work at Duolingo. To help give you a peek into the life of a Duolingo Intern, we’ve gone straight to the source! Meet Rebecca, an MBA intern focused on product management and based in Pittsburgh. Read on to learn more about her summer internship with Duolingo!
What project are you working on this summer, and how did you land on that project?
I’m working on a new writing exercise that accompanies advanced Stories in Spanish and French courses from English. At Duolingo, we aim to teach competency in four foundational language skills: speaking, writing, reading, and listening. The Stories writing exercise is currently the only opportunity for a learner to freely generate long responses to a prompt, which is a great way to practice their writing skills. I’ve been an avid learner on Duolingo since 2013, so I was excited to specifically focus on ways Duolingo can help learners practice speaking and writing!
I landed on this project through a team match system, where I was given a list of product teams with available internships and ranked them in order of preference. I’m particularly interested in using data and AI-based technologies such as natural language processing to improve learning, so it was a no-brainer to join the Learning Research & Development team.
How does product management work at Duolingo?
Every company has its own way of doing product management. To me, several things stood out as unique to Duolingo’s culture:
- We do lots of A/B testing: We are encouraged to form and test hypotheses for any product feature we want to build, from copy changes to building new sections of the app. This culture of experimentation not only makes it easier to collaborate (everyone has access to past experiment data) but also pushes PMs to use data to drive product decisions.
- We prioritize learning impact: Duolingo famously doesn’t paywall its learning content, as its mission is to make education accessible to everyone in the world. The leadership team takes learner impact very seriously, with an entire Learning & Curriculum team that heavily influences product decisions.
- We focus on fun: We often study mobile games and dating apps as best-in-class mobile experiences. Although we are a learning app, we try to make our UI simple, intuitive, and fun!
What is mentorship like for Duolingo MBA interns?
I’ve been really impressed by the programming for MBA interns. Duolingo pairs you with a buddy and a project host (I’ve met 1:1 with my host almost every day). In addition, PMs get access to product-specific workshops (on UXR, design, engineering, QA, etc.) as well as career development roundtables with senior leadership. As an intern, I was warmly welcomed into all company events, including Duoversary, our 10-year anniversary celebration, as well as our product team offsite. Duolingo even planned a whole week of programming dedicated to interns during National Intern Week!
What has surprised you most about Duolingo’s culture?
Almost every tech company talks about how flat and collaborative their culture is, but it’s really true at Duolingo. Case in point: in the first month of my internship, I sat right next to the CEO and CTO, whose desks are on the open floor plan just like everyone else. I’ve been surprised by just how easy it is to grab time with anyone in the company, including senior leadership.
The collaborative energy permeates the culture at Duolingo, most recently during our 3-day annual hackathon, where all employees cancel internal meetings and hack on crazy new ideas. For the hackathon this year, my team worked on a karaoke challenge, where users could sing along to songs and complete fun speaking exercises within the app, and we even built a demo!
What is your favorite Duolingo feature or product?
I’m (not) biased, but Duolingo Stories are such a fun and engaging way to apply new vocabulary and grammar skills to real-world conversations. These bite-sized short stories are witty and often have a plot twist at the end!
A close second would be Match Madness (a timed challenge for matching vocabulary pairs), because I’m definitely not overly competitive :)
Have you ever been featured in the Duolingo TikTok?
YES! I was Lily in this video.
If you are interested in an internship with Duolingo you can apply to be a DuoIntern at university.duolingo.com!