How Tableau reinvented our summer internship program

At Tableau, our intern program is woven into the fabric of our culture. Our interns are relentless changemakers, measurers, problem-solvers, and #carpedata practitioners who bring their ideas and skill sets to do real, valuable work for our employees, customers, and the Tableau Community. We are all inspired to work together and build products that help people harness the power of data.

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolved, Tableau—like many companies across the world—quickly embraced the new “normal” of remote working to prioritize the health and safety of our employees, families, and communities. Operating in a new world of work also meant transitioning our in-person summer internship program to a fully-virtual experience. There was no manual on how best to navigate this change, but all stakeholders agreed: we should lead with creativity—and restructuring—instead of canceling.

We don’t give up easily

We’re fortunate enough to have the key internal support and infrastructure to provide our Campus Recruiting team with the right resources to set up an impactful virtual intern program. “When we realized in March that a virtual program was a very real possibility, we reached out to Adam [Selipsky, our President and CEO] and the leadership team to make sure we had their support. Adam responded within five minutes, to let us know that he was 100% supportive,” says Jen Dynes, Senior Manager of Campus Recruiting at Tableau.

“We then asked hiring managers whether they felt they could provide a positive virtual experience for their intern. We gave them an out. But every single manager said that they wanted to proceed. This speaks volumes to our people at Tableau—not backing down when things get tough and going the extra mile to make sure our interns are not just getting by, but thriving.”

Cultivating a virtual experience

We’re definitely disappointed not to have our hard-working interns on-site at our Tableau offices this year. We are still grateful to be able to provide a pivotal remote experience to 128 interns from around the world.

To engage our 2020 Summer Interns, Campus Recruiting hosts many virtual events. These events range from Weekly Connects and virtual volunteering opportunities to an Executive Speaker Series where interns directly ask our senior leadership questions about their roles and achievements, with the press of a button. For example, our interns recently had the opportunity to engage with Adam Selipsky. The Campus Recruiting team has also connected interns to former Tableau interns who are now full-time employees. This year’s class can seek sage advice and support from relatable, knowledgeable Tabloids. Our recruiters continue to problem solve and launch creative solutions to ensure this summer’s intern class feels well-supported and included.

Letting our interns take the lead

Reinventing an innovative virtual intern program is certainly not feasible without inviting our interns to co-create their experience with us. This year’s Intern Council—a group of interns facilitating remote events and other engagement initiatives based on their cohort’s feedback—has planned trivia nights, virtual escape rooms, and other unique activities to foster community. Despite the challenges of working remotely, our interns remain so enthusiastic about helping each other grow and make a difference in new ways.

“Our interns stepped up to the plate—planning social events, connecting with their fellow interns both inside and outside of their teams, really helping each other out. This feels so Tableau. Even despite never having met in person before, they still feel connected. They have built their own Tableau community,” adds Jen.

Our interns’ flair for building meaningful relationships reminds us of how we can easily create fun, engaging virtual experiences with strong passion and our current resources. We thank them for their hard work, dedication, and positive attitude, and for helping to shape one of the most rewarding summer intern experiences we’ve ever had at Tableau.

We spoke with a few interns from various roles and departments across the enterprise about their virtual experiences and lessons learned.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve experienced working remotely?

Fronrich Puno, Solution Engineering Intern: My biggest challenge has been storytelling. As a Solution Engineer, many of my calls involve demoing Tableau in a way that highlights its business value. Despite a picture being worth a thousand words, sometimes all I need is one word that paints a thousand pictures.

To improve my storytelling ability, I learned from Zen Masters and took inspiration from Tableau Public. I’ve essentially learned how to keep haikus as haikus and epics and epics. Every type of story has its place, and there is no “one size fits all” story when it comes to data.

How do you feel supported?

Olivia Holton, Customer Solutions Product Intern: The most exciting thing about this internship program is how much of a community there really is here at Tableau. I feel so constantly supported and impressed by those around me. I have learned so much from the collaborations I have had across Tableau. I usually meet with people from across the Customer Solutions organization through virtual group check-ins, and then work independently on a project before going through edits with my mentor. I have learned valuable skills in the Sales Enablement process elements, but also life and career skills from the mentorship of my mentor and manager. Same as the office—just virtual.

As a returning intern, you have experienced traditional and remote internships with Tableau. What skill have you honed from the virtual working experience? Do you have any advice to provide college students who are working remotely?

Lanni Barrie, Tax Intern: While working remotely, you have to understand what it means to be present in your role. Knowing how to stay in touch with your team is very important—it is easy to “get lost in work.” Through this summer’s virtual experience, I learned how to communicate more effectively and efficiently, to combat slipping so deeply into the work and not engaging enough with my mentor and manager.

My advice is to be prepared for the unknown—anything is bound to happen. I was so stressed with technological struggles and miscommunications in the first couple of days, but IT and my team were always very supportive and helpful. Also, just because the internship isn’t in-person doesn’t mean you’re unable to make impactful relationships with your team and coworkers. Join subgroups, go to intern events, and engage in new conversation as much as you can.

Tableau offers internships throughout the company in Development, Operations, Marketing, and Sales. Learn about our collaborative intern program and see open roles here. If you don’t see any open roles that match what you’re looking for, check back regularly as we add new internships throughout the school year. And even if you’re not interested in interning at Tableau, you can still learn and love our product by downloading your FREE student license today.

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