April 20, 2021 by Cheryl Rodness

How To Build a Successful Internship Program and Grow Your Business


Did you know a number of wildly successful people started their careers as interns? That includes:

  • Microsoft CEO Bill Gates (Congressional intern in Washington, D.C.)
  • General Motors CEO Mary Barra (General Motors factory-floor intern)
  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (National Football League intern)
  • Director Steven Spielberg (Universal Studios intern)

Intern roles create valuable opportunities on both sides—for interns as well as the companies that employ them. The fact is, every company needs a talent pipeline strategy. For most companies, that includes a mix of hiring experienced workers as well as talent fresh out of school. Often, the young talent starts with creating summer internships for college students and using that pipeline for future hires.

When COVID-19 struck last year, many companies had to rethink how they hire interns and manage interns remotely.  In many cases, internships were cancelled as companies were unable to adapt to the new working landscape. In the summer of 2020, 30 percent of students saw their internships get cancelled, while 83 percent shifted to creating virtual internship programs. Some succeeded, while others were not as successful.

At Calix, we doubled the number of interns in our program from 2019 to 2020. In 2021 we are almost tripling our intern cohort. Recently we posted over 35 summer internship postings that we’ll fill to support almost every department across our rapidly growing organization.

Use Our Success To Build Your Own Talent Pipeline

We have learned a lot as we’ve built our programs and we’re eager to share our insights so you can build your own talent pipeline. Here are the high-value features of our internship program.

  • Executive Series: Interns meet our senior leaders and have an opportunity to ask them questions and learn how to develop their career(s).
  • Weekly “Lunch & Learn” Sessions: Interns receive regular instruction on other functions and capabilities across the organization.
  • Subscriptions: Audible and Blinkist subscriptions help interns continue to learn.
  • Mentorship: Interns can learn directly from our intern program leader.
  • Resume Support: Our HR team helps interns write great resumes.

A Great Internship Program Can Increase the Value of Your Business

Internships (and interns) are our future. They enable students to get real-world experience and help students earn money so they can build a foundation for success in life. We will continue to build our program and look forward to sharing insights.

Want to learn more? Watch the replay of our recent webinar, “Five Best Practices for Building a Successful Intern Program.” You can also contact me at cheryl.rodness@calix.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.