To improvize the intern experience, Samsung, in 2017 launched a program called IGNITE, short for Inspiring Growth & Nurturing Interns Towards Excellence. The intent behind the program was to maximize Samsung's presence across B-school campuses pan India while strengthening the hiring pipeline and opportunities.
This year the company got 36 interns from various B-schools on-board to work across various businesses and teams. As the COVID-19 outbreak in the country led to a subsequent lockdown, the challenge now in front of the HR and leadership team at Samsung was to ensure that learning continues and intern’s experience doesn’t get compromised.
“Work From Home was a new opportunity and onboarding interns and replicating a seamless experience for interns was certainly a challenge,” said Sameer Wadhawan, Head, Human Resources, Samsung India.
Digitizing the internship program
“At Samsung, the health of our employees, partners, vendors, and colleagues is of utmost importance. The human resources team was quick to analyze the current situation and arrived at the decision to focus on remote working and social distancing much earlier,” shared Wadhawan.
The program was initiated in early April and a steady stream of communication has been maintained with interns ever since to ensure there are no ambiguities or concerns.
The HR and IT teams shouldered this task and worked round-the-clock to provide corporate coordinates and software solutions. The HR team took care of the documentation and other mandatory steps while the IT and information security team-maintained data sanctity and platform support.
With technological agility, Samsung utilized its existing platforms to expand the capabilities and encouraged interns to work from their base locations. The project and team details were shared prior to the commencement of the program with the students to align their expectations. “Our IT teams pulled all stops to make this a successful venture with regular assistance. To make this onboarding seamless and smooth, each intern was assigned a dedicated buddy to handhold them in their journey along with their guides and mentors,” shared Wadhawan.
Making interns experience the company culture virtually
“The initial challenges were primarily around the introduction of the Work From Home concept to interns and providing them with an opportunity to experience Samsung culture, which we overcame with our platform,” said Wadhawan.
The main motive was to make certain that the communication channel between the students and their project mentors is not compromised due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. Therefore, to assist them, each intern was assigned an e-buddy/mentor. Proactive engagement was undertaken with all the business managers to set the expectation on the project workings along with the interaction frequency.
For the orientation, detailed presentations about Samsung as an organization, business workings and response to the current scenario were made to induct the interns into the Samsung system. These measures were undertaken to ensure a seamless and insightful experience for all the interns. All the business leaders blocked their calendars and connected with the interns through video conferences to put them at ease.
Digital-readiness is what helped Samsung sail through this crisis seamlessly and the learning for the interns didn’t stop even amid lockdown.
“As our managers were already effectively managing their teams virtually, everything else was well aligned,” said Wadhawan.
The current situation has made the HR and business leaders realize the importance of a blended approach. The solution and way forward cannot be just one-directional and will have to be a successful combination of the two - virtual or otherwise.
Wadhawan shared that as next steps they have already started planning the mid-reviews for the interns to track their project growth.
For the future he shared how the digital internship experience has helped Samsung evolve and find efficiencies. With learnings from this experience, the leadership will assess how they maximize the offers for the final hiring through this mechanism.
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