Product updates are always an occasion to celebrate at Sprout Social, but we kicked off the summer with something particularly special: a release built by a new engineering intern on Team Sprout. Chad Franzen, a junior from the University of Illinois, had only been working for a week when his first release was announced on Slack (our internal communications channel) to the cheers of many.

From new message approval workflow to enhanced Instagram reporting, Team Sprout rolled out a whole host of updates this summer—many of which included contributions from our engineering interns. These rising juniors and seniors joined the team as part of Sprout’s college hiring program, an initiative launched last year to recruit current students and recent graduates to serve as summer interns or full-time employees.

Of course, Sprout is always looking for top talent. But summer internships provide a unique opportunity for students to gain real-world skills by working with professionals who care about their team members’ development. Likewise, internships create mentorship opportunities for Sprout employees, who help plan tasks, answer questions and manage workloads.

A 360 Experience: Immersion Inside the Office & Out

Sprout’s summer internships typically last 12 weeks and include hands-on projects as well as social events and networking opportunities. We aim to create meaningful experiences for each intern, which includes being paired with a mentor, seeing projects through from inception to launch and knowing that they were able to make a difference.

Outside of the office, interns and college hires take advantage of all that the city of Chicago offers. From a screening of “Willy Wonka” in Grant Park to a Chi Interns Unite panel on making the most of your internship experience, this summer’s weekly events presented endless opportunities for interns and recent grads to get to know each other as well as members of Team Sprout and the Chicago tech community.

Mentorship: The Code We Live By

With mentorship in mind, as we interview candidates, we consider which of our engineers might make a good match to serve as guides throughout the internship program. While interns are integrated into a product-feature squad, mentors act as their main points of contact for questions and advice.

Platform Manager Aaron Zimmerman served as a mentor this summer, helping Kira Ghandhi, a rising senior at the University of Chicago, through the program. On working with Kira, here’s what Aaron had to say:

Meet the All-Star Interns

Like Aaron, we’re fiercely proud of this year’s interns and excited to share some of their accomplishments with you. Read on to hear what they have to say about their summer experiences, and stay tuned for updates as several interns continue to work with us part time. If you’re interested in applying for an internship at Sprout, check out our careers page.

Chad Franzen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

What are some of the projects you worked on at Sprout?

I mainly worked on Facebook Business Page tagging and the new message approval workflow. Helping add Facebook tagging to Sprout was a great way to jump into development with the team, and it was exciting to help guide big new features like message approval.

What’s one thing you learned from your mentor?

My mentor, Ryan, was a huge help throughout my internship. I learned a ton about modern web development from him—almost as much as I learned about Final Fantasy.

Kira Ghandhi, University of Chicago

What was one of the coolest projects you worked on this summer?

I was on the reporting squad, so I worked on a lot of Sprout’s upcoming reports, including the new Instagram Profiles Report. I specifically worked on the Top Followers Engaged section: I wrote a poller to find the follower counts of all of the Instagram users who comment on Sprout Instagram profiles, then sorted them by their follower count and displayed the top influencers per day.

How will your experience at Sprout help you in your career?

At school, we only learn how to be computer scientists; we only learn the theory behind what it is to be a software developer. Sprout Social gave me the practical knowledge I need to be a good engineer in industry. I also had the opportunity to work on a much larger portion of Sprout’s code base than I would have been able to do at a larger company, so I’m familiar with a wider variety of jobs than most college seniors.

Austin Gundry, Northwestern University

How would you sum up your experience at Sprout?

Every day I got to come solve cool problems with even cooler people, and for some reason, there was a lot of Katy Perry music along the way. It’s hard not to fall in love with the company, with the enviable culture, creative work and all the Peanut Butter M&Ms that a college student could ever need.

How are you feeling about your path after college?

Heading into my senior year, I find it incredibly satisfying to know that I can do the work I love and have fun along the way. It makes the idea of moving into my career much less intimidating.

Chris Shroba, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

What project did you most enjoy working on?

The coolest thing I worked on over the summer was the backend for Custom VIP and Influencer Indicators in the application. I was responsible for not only coding the entire back end of that new feature but also planning its design and talking with other members of the team about decisions and trade-offs.

How would you describe Sprout’s culture to potential future interns?

The thing I loved most about the culture at Sprout was that it is so tight knit. Everyone has friends here, and nobody bats an eye at staying until 10 p.m. or later for company events (aka happy hours) or going on awesome canoeing trips! It’s really a welcoming place to work, and it’s super easy to talk to anyone here. To any college students considering joining the team, I’d say Sprout’s perfect because there is so much to do here. You’re surrounded by experts who can help you with anything you need, and you are working on a product that’s creating real value for real people and companies.

Sometimes, after a strenuous day of volunteering, we stay late. #teamsprout

A photo posted by Sprout Social (@sproutsocial) on

Ready to Grow?

We’re looking forward to having more talented, hardworking current students and recent grads join our team next year. This fall, our recruiters will be attending career and internship fairs throughout Chicago and beyond: Check out our events page to see if we’ll be at your school. If you’re interested in joining Team Sprout, either for the summer or full time, see the engineering internships and positions on our careers page.