Navan’s Compass Program provides summer internships to university students each year, giving them the opportunity to learn new skills and build their networks and fueling our company mission to help develop the next generation of leaders. Navan pairs each intern with a mentor and a manager who guide the students through daily tasks and organize social and team-building events for them.
Compass is the creation of Navan’s Head of University Relations Jennifer Schwab — a passionate recruiter who believes deeply in the potential of internship programs to grow companies and careers.
Jennifer built her career in university recruiting for tech companies. She wasn’t looking for a change when the Navan People team contacted her about creating a new program from scratch. But Jennifer was excited about the opportunity within a high-growth company and was especially excited about Navan, as she had used the solution to book travel in a previous role.
“I knew it was an incredible product because I used it to travel. Navan was a game-changer,” said Jennifer.
An Initiative with Many Benefits
All sales interns who participated in the first Compass cohort in 2022 accepted full-time roles at Navan, which speaks to the time and energy team members spent mentoring, growing, and getting to know the interns. The sales internship program is intentionally not commission-based because the goal is for interns to learn and grow, which is more difficult when their paycheck is tied to a quota.
“The internship program’s name is Compass because we’re trying to help interns find their North Star,” said Jennifer. “Many students don’t know what they want to do, and this is a great way to try before they buy … on both ends.”
The internship program also helps promote diversity among the team. Navan leadership understands that cultivating diversity and celebrating individuality empowers employees and brings in new ideas and concepts that help the company continue to challenge the status quo.
“I like to create a culture of mentorship and continue to grow people’s careers internally. Employees who join early become invested, and the retention rate is much higher. An internship program is necessary at this company stage,” she said.
What It Takes to Build a Successful Internship Program
Jennifer has a dynamic role that requires her to champion the power of the internship program internally while being the face of Navan on college campuses nationwide. She spends time traveling throughout the year to build relationships with universities located near Navan offices.
Jennifer also manages the summer program and curates engaging events for interns and team members to meet, including a Lunch and Learn series where leaders like Navan Expense General Manager Michael Sindicich come to speak and answer questions. She also hosts an open office hour every Friday, where interns have a place to bring concerns, questions, and ideas. Jennifer partners with leaders in other departments to put on events as well. For example, Manager of Global Talent Brand Karlie Souris hosts a “personal branding day” that guides interns in polishing their resumes and presence across LinkedIn and social media channels. It helps set up interns for success regardless of the path they take after the program is completed.
For the first time, the 2023 cohort will include interns across departments, including sales, engineering, marketing, product design, product management, HR, and finance. If you’re a student interested in applying for the program, Navan has already selected interns for this summer — but it’s never too early to start planning for next year!
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