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Author's profile photo Anna Thompson

The Power of Interns

Harness the potential of Interns to transform the way you work.

What are Interns to you? Are they the designated coffee courier?

Experiences with Interns can be a mixed bag. Some Interns require extra care and attention, while others knock expectations out of the park.

This is that story.

The year is 2019. A scrappy, start-up of a program, called the Digital Heroes Initiative is looking to solve tool chaos in SAP’s digital jungle. Through active community engagement and a gamified learning approach, the Digital Heroes completed Missions to enhance their skills, learn new tools and share their knowledge and expertise.

However, as the program grew the admin team was facing their own villains. Scary Excel spreadsheets, ghastly Jam page updates and terrifying manual processes were plaguing them. Perhaps the goal of world domination was too ambitious?

Through a partnership with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Karlsruhe HsKA, the first Australian Interns entered SAP. They were given the task to wrangle the manual processes, but how? Heads brimming with ideas, the Interns began creating a bespoke Digital Heroes platform. They interviewed Digital Heroes and other stakeholders to gather input on functionality to create high-resolution mock-ups. With plan in hand, they began programming a highly engaging and interactive platform from scratch.

Ruth Pavilonis, Community Manager for the Digital Heroes Initiative:

“Running the Digital Heroes was an incredibly manual process. Especially as we were trying to figure out the core elements of our program such as rewards, Missions and meet-ups. Long term, this was not sustainable. When Alex, James and Jayesh arrived they understood the manual complexities and saw the vision of what the Digital Heroes could be. They ran with the idea, and quickly built a robust system from scratch.”

After only 8 months of development, they deployed the Digital Heroes platform (AKA Octopus) and exceeded all expectations.  Digital Heroes receive points and badges for completing a Mission instantaneously, create their own Missions in the Mission Garage, and much more!

The ease and interactivity of the platform caught the eye of Tina Trumbo and Michelle Charles, leaders of Diversity & Inclusion in Customer Success. With the help of the second and third invasion of Australia-based Interns, a stand-alone instance of the platform is in the works to support the Inclusive Leadership Challenge. The platform will support launching micro learnings for leaders to learn new inclusive behaviors and then immediately use those behaviors. In Q4, they plan to pilot the Inclusive Leadership Challenge.

Octopus has caught the eye of many other organisations within SAP and follow-up conversations are in the works.

With such a large impact, the platform will be submitted for the 2020 Hasso Plattner award.

World domination is in reach again. This is the power of Interns.

Alexander Wilson, Lead Front-end Octopus Developer and Intern:

“Working in the SAP Experience Garage team has been an incredible experience that has helped kick start my career. I was given a good balance of guidance and freedom. I could decide where to focus my work efforts and was given opportunities to work a variety of projects. Building a Learning Gamification Platform from the ground up gave us the experience of going through the entire Software Development Life Cycle in a real-world situation.”



Click here to meet the Interns!


Why Interns?

For the SAP Experience Garage and Digital Heroes, both Interns and Managers could realise the potential of Interns. Here are some key aspects which made the partnership so valuable.

  • Fresh perspective

Interns have a unique outside-in perspective. They are not customers or experienced employees. They provide fresh eyes on business processes, strategies and plans. With new tricks up their sleeves, Interns can see inefficiencies where others do not. Simply, Interns are disruptive by nature.

  • Extra Set of Hands

Do you often have to put projects on the back burner? Interns can reduce work-burden and turn ideas into reality. Typically, projects which help Interns learn, apply new skills and manage responsibilities are most successful as Interns are eager to achieve.

  • Discover Quality Talent

The process of finding quality talent can be time-consuming, confusing and the person you interview may be completely different to the employee version. An Internship is an opportunity not only for the Intern to find a meaningful career but for the employer to discover talent. Observe how Interns cope with the team environment and various responsibilities before bringing them on full time.

Niraj Singh, SAP Experience Garage Lead:

“Working with Interns is constantly inspiring and energising. They keep me on my toes and ask insightful, intelligent and challenging questions. Removing the fear of failure, giving them free reign to see where they go is what I enjoy most about working with Interns.”


Interns at SAP

Are you in search of an Intern? Fortunately, at SAP there are many amazing Internship, Vocational Training and graduate programs available.

The SAP Internship Experience Program is one such amazing program which mentors, challenges and supports Interns through a variety of activities.


Still don’t believe me about the power of interns? Just ask Christian Klein how his Internship went.

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