Virtual Onboarding Program Sets Protiviti’s Interns on Course for Success

July 11, 2022 | By Kevin Gray

A young professional onboards with her new team remotely on a laptop.

TAGS: best practices, co ops, Internships, nace insights, onboarding, talent acquisition, technology,

Protiviti has long felt that setting up its interns for success from the moment they first power on their laptop during the summer session is integral. When Protiviti switched to a virtual onboarding model for its interns in 2020, it realized there was more that could be accomplished in the virtual setting with intentional planning.   

“One of Protiviti’s four values is ‘Commitment to Success,’” explains Casey Jo Chapman, Protiviti North America graduate recruiting leader.

“We want to show the interns that we as an organization are committed to their success. We watched and observed our interns in 2020 to assist in the development of the program for 2021. We wanted to provide our interns with meaningful connections and relationships that perhaps happen more organically during an in-person experience.”

For example, Chapman says, when in-person, an intern would have the opportunity to introduce themselves to their neighbor, talk to a leader in the breakroom between learning modules, and more.

Protiviti’s graduate recruiting and learning and development teams are the winner of the 2022 NACE Award for Recruiting Excellence-Large Employer for its “Liftoff with Protiviti” virtual intern onboarding program. For more information about the NACE Awards program and the full list of award winners/honorable mentions, see

“The design of ‘Liftoff with Protiviti’ capitalized on the individuals’ experience, while also ensuring meaningful relationships could be born,” she says.

In 2020, Protiviti had firmly embraced a “one office” strategy where, Chapman says, the “barriers of trains, planes, or automobiles no longer were a necessity in our business model.”

“We leaned into technology to have live-virtual networking sessions set up and had key Protiviti leaders from across our network of U.S. offices ready to connect through presentation topics,” she continues.

“We have a variety of phenomenal speakers at Protiviti, but with the design of Liftoff with Protiviti, we had the main leader for each of the firm’s initiatives present on their own cornerstone of our firm’s success.”

The graduate recruiting and learning and development teams, which were designing and implementing Liftoff with Protiviti, also challenged themselves to think about onboarding as a multi-day experience.

“The reason we felt passionate about strategizing intern orientation to Liftoff with Protiviti is because our interns are beginning their careers and we hope they learn each day of the summer they are with us,” Chapman says.

“We had an opportunity to train the interns on the tools, team, and landscape they need to be successful future leaders with our firm.”

Liftoff with Protiviti is delivered in a live-virtual setting with gamification pieces built in throughout, so the graduate recruiting and learning and development teams had to plan the schedule to reach across time zones instead of having everyone in a central location.  

“We also had to train and equip our teams to problem-solve differently,” Chapman notes.

“By having ownership of the Liftoff with Protiviti experience across departments, we had a variety of hybrid task forces driven toward the success of a virtual onboarding experience.”

The Liftoff with Protiviti 2021 onboarding program lasted two days, known as Day 0 and Day 1.

Day 0:
Interns learned about the importance of the internship’s team, tools, and landscape in the following ways:  

  • Team—Team content drove the importance of building connections within the intern class and across the firm.
  • Tools—Interns participated in an online, interactive game called ProTech Tournament to learn more about Protiviti’s knowledge management, collaboration, and tools.
  • Landscape— Interns were given the specifics about the internship program.

In addition, interns were given access to the Liftoff with Protiviti platform. The platform, designed to mirror a consultant’s schedule, provided transparency and a centralized location for interns to gather information and stay on track.

Day 1:
Interns focused on their connections to the firm through various sessions and activities:

  • Live Something Different—Interns made connections using small Zoom breakouts.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure I—This provided one of two opportunities for interns to dive deeper into topics, e.g.: well-being, hybrid work, and diversity.
  • Striving for Self-Confidence
  • Building Your Brand
  • Setting & Achieving Goals—Interns learned about Protiviti’s adviser program and culture of feedback/recognition.
  • Exploring Our Vision, Mission, & Values—Interns explored using design thinking.
  • Conversation with Cory—An executive vice president shared his story and Protiviti’s promises.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure II—This was the second of two opportunities for interns to dive deeper into topics.
  • Expanding Your Network
  • Exploring Employee Networking Groups
  • Ask Me Anything! Panel
  • Masterpiece in Progress—It was stressed that today is Day 1 of the internship; there are many days ahead in the interns’ careers, and Protiviti cannot wait to see the adventures ahead for the interns at the firm.

Program evaluations included intern surveys, facilitator feedback, and offer acceptance rates. Intern surveys assessed real-time feedback provided at the end of Day 0 and Day 1, as well as feedback after Week 1. Findings included:

  • 89% of interns rated “The Team, The Tools, and The Landscape” as “excellent” or “great”;
  • 89% of interns rated the Liftoff with Protiviti content as “excellent” or “great”; and
  • 99% of interns agreed that Liftoff with Protiviti’s facilitators had the knowledge and skills to meet their needs.

At the end of the summer, 95% of the interns received an offer to return to Protiviti; overall, the organization achieved a 75% acceptance rate.

Chapman says the key element that led to the success of the program are the commitment from the firm’s leaders and all invested parties.  

“At Protiviti,” she says, “we embrace that our interns are our future leaders and graduate recruiting and learning and development have full support from our leaders to share the excitement with others integral to the success of Liftoff with Protiviti. We had the opportunity to pilot a few instances in Liftoff with small audiences around the firm and gather feedback, and we conducted a number of design-thinking labs to see what individuals felt was important, so we were able to ensure all business lines were involved. Additionally, there were a few key people from a variety of teams driving each decision and the ultimate finished product.”

The success of the program coupled with the possibilities it offers has Protiviti forging ahead with the program.

“When Liftoff with Protiviti 2022 was being planned, we had approval to return to being fully in person for the entire onboarding process,” Chapman explains. “However, we are not looking to go backward, but instead to move forward together. Through the success of Liftoff with Protiviti 2021, we learned that we wanted to run a hybrid approach to Liftoff with Protiviti 2022.”  

Protiviti continued to have the first day occur in the live-virtual setting, with individuals powering on their devices from more than 320 individual locations across North America.

“We then extended the invitation and planned travel accommodations for all to travel to Austin, Texas, to continue their experience of Liftoff with Protiviti followed by The Intern Challenge, which allowed us to host the second day of Liftoff with Protiviti in person,” Chapman continues.

“We kept many modules and connection points virtual, but also moved collaboration in-person in hopes that we’d see all interns find their voice and comfort with our firm. Throughout this process, Protiviti reimagined what a virtual internship onboarding experience could be to ensure interns are connected to our firm, our tools, and our people, which in turn helps them to be successful throughout their experience.”