Venmo Emoji Hacks, Innovation Tournaments, And More: My Summer Internship At PayPal

Liam Berry
Venmo Emoji Hacks, Innovation Tournaments, And More: My Summer Internship At PayPal
Sponsored by, PayPal

Some internships are memorable because of the friends you make. Others are important for your career because of the skills you learned or the connections you made. And sometimes you get to do work that really makes a difference at the company—and in the world.

Luckily for Justine—an intern-turned-employee at PayPal—she got to make memories doing all of the above in her summer internship on the business operations team.

We spoke to her about her experience at the global payments technology leader. Here are some highlights.

#1: Creating A New Emoji For Venmo

The stuff of tech internship dreams, Justine and her fellow interns were all invited to participate in an “Emoji Hack” for Venmo—a nearly ubiquitous payment app that’s part of the PayPal family. Designed for interns of all functions, the hack teams were made up of PayPal interns from across various teams.

“They made it so that anyone, regardless of tech or creative experience, could participate,” she explains.

Justine and her winning Emoji Hack team. Can you spot the trophies?

Not only was this an incredibly cool opportunity for Justine and her peers—but it was a great example of how innovative tech companies leverage teams with diverse backgrounds and functions to produce game-changing work. The teams came up with so many emojis that, even though Justine and her team won, plenty of the ideas ended up being valuable in the long run.

“We worked on the red cup emoji, which ended up winning the hack,” Justine says. “It just went live the other week, so now I can send it to my friends, which is really satisfying.”

#2: Creating An Innovation Tournament—And Coaching The Winning Team

An innovation tournament is exactly what it sounds like. Teams from around the world at PayPal compete to pitch different ideas that could change one of the PayPal products—and maybe even the world. The crazy part about this event is that the idea for it actually came out of another, earlier event, which Justine also won: the PayPal Intern Summit.

“Toward the end of the summer, the Director of Innovation put together an Intern Summit to work on projects, development, and brainstorm,” Justine explains. “The topic was: ‘How do we increase employee engagement at PayPal?’ We broke out into small teams and came up with ideas.”

Justine and her team for the global business case competition that grew from her winning idea.

Her idea was a global business case competition to drive both innovation and employee engagement at the company, aka the Innovation Tournament. The director in charge of the Intern Summit liked the idea so much that he helped make it a reality. Even though most of the tournament occurred when Justine was back at school, she still got to participate in a meaningful way when she returned.

“It was so cool to know that an idea I had when I was an intern became a reality at this massive company,” she says. “When I rejoined PayPal full time in September, I was able to become an advisor to the team that won. We’re now working on making that idea a reality, too.”

#3: Redesigning The Newsletter For A Multibillion-Dollar Company

Of course, it’s not all field day–esque events like hackathons and tournaments. Justine’s actual work was one of her favorite aspects of the internship.

As a member of the operations team, she was tasked with handling some critical aspects of the company’s internal communications. One of her favorite projects was redesigning the company newsletter.

“We made it easier to read, improved the quality of information, and increased engagement,” she says.

If you’ve never worked at a large corporation before, you might not know how big of a deal something like this is. These newsletters are essential sources of information read by thousands of people around the world. They create a sense of community and bring attention to important initiatives like volunteer efforts and events (like the Emoji Hack and Innovation Tournament). And Justine was able to make significant improvements to PayPal’s—all while working as a summer intern.

Internships Are Proving Grounds For Members Of The PayPal Team

What Justine—and so many of her peers in the program—realized was that the PayPal internship program wasn’t just a funnel for coffee runs and lectures. It was an opportunity to take on high-impact work in an organization full of people who loved to teach and test new talent.

“Now, the projects are more challenging, but the people and the culture are the same,” she says. “And that’s what I loved about PayPal in the first place.”

Want to make your own ✅ on a global technology company? Check out open opportunities at PayPal on WayUp right now!