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How Canva hires early career talent with Nathalia Gonzalez

Hannah Johnston

Jun 9, 2023
min read

We caught up with Nathalia Gonzalez, Talent Acquisition Partner at Canva to learn more about Canva Internships and Grad Programs.

There’s a reason why early career folk dream of starting their careers at Canva. The team take hiring and nurturing talent seriously - developing world-class internship and graduate programs that are strongly differentiated from others in the market. 

Hatch recently sat down with Nathalia Gonzalez, a Talent Acquisition Partner at Canva to learn more about their approach. Nathalia is highly experienced in hiring early career talent having done so across Deloitte, Macquarie University, MIT, and now Canva.

Read on as we go deeper into how Canva works its hiring magic. 

How do you approach internships at Canva?

Nathalia: We highly value our interns and believe in providing them with valuable experience while providing support, guidance and unique opportunities. Our internship program at Canva is designed to be a comprehensive and engaging opportunity for students to gain real-world experience and contribute to meaningful projects. We run a twelve-week summer internship program where our interns work on a specific project and get teamed up with a Canva host and buddy. Their Canva host provides ongoing support and offers valuable insight into the project through weekly feedback sessions. At the end of the program, our interns have a presentation day where they showcase what they’ve worked on.

They usually have about 3-4 minutes to present their work. We try to keep the internship program super exciting with activities such as study hall, which is where interns focus on improving Communication and Strategy. Something that our intern's love is the social activities and clubs that we run throughout the program. 

What does a graduate program look like at Canva?

Nathalia: At Canva, our Graduate Program is called the Launchpad Program – a twelve-month launch for someone into their early career. Our Launchpad program is different to other programs in the market because we believe in equal opportunity – we don’t require students to have specific professional qualifications.  Instead, we embrace a skills-based approach and prioritise what applicants bring to the table, rather than what degrees they hold. 

Throughout the twelve months, we conduct regular cohort-based learning and development activities. This allows the grads to have a supportive community on a similar journey to them. We also have a buddy system for that additional level of support.

Canva University (Canva’s internal Learning & Development program), offers a range of learning opportunities to keep participants growing, confident, and ready for further development. Launchpad participants have access to resources, courses, workshops, and mentorship programs that support their continuous learning journey and career progression. We believe that investing in their development empowers them to contribute to their own success and the success of Canva. 

How do you ensure you're engaging a diverse group of talent in your graduate program?

Nathalia: Previously, we used to work with Universities and societies, but we’re now working on much broader acquisition strategies so we’re able to reach different community groups and spread awareness globally. We also like to leverage our owned channels like LinkedIn, Instagram and events to drive awareness of both programs.

Is there a connection between the internship and the graduate program? 

Nathalia: Yes, so one of the main goals of the internship program is to be a source of early career talent for Canva. For example, promoting full-time opportunities at the time of the internship program. This allows us to keep growing early career talent at Canva. At the end of the internship, we assess how the interns went, based on an internal review process from members across the wider team.

The assessment covers skills, values and many other aspects of the Canva culture. After this, we offer permanent full-time roles in the Launchpad program. Internships are not the only pathway to joining Canva as a graduate - we still go to market with the Launchpad program more broadly as we want to give everyone the opportunity.

Are there deadlines or key timelines for internships and Launchpad roles?

Nathalia: In terms of the timing of the program, we’ve changed the order a few times to test different strategies. Applications used to always be open for these programs, but we decided giving the candidates timelines to work towards makes more sense. It’s important to us, and candidates, to be transparent about where their application is in the process. This year we are opening applications in phases of 30 days, from May to June we advertised all the Engineering Internships and then from June to July we will open the Design ones. 

How do you provide insights to candidates about the work they’ll be doing in the graduate program?

Nathalia: For our Launchpad Program, we do not say upfront “This will be your team” and “This is what you’ll be working on” - as the program is designed to be more exploratory. We promote grad roles more broadly, depending on the speciality area. Ie. Engineering or Design graduate positions. Our hiring process is very much about opening the doors, and then having a two-way conversation. We like to share as much information as possible about the type of work involved in such a role and also leave plenty of space for them to get to know us. 

Another point of difference in Canva's hiring process is that it’s more about over-delivering information to candidates. Particularly in the later stages of the hiring process - there's a real focus on learning about the team and the projects they're working on.

For example, if you are applying for a front-end engineering role, we try and describe that they’ll be working on the side of the product that interacts directly with the user and is quite different to back-end engineering. Then, towards the end of the recruitment process, we'll really dive into sharing more about the team and the projects they’d specifically be working on.

What does an application process generally look like for candidates?

Nathalia: It’s really important to us to consistently communicate with candidates throughout the application process. If candidates progress after the initial application and assessment, they’re invited to complete a task related to the role they applied for. For example, engineering roles usually require a coding exercise. If it’s more of a design role, they’ll have to complete a mini challenge or a talking presentation ( designed on Canva of course!). Then we provide feedback if they are successful or not to progress through to the next stage. The next stage is where we conduct interviews. 

It’s awesome to see the volume that comes through to Canva. With this, we designed the process to be fair for every candidate. For both the Launchpad and intern programs, we built in a top-of-funnel skills assessment to support the filtering process - which shows if candidates meet the basic criteria for the role. On top of basic questions, we also ask questions that are specifically about the role, for example for engineering roles - ask the coding language the candidates are most capable with. 

For interns, we have short, condensed interviews. For example, we’ll use hypothetical questions instead of behavioural questions. The intent of this is to ensure that this process doesn’t feel like a daunting process. If the candidate is successful in this interview, we’ll progress them to the final interview. 

How do you understand if a candidate is strongly motivated to join the team at Canva?

Nathalia: For us, we really love passion and really seeing the motivation that candidates have and what they can bring to the team at Canva. Often we’ll bring this out by asking about their reasons for wanting to join either the internship or Launchpad program. 

The questions that candidates ask throughout the process are also really important and often a key indicator of just how motivated they are. Something that aligns strongly with our values is appreciating the importance of diversity. So I particularly like when candidates ask about diversity goals. To me, this shows that a candidate has gone the extra mile to understand our company values ahead of time. Something else I like is when they talk about Canva’s values, and how they might align with theirs. A memorable example of a candidate expressing themselves was when someone wrote a song, instead of just submitting a video. It was so good. The effort and motivation displayed to want to be a part of the company were super evident. 

How do you collect feedback and continually improve the experience for candidates applying? 

We are always looking for ways to improve our hiring process. For example, optimising the top-of-funnel assessments and improving our recruiter screen to evaluate more skills up front. On top of this, we are always working on continuously improving the candidate experience for example by reducing the number of interviews and steps in the process and asking for their feedback at the end via a survey.

Learn more about Life at Canva

It is without a doubt that Life at Canva makes a lot of sense for ambitious early career folk. It is also clear that the team's hiring processes and strategies are inspiring for many other high-growth teams. What will you take from learning more about the early career hiring process at Canva? We’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Read more about Life at Canva.

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