If you’ve ever had an internship, or seen “The Devil Wears Prada”, you know that sometimes working as an apprentice means fetching coffee, making copies, and doing the busy work no other salaried employee feels like doing.
This is supposed to teach you what it’s like to work in the “real world,” and sometimes, you walk away with the skills and contacts to help you get ahead when it’s time to catapult yourself into corporate America.
Other times, you don’t.
At big tech companies like Google, internships are highly sought after positions, so we were dying to find out: what is interning at Google really like?
We checked out this thread on Quora, where former interns talked about their experiences at Google.
This is what we learned:
It’s kind of like college.
Devin Finzer, part of the Google Internship class of 2011, wrote on Quora that the collaborative environment was not all that unlike his experience in his college classes.
“It’s really low-stress,” he writes (though he notes other interns may not have shared this same sentiment) “and you get to learn about all aspects of the Google business.”
Molly Long was an intern in Seattle this year and wrote on Quora that the Google environment made it really easy to meet other interns, get to know them, and work together.
“There are, quite literally, no secrets.”
“The open office also mirrors how open the company is internally,” Long wrote on Quora. “There are quite literally, no secrets. There’s [a meeting] every Thursday where Larry and Sergey, the founders, answer company-wide questions, broadcasted to the entire company. They present the new Google technologies so they can get feedback on it from everyone. For example, Google Glass, was presented at [the meeting], several months before it was announced public.”
The interns aren’t getting coffee.
Paul Baltescu was a two-time intern in 2010 and then again in 2011. He said he worked on tons of different projects, including Display Ads and Mobile Search, which helped him hone his computer engineering skills.
Long says Google has the system down pat. First, you get a phone call from your host, who tells you a little bit about the area you’re being assigned to so there are absolutely no surprises — you can even choose to decline that project if it doesn’t interest you!
“I think this process works out really well for the interns and the hosts,” she writes, “and I think most of the interns that I’ve talked to really enjoy what they are working on (me included!)”
They have something to show for their work.
Baltescu has an easy time describing his internship to anyone who asks because he has visual proof of his labour. He worked on a Mobile Search project that helped revamp the Google search preferences page for high end phones.
“You can check them out,” he wrote on Quora, “by going into ‘preferences’ on your phone.”
It’s all about the perks!
Across the board, it looked like everyone was thrilled with the perks that came along with being an intern for Google; the same perks full-time employees get.
Baltescu listed a few: “free food & refreshments, free gym membership, laundry, dancing lessons, etc.”
He and Long both wrote that they were able to travel to other Google campuses as well.
It’s not exactly like the movie.
“The Internship” which stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn came out this past summer, and showcases a fictional tale of two guys trying to score a coveted internship at Google.
Long says her internship experience wasn’t exactly like Wilson and Vaughn’s.
The perks (everything I described earlier), yes. The ruthless competitiveness towards each other, no. Rather, mos
t major tech companies encourage a collaborative environment. You’re not trying to outsmart your friend working across from you or backstab them while they’re taking a bathroom break. Case in point, I’ve helped my friends debug their problems and even point them to people that might help and I’d say most people are equally as friendly here :)
You’re important, but you’re definitely an intern (and don’t you forget it).
Jesse Radin, a former Google intern, posted on Quora that the worst part is “the smug attitude of those who work for the REAL Google. They seem to think that anyone who isn’t working for the actual Google like they are is somehow mentally and morally inferior.“
Yes, you’ll get paid.
The New York Post reported in June that Google interns are among the highest-paid interns anywhere, earning up to $20k for a three-month stint at the headquarters.