Apple is almost as well-known for its secretive company culture as it is for its wildly popular products.
So, naturally, we were pretty stoked when we found a Quora thread being used by former Apple interns to spill about their experience at the company.
We’ve edited some of the standout comments into this excerpt.
Unsurprisingly, Apple interns aren’t fetching coffee:
“You get put on a real project, with real responsibilities, and have real impact on product outcomes. You interact with movers and shakers in the company on a fairly frequent basis, and your opinion is valued as if you were an employee.”
Flickr / Ben Gertzfield
A scene from an after-dark party on the Apple campus.
Besides the legit work experience and the hefty paycheck, Apple interns also enjoy some other perks:
“There were frequent intern trips in to San Francisco, nightly volleyball games at 1 Infinite Loop, outings to various Cupertino restaurants, etc. Even though you’re treated almost as a full employee in terms of responsibilities, Apple does a great job of giving interns cool events such as the Executive Speaker Series (intern only talks by Apple’s leadership team, including Jobs himself), Intern Field Trips to San Francisco, and iContest, which is an intern ideas contest, judged by Apple execs, with amazing prizes (I won a 1Tb Time Capsule, and a $US500 bonus when a patent was filed on my team’s idea).”
Apple also offers interns cheap housing:
“Apple offer you a great housing opportunity a few blocks from the main campus for a small price. Those houses are great, fully equipped and they include full access to a pool, tennis court, beach volley ball court and a gym. Apple even lends you a bike for the whole internship.The greatest thing with housing is that you are not alone, you share it with three others interns from all around the world. It is a great way to learn and mix with other cultures.”
“It is actually really cool to see inside the sausage factory. In my case, I was able to watch Snow Leopard come together — from the early stages where it looked just like Leopard and was unstable and broken, until just before it went gold. The mere fact that I knew the codename “Snow Leopard” months before it became publicly known felt kinda cool.”
But, of course, this IS Apple:
“It was super cool to get to be intimately involved in products before they came out, and to see the gritty details of past products, even some that never made it to market. But it should be noted that this only applies within your immediate department, as everything outside of your department is on a need-to-know basis.”
Apple keeps its secrets close.
As an Apple intern, you’re surrounded by smart people:
“Apple is home to world-class experts on a lot of subjects. I learned a huge amount of stuff just by being around my teams, especially the Server Performance team. Apple is solely responsible for an entire technology ecosystem, and you can talk to and learn from the people who built that ecosystem. Say you’re wondering how dynamic linking on OS X works. Well, you can talk to the guy who wrote the dynamic linker, and he can tell you stuff that nobody else knows.”
The huge company has many different departments, though, so the intern experience depends heavily on which team you’re part of:
Owen Yamuachi worked on OS X Server Performance and then OS X Server Experience:
“Of my two projects, one didn’t have any tangible results (I was basically running some benchmarks on a file system, thus producing numbers to confirm something that the team already knew) and the other one, although I finished it to everyone’s satisfaction, will never see the light of day due to external factors.
The Server Performance team consisted entirely of middle-aged guys. I don’t have anything against middle-aged guys, but it meant that I basically never socialized with my team outside the office — they generally worked 9 to 5 and then went home to their families.”
Yamuachi also disclosed that not every intern gets to work on Apple’s Infinite Loop campus:
“My team was located in a distant building on Vallco Parkway, a couple of miles away from the main campus at Infinite Loop. This meant that I was physically separate from most of the other interns, and also there was no cafe in that building. The building itself was also not very pleasant — it consisted mainly of dark, narrow hallways with absurdly high ceilings for some reason, and private offices for everyone. Having my own (needlessly huge) office meant that I could literally go an entire day without talking to anyone else. This has upsides (I had the longest periods of intense concentration I’ve ever had in my life) and downsides (it got quite lonely).
On the bright side, Apple makes its internship program very accessible for international interns:
“Apple helps you all the way and requests on your behalf the services of an association which will draft all the needed paperwork (and there is a lot). Apple will also vouch for you to the US Customs.
I understand English pretty well, writing/speaking it is another matter. Whether it was at work or with the other interns outside of work, people have always been very patient and nice to me.”
A good sum-up of the Apple internship experience?
“All in all I think most interns go away from the summer with a good sense for the Apple culture and probably a good story or two.”