This story originally ran in September 2017.
The tech industry is famous for having some of the best internships around. From free food, to impressive monthly stipends, Silicon Valley is the place to be for college students hoping to get an engineering job after graduation.
While everyone knows about the perks of corporate tech, we wanted to find out for ourselves what it’s really like to intern in Silicon Valley. So last month we visited the Sunnyvale, California, campus of LinkedIn – the employment-focused social network that Microsoft acquired last year.
LinkedIn hires about 300 interns each summer and spreads them out among its offices in Sunnyvale, San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Singapore, and Bangalore. Those interns have a great shot at a full-time job at the company. About 69% of last year’s intern crop eventually were hired by LinkedIn.
Our tour guide for the day was Ana Carolina Mexia Ponce, an interface engineering intern who will be a senior this fall at Stanford. She showed Business Insider what it’s like to intern at one of Silicon Valley’s big companies.
Here’s what we saw.
For most people at LinkedIn, the day starts at 9 a.m.. The company’s main campus is in Sunnyvale, California, about an hour south of San Francisco.
LinkedIn’s Sunnyvale campus has 15 different buildings, and it’s about a 15-minute walk from one end of the campus to the other.
Some employees take Caltrain, the commuter train that runs between San Francisco and San Jose, to get to the campus. Many others drive. A lot of employees have electric vehicles.
This summer, LinkedIn has 300 interns, which it has spread among its various worldwide offices. The interns’ compensation includes corporate housing, stipends, travel support, and flights tickets for their families that allow them to visit the interns.
Ana Carolina works 40 hours a week, but she generally sets her own schedule. She gets into the office around 7:30 a.m., because she works better in the morning.
One of her favourite parts of the job is that she can dress however she wants. Besides computer engineering, the other career Ana Carolina considered was one in the fashion industry.
Before starting on her projects, Ana Carolina grabs a free breakfast at one of the three cafeteria-style dining halls. There are also three coffee bars and two smoothie bars, with drinks made-to-order.
Her latte came out within minutes of her order.
Ana Carolina is the only intern on her team, so she sits with other full-time employees. Her desk is adjustable, which allows her to go quickly from standing to sitting throughout the day.
This summer, she’s working on a user interface which will eventually be part of the website. She typically spends her mornings coding at her desk and her afternoons taking meetings in the open areas of the office.
Since most people work in open spaces, each floor has private rooms for peace and quiet. This one is named after Max Planck, a German theoretical physicist.
Sometimes Ana Carolina has meetings on the other side of campus. It can be a long walk, so she’ll often bike instead, using one the LinkedIn bicycles that are parked outside of her office.
But the walk isn’t so bad either.
LinkedIn’s Sunnyvale campus has lots of open space where employees can get a breath of fresh air. The city’s temperature is usually in the high 70’s during the summer, but it can get as hot as 100 degrees during a heat wave.
There’s a lot to see inside LinkedIn’s buildings also. Each one has its own unique art. This custom map of Silicon Valley is Ana Carolina’s favourite mural.
Around noon, Ana Carolina heads to one of the cafeterias for lunch. Food is made fresh everyday, with options ranging from pizza to Indian cuisine to a salad bar.
There’s even an on-site bakery, which makes fresh desserts every day.
Though she grew up in Mexico City, Ana Carolina’s a Californian at heart. Her favourite part of the cafeteria is the kombucha on tap.
The cafeterias are also stocked with a wide assortment of condiments, including these locally made hot sauces.
Ana Carolina tries to eat with a different person every day so she can network. On this day, she ate with Helen Finegold, a technical program manager at the company.
After lunch, it was time for a mentorship meeting with her advisor, Alex Kobylk. They met for an hour to discuss some problems she was encountering with the project she was working on.
After her meetings, Ana Carolina is free to take advantage of any of the many on-campus perks. A few times a week she takes a break in the “mindfulness” room. On this day, though, someone was using it when we walked by.
Those who aren’t into meditation can take a break in one of the game rooms. A few people were playing ping-pong when we walked in.
What tech office would be complete without customised ping-pong paddles?
Then there are the snacks … The many kitchens around campus are fully stocked with lunch meats, cereals, and a wide range of drinks.
Ana Carolina usually goes for the M&Ms when she needs an afternoon pick-me-up.
At the end of the day, Ana Carolina goes to a free yoga class or works out at one of the three campus gyms. This particular gym has a rock climbing wall.
There are also showers and towels in the gyms so people can work out in between meetings.
If she’s around late enough, Ana Carolina grabs some free dinner before driving home to her off-campus apartment.
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