- 20th Century Fox
While most major tech companies these days close out the summer by waving goodbye to another batch of interns, no program has enjoyed the limelight more than Google’s.
The search giant set the standard for the kinds of employee perks that have spread through Silicon Valley and its intern experience even got the Hollywood treatment in the rollicking 2013 blockbuster “The Internship.”
But what’s it really like being a Google intern?
A few current and former dished on their experiences:
Here’s how you get the gig:
Most of the Alphabet companies offer internships for students, but the largest number of opportunities are with teams across Google. All you have to do is fill in an application online.
“I applied on a complete whim – when my friend told me to do it I laughed because I thought there was no way they’d accept me,” one rising sophomore who recently completed a summer internship told us. “But they did.”
Applicants get graded on their general cognitive ability, role-related knowledge (hence coding tests for engineers or questions related to Google’s ad operations for people on the business side), level of leadership, and “Googleyness.”
That isn’t to say that a blind application is the only way to get in.
Another summer intern we talked to, Emily Wicki, explained how she cold-emailed a Googler employee whose business card she’d gotten through a career fair. She was very interested in digital forensics and eventually ended up keeping in touch with a different Googler long enough that she felt pretty confident that she’d already sealed herself a spot before even filling out an official application. She ended up working as a software engineer on the incidents response team.
If you’re accepted, prepare for a cushy salary, lavish perks, and a whole lot of fun.
- Business Insider
Google doesn’t offer the highest of Silicon Valley intern paychecks, but the monthly salary is still crazy-steep, and comes with perks like free food and intern excursions. One highlight we heard about several times was when Google rented out a theme park for an entire day for all its interns.
Google pays engineering students a median $6,666 per month (that would multiply out to $80,000 a year), along with a median $9,000 stipend, according to two interns we talked to. Non-engineering interns may make slightly less. That lines up to what’s on salary website Glassdoor.
(For comparison, Facebook gives its employees free housing and salaries can hit $8,400 a month.)
- John Loo
Interns also have a speaker series that features Alphabet VPs and they’re encouraged to participate in goofy events like “bubble soccer” or archery tag (think dodgeball, but with play-arrows).
But while they may battle it out on the field, interns are shockingly uncompetitive at work, according to Wicki, who loved the community aspect of her experience.
Google interns come from all over the country and world and even though they don’t have assigned housing together, they’ll often end up hanging out after work and banding together for housing.
One intern told us he rented an Airbnb with 23 other interns – 15 from Google.
Perks aside, the projects interns focus on are really the most important part.
“The idea of interning at Google is very shiny,”Jourdan Dorrell, a summer intern this year, tells Business Insider. “But as glamorous as it might sound, it’s a lot of hard work.”
- Stephen Brashear/Getty
Each student gets paired with a full-time Googler as a “host” to help them figure out a project.
Dan Ferrara, a senior software engineer, says he loves hosting new interns because his host had such an impact on his career when he interned five years ago. Back then, he spent his summer working on an update to Google’s survey tool, Forms, and laughs remembering how his dad printed out the blog post announcing it. Today, he similarly tries to help students find coding projects that are public facing.
No matter what, he wants them to feel like their work has an impact, even at such a huge company. New engineers are usually stunned at Google’s sheer scale.
“They’re used to working with maybe 1,000 lines of code – they have no idea what it’s like to work on 10s-of-thousands or hundreds-of-thousands lines,” he says. “But we really value their opinions. We treat them like full-timers.”
Dorrell interned on the business team, so she spent her days talking to customers. She says that her experience made her see a different side of Google search: how its ad products can actually change people’s lives.