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Summer Internships - The Good, and the Bad? 273

Posted by Cliff
from the grade-your-out-of-school-opportunities dept.
loquacious d asks: "This has been a spectacular summer for open-source student internships. Google funded a huge variety of open-source projects through the Summer of Code, including GCC-CIL and other improvements to Mono, new features and fixes for Gaim, and even new packages for Common Lisp. Joel Spolsky at Fog Creek hired four interns to produce a highly modified version of VNC called Fog Creek Copilot, and Paul Graham's new venture capital firm Y Combinator helped students create their own tech companies. What internships did people enjoy this summer, and which ones didn't work out so well? Which ones would you recommend to next year's applicants, and which should they avoid?"
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Summer Internships - The Good, and the Bad?

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  • Open Source? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Breakfast Pants (323698) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:14PM (#13298813) Journal
    Paul Graham's and the Fog Creek internships aren't necessarily open source. VNC isn't in a copyleft license, and the web backend to the system probably won't be released anyway.
    • Whoever modded this offtopic is an idiot.
    • As another poster said, not only the VNC version they used is GPLd, they are also giving back all the modifications they made to it. So why not shut up and avoid this kind of egg-in-da-face?
      • I was wrong on that. That still doesn't answer why the Paul Graham stuff was in there (there is no evidence they are or are not open source and they certainly aren't internships).
  • by smoondog (85133) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:19PM (#13298843)
    I once did an NSF funded REU internship and it was one of the greater experiences of my life. I met people I'm still friends with, I became a researcher in the area and I still do some of the things I learned then. I highly recommend them, they also are great for the resume when finding a job, when I hire now, internships make a difference. Obviously at the undergraduate level is an excellent time to do this, although many CS/engineering grad students do this successfully. Bio grad students not so much.

    OutdoorDB [outdoordb.org] - The outdoor Wiki
  • by Carthag (643047) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:19PM (#13298847) Homepage
    I am a Danish computer science student, currently interning for a small telecom/tech startup in South SF, working mostly on Java and frontend stuff. This is my first internship overseas.

    It's a lot of fun to see the dynamics of such a small company (less than ten employees as compared to my previous employer which had 3000 in the main location).

    I can warmly recommend trying it out! If it's not for you, hey you only wasted a couple of months, but you got a lot of experience and something nice to put on your resume. If you like it, well then you may even be a future hire!

    I gotta admit though: Going back home in 3 weeks, I am starting to feel a bit of homesickness. Plus I miss public intoxication, oh God.
    • if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll try to answer them.
      • So how usual is it to be publicly intoxicated in Denmark? (Actually you get that in SF too, but mostly South of Market...)
        • It's basically legal to get drunk in parks or in the zoo or whatever. So that's what we do. I really miss walking on the sidewalk with some friends, each a beer in hand (and none of that brown bag crap).
    • "I am a Danish computer science student, currently interning for a small telecom/tech startup in South SF, working mostly on Java and frontend stuff."

      I read that as Java and Fortran stuff. Geez I've been spending too much time on old IRIX environments trying to resurrect simulation and modeling codes from the cold war era.
    • JETRO (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Intocabile (532593)
      I'm currently an intern in Japan. My job isn't as glamorous as some but getting the opportunity to live and work in a different culture has been a great experience. I have not been translating Japanese->English thank you, just a typical power engineer job. Some other interns I know are working with robotics and if that's your thing then there is no better place in the world. I'll be here for another 10 months but JETRO internships can be as little as 4 months. Just don't expect to be paid much.
    • I wholeheartedly agree that interning overseas is great. I'm a physicist in the summer between my undergraduate and graduate work and I got an internship in Italy with the INFN/DOE summer student exchange program. The pay is decent, and more importantly, it's a great way to get to see Europe without breaking the bank. And while the parent is missing public intoxication, I'm here in Europe enjoying all of it.
  • by Thinthalion (906989) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:19PM (#13298849)
    I'm an intern at Sun Microsystems this summer, working with the Java Swing team on look and feel oriented stuff. It's very interesting to work on such a huge project. I've also had the chance to talk at JavaOne. Overall it's an excellent and wonderful experience.
  • Summer TV (Score:5, Funny)

    by FrankTheCrazy (694812) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:20PM (#13298857)
    My internship was in front of my TV.

    It was HORRIBLE. It didn't pay at all, it always seemed that I was unappreciated, and worst of all I was forced to do the same tasks over and over...
  • Good Iternships (Score:2, Insightful)

    by solodex2151 (700977)
    Many companies are willing to take students iterns for the summer. I know of a couple of iterns at Sandia National Laboratories that did an amazing amount of software development. Local companies often have openings and are willing to work with people. Use your imagination and don't just try big name projects.
    • Re:Good Iternships (Score:3, Informative)

      by et764 (837202)
      As one of those interns at Sandia National Laboratories, I can say it was an excellent experience. I learned a lot and got experience working with a software development organization that is very well organized. I got to meet some of the other interns, and have been really amazed by the breadth of work being done here. I've got some real world experience, something that looks good on my resume, and plenty of opportunities are opened up that I might not have had otherwise. Today I demoed the project I've
  • by guaigean (867316) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:24PM (#13298877)
    Ok, so maybe this should have been obvious. One of my internships ended up being for a company that eventually taught me only one thing; pick your jobs carefully. I picked a small company that had a programming internship, got picked up, and found out quickly that I was THE programmer. Turns out they do this regularly, and use the cheapest labor they can find to do their projects. In turn, the permenant staff which was less skilled was making 3 times as much while I worked my ass off and they played horse shoes outside during hot days.

    Lesson learned?
    1. Check out the capability of your employers, supervisors, and fellow employees just as they check you out.
    2. Don't be afraid to ask LOTS of questions!
    • a company that eventually taught me only one thing; pick your jobs carefully


      If that's the only thing you learned, it was still well worth your time... :)
    • by MAdMaxOr (834679)
      You hopefully learned a little bit about how to be a senior programmer in the real world. No one was there to hold your hand through the tough parts, you had to make architectural decisions with somewhat lasting ramifications, you had to deal with tough business realities.

      This real-world experience will help you in the long run.
    • Wow, you just gave me a great idea for a business.
    • I have friends that work as engineering directors of 100-300 person companies and every summer they recruit 'interns' to work for $10/hour as jr software engineers. The demand for these positions is high despite the low pay and the interns are usually hired on as full time after a few months.

      Everyone is replaceable, even upper level management, but entry level positions are the easiest to replace.
    • but... (Score:3, Funny)

      by oldwolf13 (321189)
      ...did you get to go to the Ball?
  • by starseeker (141897) * on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:25PM (#13298886) Homepage
    Common Lisp has been attracting a lot of attention lately, compared to previous activity. Several of the Common Lisp projects funded were for the purpose of improving things like foreign function interfaces, and thus speed Lisp's popularity and utility even further.

    There are a lot of applications written in Lisp that are special enough and powerful enough to justify lots of attention. For example:

    ACL2 : http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/moore/acl2/ [utexas.edu]
    This is a high powered proof assistant and IIRC was used by AMD to verify some parts of their chip design.

    Maxima: http://maxima.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    This is a computer algebra system, with the ability to do things like symbolic integration. Not your run of the mill program, and very difficult to do except in a language like lisp or a similar language

    Axiom: http://www.axiom-developer.org/ [axiom-developer.org]
    A second computer algebra system, with a slightly different approach than Maxima. Also extremely powerful, and is pushing the envelope of robust, literate program design for computational mathematics.

    None of these has a pretty interface, granted (at least not one written in lisp) but these are not your everyday programs. Lisp is a real language in real, non-trivial use.

    There are a variety of other projects being undertaken, check out http://common-lisp.net/ [common-lisp.net] for many of them. And if you want to code lisp remember to explore SLIME+Emacs.
    • by Wolfbone (668810) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @06:44PM (#13299383)
      The perverse unpopularity of Lisp is very frustrating. Even searching for Emacs Lisp packages turns up less current activity and more cobwebs than I'd have expected given Emacs's widespread use and Lisp's extraordinary power, and I've so far failed to get any of the GUI toolkits to work with SBCL or CLISP under Gentoo. I read mind-boggling and inexplicable opinions such as this [orgserve.de] and I wonder if Lisp is a case of pearls before swine in the computing world, but I do hope you're right about it attracting a lot of attention lately.
      • Is emacs that common anymore? I haven't seen anyone using emacs outside of university in about 6 years.
      • I've so far failed to get any of the GUI toolkits to work with SBCL or CLISP under Gentoo.

        Me neither. CLX, CLIM, cl-gtk, Lambda-gtk, cl-sdl - none of them worked properly for me. They installed perfectly because the Gentoo maintainer for dev-lisp really knows what he's doing, but I couldn't get any compiled or working.

        It's been very disappointing because I'm really enjoying Lisp the language, having worked my way through Practical Common Lisp [gigamonkeys.com] and now reading the classic PAIP [norvig.com] which must be the finest book on
  • Let's hear your stories!
  • My advice would be that if you're a student, you NOT avoid any internship in your field! Any experience will be greatly beneficial in helping you get your next internship / real job. If its between lifeguarding and taking a crappy job in your field, I'd take the crappy job in your field.
    • Re:Avoid (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AnotherPoster (793438)
      If its between lifeguarding and taking a crappy job in your field, I'd take the crappy job in your field.

      I think that this is the biggest problem with how students select a summer internship.

      The greatest aspect of a summer internship is that it's temporary. For three months you get great exposure to a field, with absolutely no strings attached. And so why not do something different from what you do day-in-and-day-out at school?

      You don't need to do something as extreme as becoming a life guard. But
      • Re:Avoid (Score:3, Interesting)

        by plover (150551) *
        The only counter I have to your suggestion is that real-world employment is usually so far removed from acadamia that whether you enter your major field or not won't make a difference as far as the actual lessons you end up learning.

        Usually, the real-world lessons you learn include: identify who will take advantage of you; identify people you can trust for assistance; discover that you misjudged your boss' penchant for sadism; salaries sometimes seem to have precious little to do with who does the real wo

      • I wholehartedly agree. I took computer engineering in university, but I did some of my interships in completely different fields. I spent 8 months on a biodiesel reserach project and 4 months working at the sudbury neutrino observatory.

        The biodiesel one was great - I was basically in change of the research program, and I got to research, design and perform all the tests. Although it wasn't in my field, I made some major contacts at the university and the labs and it really helped when I applied to gra
    • Re:Avoid (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ironsides (739422)
      My advice would be that if you're a student, you NOT avoid any internship in your field! Any experience will be greatly beneficial in helping you get your next internship / real job. If its between lifeguarding and taking a crappy job in your field, I'd take the crappy job in your field.

      My first internship in my field paid $6/hour. Halfway through the summer the funding ran out under the internship account (Was for 250 hours only) and they kept me on. At $10/hour (nice pay raise for 2.5 months work). Th
  • Tomorrow will be the last day of my 5th summer internship at Sandia Labs [sandia.gov] . I haven't worked anywhere else so I can't really compare, but I thought it was pretty enjoyable expereince overall. I did alot of web programming (mainly asp and PL/SQL web toolkit). Being a CS major, I found this job more suitable someone with an MIS background, but for 17.50 an hour I wasn't going to complain. I could have requested to get moved to another job, but I was too lazy. Now it seems that they want to hire me full t
  • Linuxbox (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:46PM (#13298986)
    I have an internship (for another week) at The Linux Box (linuxbox.com). I love it. Great people to work with. Get to work on Open Source projects. Learned a LOT. Great atmosphere, it was even paid!

    I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a summer internship.
  • Summer research (Score:3, Informative)

    by qx128 (542315) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:47PM (#13298992) Homepage
    For anyone looking for good internships, I highly recommend undergraduate research. I found the experience to be quite fun and educational. This summer, I did some Linux kernel research and built an extension of the kernel. The project records system call information. (It's similar to the Linux strace utility, but with several important modifications.) During the spring, earlier this year, I started looking for a summer internship. I didn't find my school's career fair too helpful. Submitting a resume via email is also rather impersonal, and doesn't allow you to show an employer why they should hire you. If you want to find a good internship for the summer, getting in front of someone who can actually hire you is key. (As oppose to some human-resources person). Also, ask about the project(s) you'll be working on. Make sure it fits your interests. At the same time, keep some opportunities as backups, even if you're not that interested in them. I got my internship by going around to different professors, asking them what projects they were researching, and if they'd like any help on the project for the summer. Most universities post the professor's research-interests on the staff webpage for the department. That's a good place to start when looking for interesting projects.
    • Don't be so dismissive towards the HR people. They are typically the ones who make the hiring decisions with regard to interns. Where I co-op, the HR person is responsible for all the interns. If they don't like you, you won't even get a chance to interview.
  • by themoodykid (261964) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:48PM (#13299000) Journal
    I did internships a few years ago (yikes, I feel old) at three different companies. Regardless, of the company, I highly recommend them for obvious reasons, i.e. you get great work experience.

    One tip I would give, though, is that wherever you do end up working, you are going to have to prove that you can take on challenging tasks. No matter how smart they are or think they are, companies who hire interns assume interns aren't very knowledgeable and aren't responsible enough to take on more challenging tasks. I can see where they are coming from, so I don't dispute the validity of their actions. With that in mind, if you really are good, don't be afraid to ask for more work, and more interesting stuff at that. I've found that in the past, I was able to breeze through tasks and was quickly bored. Initially, I was too shy and lacked confidence to ask for something more difficult, so I "wasted" my first internship by repeatedly doing simple things they tossed at me because I thought that I shouldn't rock the boat.

    Also, don't be surprised to find that you are left on your own and have nobody to hold your hand through things. I've never worked anywhere where somebody has always been around to help answer questions or knew enough to answer all my questions. But then, that's the reality of the work (and "real") world.
    • I had a year long internship where I wasn't expected to do anything. It paid well, provided accomodation, good benifits but the hiring managers pretty much expected the interns to be useless.

      As such, my assigned workload was around 4 hours a week. Most others in the group slacked off, but i made it a point to find things to do.

      Most of what I did resulted from me going to the boss and saying - "look here's a proof of concept for X", and more often than not i'd be tasked with doing that in production.

      Ahh the
      • Hey, yeah, I'm the same way. Even in my last-last job (not as an intern), whenever there was down time, I took the opportunity to read papers our Ph.Ds were reading and tried formulating my own ideas for use. Unfortunately, it still takes lots of work to get your ideas put into practice due to politics and bureaucracy.
  • I started out at Red Hat as a co-op last summer. Unfortunately 'co-op' means 'intern' to them for the most part, especially in terms of pay. But since then I've gained a serious amount of experience. And, well, I never left. I'm still working there now. :)
  • by koreth (409849) * on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:55PM (#13299057)
    My last couple years of in college I was an intern at Sun. I displayed some talent and found myself working on some projects that would normally have been given to much more senior engineers. All well and good: the work was interesting and challenging, I was getting exposed to lots of new technologies, and I got to see my stuff used in the real world.

    Then I graduated. I was enjoying working at Sun, so I decided to stay there. Since I wasn't an intern any more, they gave me a promotion -- to the lowest entry-level rung on the technical job ranking ladder, the only place their HR rules would allow me to proceed from an internship. On its face that might not seem unreasonable, but even before graduation I was already doing the work of people two or three ranks higher.

    Okay, fine, I figured, I'm sure I'll get promoted up to an appropriate level before long. Nope! Once again, Sun's HR rules kicked in: it's not possible to promote people at more than a certain rate. I would have to stay for several years before my job title and pay matched the work I was doing.

    Still, I liked working there, so I got over the annoyance and plugged away for a while.

    A year or so later, I got a job offer from a small company for about 40% more money than Sun was paying me, plus a decent chunk of equity, to do work that was just as interesting. My manager at Sun couldn't match the money; he had already maxed out my salary for the pay grade I was in, and HR wouldn't let him promote me for another 6 months or so. I took the offer, and I've never worked at another big company since.

    Now, I don't regret my time at Sun, but I guess the moral of the story is, keep your eyes open and make sure you don't get sucked so far into the first interesting place you work that you miss out on other opportunities. It's a fluid job market out there.

  • So they have started providing airfare to India for summer internships? Wow...
  • I begged for an intern but between the slow job posting process at our company and the fact that MS hired the decent local talent it did not go well. In the end we found a person through the grapevine who was looking for a job instead. I doubt I'l bother again. Can't compete with the big companies.
  • (Assumption: you're a computer science major.)

    If you have the luck of going to a university with a reputable computer science department, I would recommend you look to do some research under a CS professor.

    In general, it's a good opportunity to find a project that you're interested in. At this point in your life there will probably be many projects that interest you. Find one! Find a couple! Contact the professors and ask to do a summer internship. Offer to help out with ANYTHING for FREE. Typically t
  • I worked for National Instruments this summer. They are a pretty awesome company and have a *wide* variety of positions ranging from SW engineering to HW engineering, marketing & communications and leadership tracks. They pay very well and pay relocation costs which is a huge plus. Many interns get offered full time jobs at the end of the summer and go on to move up in the company. They have been listed in Fortune 500's top 100 companies to work for for 6 years in a row.

    I worked in both SW and HW positi
  • The Bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dj245 (732906) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @06:39PM (#13299353) Homepage
    I'm studying ME and did an internship in a Power station [rogertheshrubber.net]. I think this picture [rogertheshrubber.net] about sums it up. A co-worker held the hopper hatch door shut with a broomhandle whilst I carefully opened it and got the hell out of there. My advice- check out your employer before you get into anything. If they have a history of not treating employees right, stay away.
  • Intel Interships (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aadain2001 (684036) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @06:44PM (#13299380) Journal
    I'm currently in my seventh(7) internship at Intel. I'm lucky and got in on a very special program that takes local high school grads and gives them internships in design/manufacturing positions during the summers while in college. You have to be in a short list of majors (all technical of course) and maintain a high GPA.

    Overall, they were great! Each year I was somewhere else, but mainly in design since that is where my interest lies. I got to work on Prescott, Cedermill a bit, etc. Great exposer to what it's like being an engineer.

    My project last summer though was the best. My supervisor didn't treat me as just a lowly intern or throw a project that he was just kind of interested in. He treated me like a coworker and had me working on his person pet project (which succeeded beyond even his wildest dreams!) and it was very challenging and rewarding.

    Intel treats its interns very well and rewards hard work. As they say around here, you get out what you put in. If you sit around not doing much and never leaving your cube (hehe, like me this summer), you don't end up doing much. But if you get out and talk to engineers and ask for work and take the initiative you get interesting work and a lot of respect.

  • This is my third summer at Sandia National Labs in New Mexico.

    Positives:
    1. Great weather.
    2. Great pay.
    3. Opens up many avenues for future employment (or so I've heard)

    No LANL scandals + no LLNL funding cuts = long-term job security, at the only lab seriously exploring the only feasible fusion production method

    Negatives:
    1. Not a lot of desk space.
    2. Shortage of windows.

    Desk space at the lab is currently in high demand, so if you're an intern, you'll likely be stuck in a borderline liveable a
  • What about reddit? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rick and Roll (672077) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @07:02PM (#13299512)
    Paul Graham provides a link to , saying it is programmed in Common Lisp. It's got to be one of his Y combinator startups. [slashdot.org]

    It's a far more interesting project than CoPilot, for two reasons. First, the people making it are actually going to own the business. Second, the thing they're making isn't scheduled for obsolence in the next three years, as CoPilot is (when MS releases Longhorn with an RA feature).

  • by ColGraff (454761) <maron1NO@SPAMmindspring.com> on Thursday August 11, 2005 @07:28PM (#13299675) Homepage Journal
    I figure that I can't be the only political science nerd on slashdot, so I'll post about some good polisci internships - my apologies if this is too far off-topc.

    I've spent the past few months interning in the Governor's Citizen Services office in New Hampshire. I'd highly recommend it for anyone in-state - you work with a good, small group of people, and much of the work is interesting. Yah, you do a lot of data-entry and phone-answering, but there's also interesting research work if you want it. I've written summaries of several state bills - I even briefed the Governor on one. The only real downside is that there is *no* possibility of getting paid - check to see if your school offers summer grants. Oh - and there often aren't enough computers to go around. Bring a laptop, get used to working in the state library, or think about "telecommuting" on research-heavy days.

    In the spring semester, I interned with COLEAD in Washington - the Coalition for American Leadership Abroad. It's a two-person advocacy group that tries to coordinate NGOs that want Congress to spend more money on foreign affairs. This is *not* a "mover and shaker* internship, but it's educational -of necessity, you end up learning a lot about NGOs and the cognressional budgetary process.
  • bad experience (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2005 @07:37PM (#13299723)
    Yup tomorrow is my last day as an intern at a pretty large(think largest) financial institute.

    I am a CS major, one semester left. Basically I am working with a team of developers and tech support(internal tech support) and my awesome summer internship consisted of waiting around for tech support to write up procedures so I could mark them up in html and post them on some crippled website. I was lucky it let me use css. The job should have taken a week max, but the ones afraid to lose their jobs by publishing their tasks streched it out to 10 weeks. About 3 weeks in I approached my manager(very hands off type of guy) and told him of the situation and asked if I could work with the developers in my many downtime hours.

    Scheduled a meeting...

    "Hey website looks great, content is key, make sure we get those procedures up"...walks away.

    So I took it upon myself to offer my services to the developers, well, the project is so far ahead of schedule, the developers have no work for even themselves.

    So, I waited out the summer, and tried to learn about my favorite new technologies, even started do top coder competitions during work.

    And for those saying get research experience, i've also had bad luck with that. Pretty much since sophomore year, I have offered my time, for free, to every professor in my department. No interest. I applied to every REU site listed, got accepted by colorado, then rejected 3 days later.

    Its not as easy as you people make it out to be.
    • Heh, chalk it up to experience.

      Now you know you don't want to work for a large organization - many of them are as screwed up as you have found.

      Remember, there is no consipiracy of pointy-haired-bosses doing this, things just kind of get that way when lots of people are involved.

      Try working for smaller companies. It might be frightening to hear about cash-flow issues (in the next room over), but in the end, you are no worse off than working for a mega-corp, with the illusion of stability. Mega-corps do

    • Re:bad experience (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dubl-u (51156) *
      intern at a pretty large(think largest) financial institute. [...] and my awesome summer internship consisted of waiting around [...] some crippled website [...] the ones afraid to lose their jobs [...] streched it out to 10 weeks.

      You may think you wasted your time. But now you have learned the impossible-to-believe truth about large companies, especially ones with very stable revenue sources. You didn't waste a summer; you saved yourself a few years plugging away at a crappy job right after graduation.
  • Highly Recommended (Score:3, Informative)

    by yellowbkpk (890493) * on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:12PM (#13299910)
    The eID program (for undergrads) at GE comes highly recommended. I've spent the last 3 summers working for the GE Healthcare company working on Java for their upcoming Java-based patient monitor.

    Had I been working on a Bachelor of SCIENCE degree instead of a BA, I could have moved on to the Edison Engineering program, a *very* prestigous post-undergrad internship program that pays you (VERY well) while you get to travel (if you want), earn 2-4 credits for a masters degree (or PhD if you already have a masters).

    If you want more information (all of this stuff isn't on GE.com for some reason), please e-mail me at: my slashdot user name @gmail.com.
  • I don't know how much this counts as a summer internship, but this past January I did an internship at Lockheed Martin and they ended up hiring me.

    I learned a lot and got some great experience. Even if they wouldn't have hired me, it would've been well worth it.

    I definately recommend them.
  • they're eager to learn, they've learnt the latest language features of Java and Python and C# from college, they're relative low-cost, they work hard and are willing to work overtime with no questions asked, and it'll also give them valuable real-world experience which will make them a much more valuable asset when they graduate and are ready to enter the work force.

    the hardest challenge i find as a manager is to balance the challenge of the work, while not overwhelming them
  • by nconway (86640) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @10:03PM (#13300456)
    I didn't intern for Microsoft this summer, but I've interned for them the past two summers, and I'd highly recommend it (especially for college students who have done some F/OSS hacking on the side, as those are exactly the kind of people I think will get a lot out of software design (SDE) intern position at MS). Perhaps the nature of the experience differs depending on the group you intern with, but I've interned with two very different groups and had enjoyable experiences both times. Also, I did a software design (SDE) internship; interning in project management or test would probably be a bit different, I'm not sure. Highlights:

    • Interesting work. Interns typically work on a single project for the summer, and you usually get a degree of choice about what to work on. Both times I was given an interesting, challenging project. The nice thing is that your project isn't usually "port some code we don't care about from Platform X to Platform Y" or similar grunt work — it's actually interesting and relevant.
    • Interesting, competent coworkers. I was pretty amazed at the quality of the full-timers at MS -- pretty much everybody I met who had a technical role was a pretty shit-hot programmer. But more important, everyone was a huge geek -- most people really loved what they were working on. That sense of enthusiasm was infectious; people actually enjoyed the work they were doing! Again, maybe it differs between product groups, but pretty much everyone I met was exactly the kind of person I'd imagine hacking F/OSS if they weren't working for MS (which is what I would have been doing, too).
    • Nice campus, good pay. All the rest was pretty good pretty good -- the MS Redmond campus is pretty nice, the pay is pretty decent, Seattle weather in the summer was nice, etc. MS hire a lot of interns every summer (in the ballpark of 700-900 in Redmond, say), so there are lots of students in the same position as you to hang out with.


    Obviously if you have a moral objection to working for Microsoft, then don't bother applying. But if that doesn't apply to you and you like hacking code, MS has been a great experience for me in the past.
  • by abiggerhammer (753022) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @10:12PM (#13300509)
    I'm one of the SoC'ers who's doing a project for Google (as opposed to, say, Apache or the Python Software Foundation), and I'm enjoying it immensely. Most of the projects people are doing this summer are geared toward well-known open source projects -- mine adds example-driven clustering and ranking to WHERE and ORDER BY clauses in PostgreSQL, for instance -- but there are also some interesting standalone projects which are closer to pure research than they are to application. It's cool to see large projects receiving support (both money and the work of smart people), but it's even cooler to see support given to small projects that might never have gotten off the ground otherwise.

    It kind of reminds me of the patronage system that existed between rich people and artists during the Renaissance. The artists (coders) get paid and have a good reason to do their very best work -- you know people are going to see the results, so you want it to be good engineering, not the rushed-together job you might do for a class where it only matters that it runs -- and the patrons get what they're paying for plus street cred.

    There have been some frustrations, mostly having to do with taxes and verification of student status, but I've really enjoyed working with my mentor (even got to visit the Google campus on a recent trip to the Bay Area -- the food is as good as their webpage claims!) and will definitely apply again if they decide to renew the program.

  • I'm currently in the second month (of six) of a software quality engineering internship at Bose, and definitely enjoying the experience more than any of my previous internships. At this point they have a large and mature internship program, so you don't get crap jobs or get swept under the rug by management. I can't say for sure whether it's the tight scheduling constraints of the project I was assigned to, or the way they usually conduct their internships, but right off the bat I had a lot of autonomy and
  • I had a few internships, and I highly recommend doing them. However, I'd advise you to ask beforehand if you can get a reference afterwards. It would never have occurred to me, if not for my experience: I worked for a large technology company one summer and it went great; I was doing pretty interesting stuff and my boss seemed really happy with what I was doing, etc. Later, I was updating my resume and asked my boss from there if I could put their name down as a reference. I was amazed to be told, "Our offi
  • I have an internship at Anheuser-Busch Fort Collins brewery and I couldn't of ask for anything better! The pay is amazing the experience is intense! I go home everyday mentally exhausted! I assist with everything from Dbase servers/Network Sys/Sys Analysis/Phon Sys/Hardware Repair/Production line/you name it I have had a chance to work with it. I would definatley recommend a internship at AB if you have the chance!

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