Colleges around the country are winding down their academic years, and in just a few weeks, hordes of tech interns will descend upon Silicon Valley. They’re already combing Airbnb and Craigslist for housing, trying to align apartment locations with corporate shuttle schedules, and to decide if they need kitchen privileges or if it’s really true that they’ll eat of all their meals at work—for free.
Right now, job site Indeed reports that intern listings are healthy (although most recruiting for summer spots happens the previous autumn). According to Indeed, the companies with the most STEM internships open are, in alphabetical order: Adobe, Bio-Rad, Chegg, Coinbase, eBay, Facebook, FormFactor, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Kaiser Permanente, KLA-Tencor, Lockheed Martin, Lumentum Operations, Oath (formerly Yahoo), Salesforce, Sandia National Laboratories, SAP, ServiceNow, Shutterfly, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Synopsis, Visa, and VMWare.
Overall, the Bay Area’s STEM internships are 12.6 percent of the U.S. total, according to Indeed’s numbers. The New York metro area comes in second place with 6.9 percent and Los Angeles is third with 4.2 percent. The company declined to release the total number of STEM internships currently posted.
The hiring process itself is long—and very competitive; in the past, Google, for example, received some 40,000 applications for 2,000 spots.
Facebook says its interns “help build the next generation of systems behind Facebook's products, create web applications that reach millions of people, build high-volume servers, and be a part of a team that’s working to help connect people around the globe.”
Google breaks internships into a variety of categories, including software engineering, hardware engineering, mechanical engineering, and user experience. The company pitches its software engineering internship program, for example, as offering “personal and professional development, executive speaker series, and community-building….an opportunity to work on complex computer science solutions, develop scalable, distributed software systems and also collaborate on multitudes of smaller projects that have universal appeal.”
Apple says interns “work on critical projects, in the U.S. and around the world. As part of the Apple community, [they] get a unique perspective on our process and those who lead it.”
Adobe promises “no fetching coffee or making copies” and “plenty of playtime, with contests, hikes, and get-to-know-your-city outings.”
In addition to the general internships, some companies have special internships for underrepresented minorities, like Google’s BOLD program and Facebook University.
What’s it like to be a Silicon Valley intern? It’s a pretty amazing experience, according to an unscientific sample of former interns I’ve spoken with (that is, my friends’ children). You can get a sense of it from these quotes from Facebook interns, or these from Google interns, or this blog post that details one intern’s job at Facebook—as well as the best of the free food.
The work can be intense—but the pay and perks are off the charts. According to job site Glassdoor, last year Facebook’s summer interns made $8,000 a month, Google’s interns made $6,000 a month, and Salesforce’s interns made $6,450 a month. And these numbers don’t include what is generally a generous housing allowance—and a bicycle.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.