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Summer Internships - The Good, and the Bad?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | 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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Open Source? (2, Informative)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298813)

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.

Re:Open Source? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298922)

OK, and you did what?

Re:Open Source? (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299197)

Validation on a free online learning library for the NSF.

Re:Open Source? (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299176)


Re:Open Source? (2, Informative)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299237)

I was just trying to point out that the first line of the article, "this has been a spectacular summer for open-source student internships," was followed by three examples, only one of which (Google's) was an example of an "open source student internship." In fact Paul Graham's aren't even internships.

Re:Open Source? (1)

gid13 (620803) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299208)

Whoever modded this offtopic is an idiot.

Re:Open Source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13299252)

The VNC client (copilot helper) is GPL and they released source (based on TightVNC)

Re:Open Source? (1)

cookie23 (555274) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299308)

At least VNC viewer portion seems to be under GPL. They have the source code up for download in the FAQ []

But the vnc viewer portion doesn't seem to actually compile in Visual Studio 6. Complains about missing files (SessionDialog.cpp, LoginAuthDialog.cpp, ConnectingDialog.cpp, Daemon.cpp, AuthDialog.cpp, ClientConnectionFile.cpp, and atlenc.h for me). Can anyone get it to compile?

lol (-1, Offtopic)

oxxiox (872422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298814)

first post

The Y Combinator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298823)

So it brings together people who have Y chromosomes? I thought we'd moved beyond such sexism!

Re:The Y Combinator? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298830)

Maybe they had mono...

Re:The Y Combinator? (1)

Swamii (594522) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298891)

The Mono jokes are getting old now.

Internships are great (4, Interesting)

smoondog (85133) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 [] - The outdoor Wiki

Re:Internships are great (1)

_DangerousDwarf (210835) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299244)

I read that NSF at the start, and research at the end, and pondered what exactly were you researching at that porn site! ;)

I originally parsed NSF as not safe for work!

Interning overseas (4, Funny)

Carthag (643047) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298847)

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.

Oh, and (1)

Carthag (643047) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299010)

if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll try to answer them.

Intern at Sun Microsystems (3, Informative)

Thinthalion (906989) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Intern at Sun Microsystems-Swing.look and fee ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13299204)


You were working with the Java Swing team on the look and feel stuff ?! Didn't you realize that 'swing' and 'look and feel' shouldn't be used in the same sentence ? Java on the desktop is dead because of stuff like Swing.

Swing makes Java blow. The whole Swing project should have been shelved a long time ago and the whole time publicly fired and humiliated for providing such an ass of a 'look and feel'.

Re:Intern at Sun Microsystems-Swing.look and fee ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13299275)

well it kinda makes sense that they are working on it then, numbnuts.

Your Mom's Internship (-1, Troll)

LamerX (164968) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298850)

I sure enjoyed the internship your mom gave me. Kept me busy all day long! OOOHH BURRN!

Re:Your Mom's Internship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298882)

come on guys, that was pretty funny.

or maybe i'm just a sucker for "your mom" jokes...

Huh? Mom died a few years back... (-1, Offtopic)

GeneralEmergency (240687) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298972)

That must have been my Dad!


Summer of Code Pays Off (1)

lakerdonald (825553) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298856)

When you're funding 200 projects for only a few bucks apiece, you end up with a potential slew of product for a very minimal investment.
The same goes for summer internships -- you might end up with a brilliant idea, and it costs you next to nothing.

Re:Summer of Code Pays Off (3, Informative)

chrisd (1457) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298927)

Uh, that's 419 projects at $4500 a piece (plus $500 per student to the mentoring organization). That's not next to nothing and it is not a minimal investment, that's 2 million+

And that's a crapton of open source software.


Re:Summer of Code Pays Off (1)

lakerdonald (825553) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298943)

I obviously haven't been paying attention... heh I could have sworn that it was 200 projects and a few hundred bucks when I first read about it... Oh well. I take that back...Summer of Code sucks.

Re:Summer of Code Pays Off (1)

VE3MTM (635378) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299334)

How's that going? I was one of the rejected applicants, so I'm curious how the acceptees are doing. I was expecting more news on about it.

Any interesting stories you want to share?

Re:Summer of Code Pays Off (1)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299355)

But if 25% of those projects make some major gain, that's only $20,000 a project. That's not really all that expensive, to get work done which "normally" wouldn't have gotten done, or would have taken far longer. In addition, this has been a nice bit of publicity for a lot of projects, and overall a nice community effort.

It seems like there's been a ton of communication between participants and the orgs they are working with, and that can only help everyone involved. Not to mention that there are now probably a hundred more people who will feel confident contributing (for free) to OS projects in the future, and who have the knowledge and skills to help out.

So congradulations to all who participated. I'm looking forward to being able to use all the nifty things you got to make on your summer break. Yeah, I'm jealous...

Summer TV (5, Funny)

FrankTheCrazy (694812) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 (2, Insightful)

solodex2151 (700977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298858)

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.

Avoid Cheap Labor Factories (5, Insightful)

guaigean (867316) | more than 8 years ago | (#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!

Re:Avoid Cheap Labor Factories (3, Insightful)

Herr Joebob (716476) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299078)

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... :)

Re:Avoid Cheap Labor Factories (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13299182)

Look at the positive. It means you were able to do a lot of work, and get a lot of experience that you wouldn't have gotten in the permanent staff did more labor.

At the internship level, you shouldn't be complaining about the pay, and enjoying and treasuring the experience. That's what is going to get you the money in the future.

Re:Avoid Cheap Labor Factories (1)

guaigean (867316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299264)

At the internship level, you shouldn't be complaining about the pay, and enjoying and treasuring the experience.

You're correct, the pay wasn't as important. But when you're getting paid significantly less, and working significantly more, it can be a bit frustrating. But if it wasn't an internship, I probably would have moved on from such a company quickly.

On the other hand.. (2, Insightful)

MAdMaxOr (834679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299235)

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.

What nonsense ? These aren't internships ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298885)

These aren't even close to half-decent internships. Google summer of code paid out a handful of students. That's it. It wasn't an internship. It is exploitation. Paying people very little money and getting more done from them.

Y Combinator is some kind of an investing firm...and seems very suspicious to me. Joel Spolsky hired four interns and it made slashdot ! Puhleez. As much as you hate it, the best and the most sought after internships are at Microsoft, which hires 800 interns every year and then hires most of them full-time.

Re:What nonsense ? These aren't internships ! (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299085)

It wasn't an internship. It is exploitation.

How so? Most students don't have any practical experience, and this gave them a chance to get some working on a real project. If they finished, they got paid- quite a bit more than if they were to work on a FOSS project by themselves.

Re:What nonsense ? These aren't internships ! (2, Insightful)

badmammajamma (171260) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299091)

"Google summer of code paid out a handful of students. That's it. It wasn't an internship. It is exploitation. Paying people very little money and getting more done from them."

The purpose of internships is for the interns to learn something working in a real world environment. They may only have the few skills they learned while in college and certainly aren't worth being paid much (as a rule of thumb). So, in a sense, almost all internships are exploitation by your definition.

Oh, and there are many many college students that have no interest whatsoever in working at Microsoft (because they have a conscience). Finally, IBM hires about twice as many interns per year as Microsoft (and they are actually paid pretty decently). So stick that up your micrsmurf pipe and smoke it.

Re:What nonsense ? These aren't internships ! (2, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299283)

Oh, and there are many many college students that have no interest whatsoever in working at Microsoft (because they have a conscience).

You forgot to mention the fact that they're also naive as hell, too. There are few grown-ups in this day & age that would turn down a Microsoft job. Times are tough, and only the wealthy (in both time and money) can afford to have a conscience.

And if you think that IBM is a shiny, happy company, then I've got a story to tell you about when I worked there about 10 years ago and had to ask to go to the bathroom.

"even new packages for Common Lisp" - hey! (4, Informative)

starseeker (141897) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298886)

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 : []
This is a high powered proof assistant and IIRC was used by AMD to verify some parts of their chip design.

Maxima: []
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: []
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 [] for many of them. And if you want to code lisp remember to explore SLIME+Emacs.

Re:"even new packages for Common Lisp" - hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298968)

I read Metamagical Themas in highschool one day and that started my road to learning LISP. My freshman year in college, I was stuck in remedial math 101 ("You're Pre-Vet, all you'll ever need is to count the number of bones in the cat, and no, you can't test out of the class so don't waste your time") got bored with my homework one day and managed to write a defun for clisp to do my integration and derivation homework for me. (50 problems. Would have taken me half an hour to do by hand.) Spent the rest of the day in clisp, and probably one hour converting all the problems to prefix notation. When I was done, I had a function that could do fairly simple integration and derivation both numerically (by looping and substituting 'x with a number and evaluating the expression) and symbolically by actually identifying the operators and behaving as necessary.

Even though it only handled simple polynomials (sorry, no chain rule ;), that was the proudest moment of my life up until that point. Switched majors to CS the next year ;)

Morgue? (1)

FlameTroll (901932) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298906)

Now that's an internship to avoid for as long as possible.

Re:Morgue? (2, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298949)

I believe you mean you don't want to inter there...

Watch those suffexes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298971)

Now that's an internship to avoid for as long as possible.

That's internment

Small Software Company Internship (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298908)

I had an internship at a small software company (100 employees) this summer, and I highly recommend going that route. I had a close working relationship with several veteran engineers, and was able to learn a great deal of programming tricks/tips because of it. It was also a nice introduction to the corporate environment, without being too much of a shock (with a smaller company they can afford to be a little more lax on policy).
Best of all, they actually put me to work doing something useful, instead of on a "special" intern program.
Overall a very positive experience; a great deal was learned, I got to do some worthwhile coding, and I had a lot more support/help than I expected.

Any SCO interns out there? (1)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298909)

Let's hear your stories!

Re:Any SCO interns out there? (2, Funny)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298966)

No, those would be law school interns, not CS or EE typ interns...

Re:Any SCO interns out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13299060)

Nobody works on that obsolete operating system anymore. SCO is just a litigation company now.

You wanted an intern? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13299120)

Actually, things are quite pleasant. They're giving stock options which should be quite valuable soon - just some legal trivia they have to work out. I get a discounted computer, which runs windows, I just vnc into the *nix boxes.

All I have to do work-wise is integrate linux code into our kernel and occasionally help with the inevitable "this code works in ___ OSS package, why doesn't it work with the kernel". Of course, they typically just hose up when they integrate the cut pieces from the OSS package. ;)

Three words.... (1)

novakane007 (154885) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298912)

Make Work Project!

Re:Three words.... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298959)

$ make work project
make: *** No rule to make target `work'. Stop.

Avoid (1)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298918)

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 (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298944)

But being a lifegaurd sure beats being a Dell intern!!

Re:Avoid (2, Insightful)

AnotherPoster (793438) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299213)

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 if you're studying electrical engineering, see if you can get a position focusing on computer science. Maybe try out a consulting company. Focus on something that will enrich you -- not because it makes your resume stronger, but because it exposes you to what you typically don't see in class.

If you like it, fantastic. You've found something new that interests you, and if you choose, you can guide yourself towards that field. If you hate it, who cares? In three months it's over. At least you tried something new.

Re:Avoid (2, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299330)

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). The next year I was graduating and I was getting ready to call them and find out if I could do it again since I wasn't having any luck finding a job. They called me first. Money ran out in 2.5 months again. They kept me on at $12.50/hour. A few months later I was highered as a full time employee with benefits and all.

Low paying internships can turn into full time jobs. So yes, definitely take any internship in your field. Even if it only pays minimum wage (or even nothing at all in some cases).

Internship (1)

lateralus_1024 (583730) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298925)

I thought I was getting a simple internship about 5 years ago when I joined a start-up. I was asked to do some informal software testing. A few weeks into it, I got a big pay increase and was asked to put in more hours. They were flexible and would let me come in any time of the day and the sr.programmers would help me with CS homework too. Free diet cokes too. That internship turned into a full time job and made school a part time thing. It took me forever to finish my CS degree, but I think I made the right choice. I learned Windows development there and moved on to bigger things even before I had my BS. I think it could've gone bad had I quit school (with all the frenzy at the time) but I'm glad I didn't. I always tell interns at our company to not get lazy and just chill on the Net while their here. They need to be pro-active in trying to get involved with the real-world problem solving that is around them...instead of focusing everything on class projects. Now I'll sit in on some interviews for jr.level developer positions and I'll quickly be able to tell who spent real time interning, and who didn't. Ofcourse I was fortunate in that I didn't get stuck interning at some place that made me create crossover cables for 3 months. Just my 2 cents.

The Good, the bad... (1, Offtopic)

sconeu (64226) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298947)

The Good: Clint Eastwood
The Bad: Lee Van Cleef
The Ugly: Eli Wallach

Internship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298955)

I'm doing an internship at IBM this summer and its been a lot of fun. I'm only going to be a 2nd year in college, but they have me coding and doing the same type of things as regular employees. Internships are highly worthwhile because of the experience you gain.

Sandia National Labs (2, Interesting)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298958)

Tomorrow will be the last day of my 5th summer internship at Sandia Labs [] . 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 time once I graduate. It's a very laid back environment here. You can pretty much come in whenever you want, and leave when ever you want. My manager was really cool, he never got on my case about anything. It's operated by the federal government so you know they are gonna push back the deadline for projects almost every time. The catch is to get a job at Sandia, you usually need some contacts working on the inside for you. If you can your foot in the door with Sandia, you will most likely be in good hands.

Re:Sandia National Labs (2, Funny)

Mindwarp (15738) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299178)

Ladies and gentlemen, your tax dollars at work! :)

Oooo! I got one! (1)

shirameroix (595121) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298963)

Microsoft! Highly recommended.

Re:Oooo! I got one! (0, Flamebait)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299201)

You didn't know?
95% of their software is written by interns, 4% of their software actually works.

Big Four (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298969)

Last summer, I did a penetration testing internship with the one of the Big Four's consulting groups. We were paid very well, learned tons on the job, and spent the final week at Disney for "training". Oh, and we got to break into our clients' networks :) It was an all-around awesome summer.

There were also groups who worked with security policies, identity management, data forensics, etc...

(Full Disclosure: I now work there full time)

Re:Big Four (1)

jolande (852630) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299035)

I did a penetration testing internship
Wow! Count me in on that.

NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298974)

Best internship I've had? NSA's Gifted and Talented [] program.

not all internships are through Google (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298977)

I spent my summer working on Swift [] at Los Alamos National Laboratory. They pay very nicely for undergraduates, and a lot of the work to be done here is not classified that vastly improves your employability and resume. [] is how to apply to Los Alamos for next summer.

The best way in, however, is to poke around [] and find a project that interests you, contact the person in charge, and see if they're willing/have the money to take on a student. The student programs here are absolutely fantastic and it's a long standing tradition of training the next generation of scientists/engineers during the summer.

My entire life has changed because of my experiences at LANL. I've met the leaders in the gamma ray burst field, started feeling out graduate schools, published about 10 papers, and I still have 2 years until I graduate!

Seriously, I love my work, I love my job, and my summer was amazing. I just want more people to know about this opportunity.

Linuxbox (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298986)

I have an internship (for another week) at The Linux Box ( 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.

Re:Linuxbox (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299199)

I've walked by that place many times in Ann Arbor, and I never knew it was an actual software development house. I assumed it was purely a *nix IS consulting firm sorta deal. Nice to know there's some real open source development going on here in A2.

Summer for for a professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13298989)

I worked this summer under a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology's Computer Science dept. It was great. If your a student i highly reccomend doing this!! i found it to be quite interesting and great experience.

Summer research (3, Informative)

qx128 (542315) | more than 8 years ago | (#13298992)

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.

Re:Summer research (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299096)

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.

No specific recommendations, but... (2, Informative)

themoodykid (261964) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299000)

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.

On finding challenging tasks (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299161)

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 dot-com days :) Whole thing worked out well for me, although i just quit them to pursue a consulting position.

Re:On finding challenging tasks (1)

themoodykid (261964) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299231)

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.

Depends on the group sponsoring the internship (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13299009)

As a summer intern my own personal experiences have been invaluable, this is not always the case. Certain things I have found that contribute to the internship experience are, personal drive and abilitiy, most people don't have time to be a babysitter and show you how to do every mundane detail. Another factor is the sponsoring group of the internship and their attitudes toward the internship.

Here is an example of what I mean; One of my class mates and I were chatting a few weeks ago, he has been stuck installing deskjet printers and sharing them for an internship because of several factors, he isnt overly self motivated or experienced, and the organization does not trust him with tasks beyond that. Conversely there was my experience I went into the intership with a year of Active Directory management experience and a CCNA right out of high school. This helped establish a level of trust at the organization that I was capable and could be trusted. I am entering the final two weeks of the summer and have just finished implementing an infrastructure upgrade that I researched designed and tested.

In summary, be qualified and knowledgeable for the kind of work you are interested in performing. Also carefully chose the organization you want to intern at based on resources and size of staff, being the sole staff member can be as bad as being a mailcart pusher. Also working with poor hardware due to lack of budget can hinder your experience. The corporate culture matters as well, find an organization that will let you grow as you need to rather than hold you back because of a lack of experience.

NASA Robotics Internship (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299012)

I got accepted to NASA's first Robotics Internship Program, based out of Goddard Space Flight Center around Greenbelt, MD. After a 10 week stay, tomorrow's our last day, and we'll be giving final presentations on the projects we've worked on.

I got to help with the design and implementation of a computer vision system eventually to be used on the TetWalker (previously featured on /.) among other robots. We worked with an IR range imager, a pretty cool off-the-shelf gadget that can be described as a black-and-white 3D camera. Several companies make them, in case anyone's interested, but they're a bit pricey. In any case, we ended up with a wheeled rover prototype capable of decent obstacle avoidance in a variety of lighting conditions after 30 man-weeks of work.

All I've got to say about the Robotics Internship Program is it kicks serious ass. I learned more here than I do in a year of school, plus I actually got to do something interesting. They're planning on expanding the Program beyond just Goddard next year, I think to JPL, Ames, and Johnson, -I think-. In any case, NASA has -lots- of internship programs available to students in a really wide age range. They even sponsor robotics activities for K-12 age kids that I had no idea about (google first robotics, botball robotics, etc).

In other words, I'd definitely do it again. And I would've done it sooner had I known about how seriously NASA invests in educational programs.

Try getting hired! (1)

Eunuch (844280) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299019)

I was looking for some internships and got a full-time engineering job (I'm at it right now) with a startup. Purely through networking with my teacher. Go figure. But I was doing masters.

Co-op (1)

sirReal.83. (671912) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299048)

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. :)

Big companies can be a bit inflexible (5, Interesting)

koreth (409849) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Big companies can be a bit inflexible (0, Offtopic)

koreth (409849) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299081)

My last couple years of in college

Where I was clearly not majoring in English...

Other options (1)

yaneurabeya (855226) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299064)

True. Internships are wonderful things but there are other options available besides that (at least if you're at a 4 year institution like me and are in a semi-science related field)...

Research projects - This will provide you with other means to accomplish your goals and maybe further your interests beyond where you currently are at. Who ever knew that that robotics vision recognition project or P2P software project (2 projects that were given at my school to CS/EE majors) could look so good on a resume, would help you get contacts with faculty for grad school and possibly pay for things as well as help you earn credit towards your degree?

Co-ops - Although it's not really something I'm looking for because I'm up to my neck in earned credits (pre-high school community college program - Running Start for anyone that knows..), it is another available alternative to internships. Sure, you might have to pay some money and write a paper, but you get paid in return most of the time and get credit for your work.

Just a thought. But yeah.. doing either an internship, co-op, or participating in a research project is important in order to advance in many business pertinent fields nowadays. Employers want to see someone who got more than their cap and gown.. they want to see potential, interest and experience.

Missing option: (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299065)

Missing option:

The Ugly!

Re:Missing option: (0, Flamebait)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299241)

The ugly: not getting an internship at all. Unless you're female or an underrepresented minority (black, hispanic), getting a science/engineering internship is hard. That's on top of the fact that most companies weren't hiring much at all, interns or fulltime employees. Hopefully next year will be better for those of us who lucked out this summer.

Re:Missing option: (1)

Quantum Skyline (600872) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299292)

What? Dude...its hard even if you are a minority, especially given the amount of applications done online where some parser reads your resume and interviews done over the phone. I'm one of those minorities you mention and it was damn hard. And guess what? I could count the amount of people from my ethnic group on one hand. There was over 2500 people there. I'll concede that internships are shrinking, but don't make it seem like minorities have it easy. From what I've seen, most who get internships are working three times as hard as the other applicants.

Summer Internships (2, Funny)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299076)

So they have started providing airfare to India for summer internships? Wow...

Begged For An Intern (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299128)

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.

Re:Begged For An Intern (1)

hobbesx (259250) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299226)

...and the fact that MS hired the decent local talent it did not go well. ... Can't compete with the big companies.

Is it all that bad in India already? Sheesh, you'd think it would've been a few years at least...

Possible HP internship advice (1)

yaneurabeya (855226) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299133)

Oh, I did hear that doing an EE internship with HP at their Corvallis, OR facility was pretty simple, but also very uneventful and not as frutiful as one might expect. A friend of mine complains about it being boring and simple, as he and the other interns aren't expected to really do much. I heard similar points from a CS major that did another internship with HP as well.

Research Research Research! (1)

FreshFunk510 (526493) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299134)

(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 the experience itself will pay off.

The reason why it's such a great experience is that you'll work on interesting projects and the latest stuff. It's also a good opportunity to build contacts within your CS department should you need recommendations, etc. After you've contributed for a couple months, typically professors will find a way to get you some money as a part of work-study.

Personally, my summer internship turned into part-time research year around. It's probably the most interesting work I've ever done since you're actually doing research. It was an opportunity to do something really challenging. The goals are typically more groundbreaking.

Plus, this experience will help if you either 1) are looking for a job or 2) apply to grad school. It also helps you figure out what you want to do later on for a career or further CS studies.

Yes, talk to your teacher! (1)

Eunuch (844280) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299189)

I got hired almost entirely through networking (and impressing) my prof. He's exceptional though--many industry contacts.

my two cents (1)

tempny (602740) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299137)

I just landed an intenship for the IAEA doing .NET development, in Vienna. ( [] ) Can't say much about it yet, I start in a few weeks. Has anyone else worked for the IAEA or the UN and lived abroad, and if so, what was it like? I've spent my entire life in New York and have no idea what working with an entirely linguistically diverse and all-over-the-world team is going to be like, but I'm definetily looking forward to it.

A little off the normal path (1)

gravteck (787609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299153)

I'm finishing up a unique internship next week. I'm an intern working for Proctor & Gamble. I work with a Bioscience group doing web development and creating custom database solutions. The basic role of the group is technology solicitation. There are 6 directors based in 6 areas of the world, The Americas, Central Europe/Africa/Middle East, London/UK/Russia/Baltics, India/Singapore, China/Taiwan/South Korea/Japan, and Australia/Ireland/NZ. I work with brilliant biochemists and neuroscientists, the Chinese guy I work with got a PhD in Biochem and also his MD in China. He's now finishing up his MBA at UChicago. Anyway the group goes around the world traveling to Biotech conferences, forming partnerships and alliances, yada yada yada. The interest in the group grows, but they as a team don't. They needed some kind of infrastructure to streamline their work process and make it much more seamless. I've developed their website that is going to go live in late October. It has a high usability factor, and it it's real achievemant is the specificity of needs to which it allows the external world to view. Obviously it would be a loss in competetive advantage if all these needs were published. So I developed a custom database solution based in XML/SOAP/WS/XSDL that allows for all of their needs to be tagged with meta-data, and this meta data can be vetted, viewed, and filtered logically by internal parties, but only allows the outside world to see it if their technology cross references with the meta-data sufficiently. Interest in the site has grown exponentially. Many groups within P&G want to adapt it to their needs internally and externally. We even had the leader of the team who developed P&G's main solicitation interface for the external world come and try to tell us that we need to use their system, but then when I demo'd it and explained all it's capabilities, they told my boss that they wanted to use ours! It's been great working with brilliant scientists, because even though they know nothing about IT, they were able to get me in touch with the IT component of the company to provide mentors and guidance as to what kind of tech I had at my disposal. The only downside is that I didn't get to work with a formal team in a development cycle, all the protocycling was my own, and it will be reviewed and probably refactored if need be by the IT guys when I'm gone. Anyway, I highly recomment finding a job out of the mainstream, I love what I do.

Re:A little off the normal path (1)

gravteck (787609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299196)

Oh yea, and I saw some posts on here about exploitation based on wage and working hours. So I will add that I was on salary (680/week), usually worked 35 hours a week, so that comes out to the yearly equivalent of about 35 grand. I wouldn't call that exploitation, especially with the modest standard of living in Cincinnati (luckily I could stay with my parents and live 8 minutes from work), especially when my company also gives job offers to 80% of its interns.

FogCreek Interns to Filmed (1)

bigbinc (605471) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299162)

The FogCreek Intern program is the best, the interns were filmed during the software development process.

In the end, aardvark will be an interesting project. It is clear that the software companies are focused on training young talent. It would be nice if the other large IT shops would follow suit.

Longer internships (1)

Quantum Skyline (600872) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299186)

If your school allows it, I'd recommend a 12 or 16 month internship. You won't get tiny jobs or (as much) busy work, and if its in your home town, you can live at home and save tons of money. Some Ontario universities call it a PEY(Professional Experience Year). I did mine at IBM in Markham.

You'll also get a very good idea of if what you're doing is really for you. During my internship, I decided that doing graduate school was better for me right now. This is the most important thing - if you can do it for one year, can you do it for a career? (If you decide its not, don't make my mistake and tell people that it isn't.)

Finally, if you work in a big company, you'll see how politics *really* works. I got handed a hot potato project that caused all kinds of problems for three different teams. It nearly got me fired because of all the power plays (none of which were my fault, if you believe me) and I'm still bitter, but I don't regret my time there.

FreeBSD. (1)

Anonymous Cumshot (859434) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299190)

There were plenty of proposed enhancements [] for FreeBSD. So far, I haven't heard a single progress update regarding any of these. Is there a deadline or similar required completion date? It would really be great to see a few of these in FreeBSD (such as UFS journalling, for example). What happened?

If you get an internship... (1)

ls-lta (681694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299250)

Act professionally regardless of how much you aren't being paid. Consider each person you work closely with to be a potential reference - they are. Work hard: don't surf or IM. Especially don't go to forbidden slashdot. Also, if you fubar something, admit it freely and describe what you did as best you can.

National Instruments (1)

jaxdahl (227487) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299254)

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 positions and learned more than I did in 4 years of college and had a pretty awesome time here.

I'm in one right now! (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299260)

Along with that blog I have (see link below) that no one reads!

Seriously though, they are NOT easy to find, good job /. on linking up to maybe a few dozen positions there. Summer internships are a PAIN, as there are no one (or even two, or three) organized listings of them, and every company seems to hire at a different time. For instance Boeing hires summer interns starting around September and October, where as other companies have interviews in January and February, and a lot of companies, if you call them anytime before June, they say you are too early they have not even begun to think of those things yet!

Oh, for reference, the BEST source of summer internships is just to post your resume up on Craigslist and say you are looking for work as an Intern, I got 3 offers within one week that way. Up until that point I had tried using numerous free (for student) intern-based employment agencies, including Campus Point, umm, they all suck. See almost every company has someone in HR that reads CL, but for any given employment agency, only a few (relative to the overall number of companies out there) companies are signed up with that particular agency.

As for how the internship is going, rather well. I have my own nice sized office, lots of free food and drink, and the work isn't bad either. The coolest part would have to be seeing how much more advanced the stuff used in industry is over the crud they teach us in school. Of course the most depressing part is seeing how messed up the stuff used in industry is as well!

The $$$ is nice, as is making contacts with people so I can hopefully get another internship next summer. That has to be the most valuable part, the communication with people who have been working the field for their entire life.

My GF got a better deal than me though, (and no offense to the guys I work with, you are all great!), she got put in a Unix shop, I am in a Windows shop! Doh!

(as much as I rant and rave against *nix, I DO like it! :)

I would really like to continue on here for another 3 months (they offered) but of course I had to prelease an apartment for this coming school year back in June as well. Bleck.

The Bad (4, Interesting)

dj245 (732906) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299353)

I'm studying ME and did an internship in a Power station [] . I think this picture [] 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 (4, Interesting)

Aadain2001 (684036) | more than 8 years ago | (#13299380)

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.

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