I had my first experience with hiring a summer intern this summer. It turned out to be a great experience, but I credit this to the fact that I work with a great team and our intern was a stellar young guy. I realized that I need to have a plan for future internships. First though, I need to clarify my philosophy of internships. In other words, I have to answer the question… Why have summer internships?
Summer interns make great hires. What better or more thorough interview process than working with someone for three months? Finding and eventually hiring great developers is reason enough to have an internship program.
At the end of the summer, those interns will go back to school. That is where many of tomorrow’s great developers are hanging out. What better way to reach those future developers than to send students back to school having had a fantastic experience at your company?
A summer internship gives your developers an opportunity to have a positive influence on future developers. Even your most junior developers get to become mentors to an intern. Giving back in this way reinforces the value that software development is a profession and we are professionals. Taking the time to invest in the career of a young software developer is one way to separate professional developers from hackers.
Getting Work Done
I put this last because I think it is the least important of the list, but you just might find that that your interns do some really great work. My team was fortunate enough to have such a great young developer this summer that the work he contributed to was outstanding. Fresh perspective and ideas can be very valuable to a team.