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Schireson says that while there's solid pay, with food, drink and candy around the office, there are limits. Ultimately, he says, "we want people attracted mostly by the workplace challenges."
Typically, interns are assigned to collaborative teams working on specific projects; a computer science student might be writing software code to make failed passcode attempts erase data, while a human resources student might be creating online learning modules for new hires.
Serial entrepreneur Jon Bischke, currently CEO of San Francisco-based Entelo, a tech recruiter, said interns better arrive ready to hustle.
"Companies in Silicon Valley are growing faster than literally any companies anywhere since the beginning of time," he said. "The energy is palpable and for people who appreciate fast-paced environments, you won't find anything faster than what's going on in Silicon Valley right now."
But there is an effort to keep hours reasonable, and many said East Coast financial sector interns work longer hours for less pay.
"We believe in paying for work and paying our interns, full stop, but we don't believe in making interns work all hours of the day unnecessarily, and think there are lessons to be learned in terms of managing time and workflow," said Google spokeswoman Meghan Casserly. Overtime is allowed, however, for projects that warrant it, she says.
Chris Crawford was 18, a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, when he landed his first internship at nearby Cupertino-based Apple. He spent the next five summers interning at Apple, two in public relations, three at iTunes.
"I love Apple technology, I'm a musician and I loved what they were doing in the music industry, and I got real life business experience there," says Crawford, who went on to launch his own startup, Loudr.fm, in 2009, an online service where musicians can sell cover songs and original music to fans, or through iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and other sites.
Now and then, he says, their little firm of eight even gets an intern.
Google's head of global staffing Kyle Ewing says the biggest misconception about their interns is that they are all computer scientists from elite universities. Instead, Google, and many other firms, have outreach programs to both diversify their workforce and provide opportunities for non-technical students.
As for the new class of interns, thousands of them, Ewing says she expects them to be tackling major challenges as they sip their sparkly water over the next three months. "Our hope is that we can offer a job to anybody who has a successful summer," she says. "We have a very, very successful pipeline."
© 2014 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.