The Idol-ized Yahoo Intern Summer

 
 
By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-08-10
 
 
 

Oh, to be young and a summer intern at Yahoo, where an easily competitive atmosphere is dampened by good management, where Fridays are reserved for community service, where executives have their doors—and ears—open at all times for new ideas.

Chen Yang, a Yahoo intern during the summer of 2006, can tell you all about it.

"I was working in the linguistic libraries, which supports internal usage of search. I was writing C++ test work whose framework could be used by the QA guys, to test for performance and efficiency," said Yang.

For Yang, working at Yahoo wasnt just about learning more about the company, but about getting to know the American workplace itself. Yang lived in Taiwan until his senior year of college, when he transferred to Stony Brook University in New York, and had never held a job in the United States before his internship. He interned at Yahoo while working on his Masters degree in computer science from New York University.

"You got a chance to see how the whole thing worked here. I didnt really have any working experience in the U.S. before Yahoo, but here I got to see how they envisioned the Internet. Without this, I would have only known these guys through their blogs," Yang said.

Click here to read more about IBMs summer interns.

At the end of the summer, Yang received an offer to work full time after he graduated. He currently works as a Technical Yahoo in the companys search marketing division. Having interned at the company, he is happy to have a greater knowledge of the Sunnyvale, Calif., company and its workings than he would have without it. He still sees his old manager regularly.

"My manager was very nice to me, so much more than a manager. We always talked about what was going on, and he always followed up with me. He helped me figure out the whole process, not just the internship," said Yang.

His manager was able to create an atmosphere in which interns were excited to work hard, but not in a cutthroat competition with one another, a sentiment expressed by interns in other highly sought-after internships.

"I didnt feel pressure, but that was really thanks to my manager. I really felt that people were really listening to my ideas," he said.

Yangs favorite part of his summer was the program itself, which was filled with opportunities to meet executives and learn more about the company. "The internship was not just a chance to see Yahoos environment, but to see the whole industry," he said.

Knowing that their summer internship culture is often described as "foosball and free lunch," Yahoo makes a point to ensure that their interns work on real-world projects as well. Students are also encouraged to volunteer on Fridays throughout the summer.

Still, like many interns with highly-coveted positions, Yang said that the internship experience—with its hippity hop races, belly dancers, baseball games and water balloon fights—was a bit more glamorous than the everyday employee experience, something he knows from seeing both sides. "It was really better than full-time," he mused.

"We had a great program. We have a lot of speeches from different executives during the whole program, and you were free to join talks about research. Plus, there were free game tickets," he said.

Nevertheless, Yang was quick to note that the interns this summer are having an even cooler activity than his class did: Yahoo Intern American Idol.

"We have an intern here on my team and it turns out the winner gets an iPhone. I want to take part in it so badly, but they say its only for current interns," said Yang. "Its just as well, I guess. Im a terrible singer."

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