Google Interns Log Valuable On-the-Job Experience

From unusual conference bikes to dog-friendly offices, Google interns have interesting stories to take back to school after they complete their internships.

Google Internship

It's apparently not just a 9-to-5 job being a Google intern. Instead of a mundane workplace with routine tasks, low energy and a "can't wait until 5 o'clock" mindset, Google interns have a wide assortment of unique things that seem to keep their internships from being anything but ordinary.

That's the conclusion of Isabel Baylor and Maggie Hohlfeld, two members of Google's intern and university programs team, who wrote a list of "8 unexpected things about being a Google intern." The list, posted Aug. 14 on the Google Student Blog, made it very clear that Google interns take some pretty interesting experiences back to school with them after their internships are over.

So what are the unexpected things in the lives of Google interns?

The first, wrote Baylor and Hohlfeld, is that Google interns work on real projects. "Interns work on high-level, cutting-edge projects—no photocopying for hours or retrieving coffee here!" they explained. "Our interns work on everything from Chrome OS, Google Docs, Google X, and YouTube. A lot of interns who come back to work in full-time roles at Google are surprised to see that the code they created as interns still exists and is being put to use. "

Another surprise is that there is "so much food" interns can consume while they are working, they wrote. "It's true—interns, along with all other Googlers, receive free meals and snacks every day. That's right, free breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Our cafe staff even has to double the amount of food during the summer months to accommodate our growing population of interns. There are around 1.2 million meals served per year worldwide!"

Then there are the "conference bikes," which are strange, multi-wheeled contraptions with seats for up to seven riders who sit in circle on the "bikes" and pedal and move while talking and collaborating. "We celebrate collaboration more than anything at Google—even when it comes to pedaling a bike!" wrote Baylor and Hohlfeld. "Interns get a chance to work with their teammates by participating in groups, team outings, and conference bike meetings! Every person on the conference bike has to contribute to making the bike move, so there is no way to sit quietly through this meeting."

Also intriguing for Google interns is the parade of guest speakers who are often showing up on the company's campus, they wrote. "This summer Google NY had the cast of Marvel's latest movie, "Guardians of the Galaxy," swing by for a Q&A! Not to mention our past visitors, such as Arianna Huffington, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Colbert, and the Parks and Recreation cast. There's always someone fascinating visiting Google!"

People aren't the only guests, however. "Google offices are dog-friendly so you'll see quite a few canines running around the office," they wrote. "The London office even has a Wall of Fame for a few of the 'Dooglers' who visit the office regularly."

And if the conference bikes don't run you over, there's always possible danger from a foot-operated two-wheeled scooter that's flying down a hallway, they wrote. "Our New York office spans an entire city block, which means getting from one meeting to the next can be a little tricky. Hence the scooters! Interns learn quickly how to balance their laptops while scootering around the office."

Also unique for interns at Google is the amazing collection of co-workers who are always around for mentoring, talking and sharing experiences, according to Baylor and Hohlfeld. "From the head of Search, Amit Singhal, to the head of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, to Peter Norvig, co-author of 'Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach,' Google is full of exceptionally smart people from all over the world and from a number of different universities and backgrounds," they wrote. "One of the most valuable aspects of the Google internship is access to these amazing Googlers."