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Silicon Valley's interns enjoy perk-filled summer

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California--Sitting in a kitchen stocked with free food, a handful of 20-something Google summer interns weigh their favorite perks, but where to begin? With bikes, buses, massages, swimming pools, dance classes, nap pods, parties and access to their tech heroes, it's a very long list.

“Unlimited sparkling water?” someone says.

In the end, however, the budding Googlers are most excited about the work.

“The project I'm working on is super high impact, and I'm looking for ways to make my mark,” says Rita DeRaedt, 20, studying visual communication technology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She admitted to being a bit star-struck after she was assigned to a team headed by a designer she's long admired.

With summer's arrival comes an influx of thousands of Silicon Valley interns who are well paid and enjoy many perks. The young up-and-comers from around the world who successfully navigate the competitive application process are assigned big time responsibility at firms such as Google, Facebook, Dropbox and Twitter.

Silicon Valley tech firms pay their interns more than any other sector in the U.S., according to a Top 25 list of 2014 intern pay by online career website Glassdoor.

Palantir Technologies, a Palo Alto-based cybersecurity firm, topped the list with US$7,012 average monthly base pay. Also on the list: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, eBay, Google and Apple, all of which pay more than US$5,000 a month, or US$60,000 annually if these were full time jobs.

And that's not counting the perks, which at Facebook even include housing in this high rent region.

Executives hope that a fun and stimulating summer will motivate them to come back after graduation to launch careers. It's money well spent in a field fighting for talent, says Keck Graduate Institute professor Joel West in Claremont, who hired interns when he ran his own software company, and now helps place students at internships.

“When you're an employer, interns are a win-win, because you get relatively cheap labor and you get a first look at talented and ambitious people,” he says. “You get first dibs on them.”

Indeed, many of the internships turn into careers.

Max Schireson, CEO of database startup MongoDB, with offices in Palo Alto and New York, says they nurture former interns, 35 this summer selected from a pool of 3,000, when they return to their respective schools — primarily Brown, MIT, Stanford and Princeton.

“We try to keep in touch with them both to keep that relationship warm but also because they can help us in identifying our next crop,” Schireson says.

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Google interns, from left, Rita DeRaedt, Alfredo Salinas, Alex Rodrigues, Steve Weddler, and Lizzy Burl stop for a photo on the Google campus in Mountain View, California on May 21.

(AFP)

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