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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Interns Are Latest Target In Battle for Tech Talent



Silicon Valley's talent wars are going younger.
Bay Area tech companies, already in a fierce fight for full-time hires, are now also battling to woo summer interns. Technology giants like Google Inc. have been expanding their summer-intern programs, while smaller tech companies are ramping up theirs in response—sometimes even luring candidates away from college.
Dropbox Inc. plans to hire 30 engineering interns for next summer, up from nine this year, says engineering manager Rian Hunter, who adds the company wants interns to comprise one-third of its engineering team.
The San Francisco-based file-sharing company this year dispatched its entire engineering team to recruit at more than a dozen colleges, up from just five schools last year, schmoozing recruits over dinners and through technical talks on subjects like how Dropbox reduces the amount of memory its desktop client uses.
  Interns allow you to "try before you buy," says Bump Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Dave Lieb, who plans to hire as many as 10 for next summer. He says the 30-person company pays intern engineers about $10,000 for a roughly 12-week stint, similar to what other tech start-ups say they pay.
"More interns means more opportunities to bring people to the company," Mr. Hunter says, noting Dropbox is seeking people as young as college freshman.
Through last year's intern program, Bump nabbed Tom Greany, an engineer who dropped out of Imperial College London to work on the company's mobile app, which allows users to share data between phones by bumping them together. "To me, the choice was to help create the future or sit on the sidelines and think about it," says the 23-year-old, who says he doesn't know if he will return to school.
Ninety-three percent of early-stage Silicon Valley start-ups have hired or are hiring interns, according to InternMatch Inc., a website that helps college students find internships. The group surveyed companies that recently raised money from two Bay Area incubators, Y Combinator or 500 Startups.
In a new twist, venture capitalists have begun doing some intern legwork for their companies. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, recruiting at 25 college campuses across the country, helped a cohort of its companies hire around 25 engineering interns for the coming summer through a new program called KPCB Engineering Fellows.
Kleiner's companies, including Klout Inc. and Twitter Inc., started notifying their new interns last week.
"Competition for talent is so fierce," says Kleiner partner Juliet de Baubigny. She says the firm may expand the program, which is currently for juniors in college, to others, including possibly high-school students.
Meanwhile, Facebook Inc. plans to hire 625 interns for next summer, up from 550 this year. Google hired 1,000 engineering interns this past summer, up 20% from the previous year. Yolanda Mangolini, Google's director of talent and outreach programs, says the company is still figuring out its target for 2012, based on its overall staffing plan.
Google generally extends offers to the majority of its intern class, Ms. Mangolini says. "It is one of the primary ways we find full-time hires."

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