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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

hiring an intern

anyone have experience with this? We are a small company and have some internal applications mainly written in ruby on rails. We also have some basic linux admin work (we have a senior admin who will tutor him). We don't need to pay for a full fledged technical person for this.

its not really fascinating for an experienced person but it is real coding. not just bug fixing. there are enhancements. So its real work.

Anyone have experiences hiring an intern? We would look at juniors or seniors. We were going to require a 3.5 GPA so we don't have to give insane numbers of interviews to find people.

we are flexible and they can work from home. We know they have class. It is not full time. Though we will want them in the office some times for discussions and to get instruction on things since this person would be a beginner.

We were thinking of something like $15/hour as a part time intern. We would also call them a software developer, and be willing to give a strong reference (assuming he does a good job). We only hire really senior people here, so we couldn't hire him.

hours are not fixed. Its not critical work and we know he has classes.

anyone have experience with this? We already have code in place, but we need it enhanced and we have some admin stuff we could off load to him. The Linux admin is very senior and likes to help people and we could help him out with some coding issues. However ,the kid has to be able to actually do stuff. They don't have to be a ruby expert (we already started it in this language, so we don't want to change), but have some familiarity with it.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I have a lot of experience hiring college students (for handling a call center back when the Internet wasn't as popular and the phone actually rang with people wanting to order software).  I had dozens of college students work for me over the years and generally can say it was good.

I would recommend you drop the 3.5 GPA requirement and just see how many applicants you get.  If you get a pile, then maybe start filtering based on some objective criteria like that.  However, you could easily filter out the perfect person if you put that kind of filter on the situation.  Maybe someone is a dedicated worker and so, because of their needs to put themselves through school, they don't keep the highest GPA, but otherwise are smart and a good worker.  I'd recommend looking through the applications and have a "keep" and "discard" pile.  If keep is large, do it again.  It's a good problem to have too many applicants, but you can deal with that after you're certain you have such a problem.

Most importantly, you want to hire someone that is reliable, honest, etc.  Character is extremely important and as important as skills, or perhaps more important if you have a lot of skilled applicants to choose from.  College students tend to have a shallow attention span, and part-timers almost always have less loyalty than someone supporting a family or otherwise working professionally.  Getting the right person that isn't going to leave in the middle of a project, steal code, pad their hours, etc. is crucial too.  Those traits can't be easily measured, but some good interview questions and reference checks will help a lot.

Best of luck!

- Jeff Camino
  NorthStar Solutions

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Jeff Camino / NorthStar Solutions Send private email
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
  Its a good thought to have intern, but mind it, there is a cost involved in terms of making them aware of your code base and training them for production quality code, learning language might not be tough for good intern but being able to right code that is really good , you might have to wait.. When I wanted yo get my job done for which I didnt want to hire a RoR Expert in US, I actually hired a contract RoR Expert @ 25$/hr in India. And It works....

drop me an email, I might help you find one...
Alice Send private email
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
As a college student I would much agree with Jeff.
Don't set requirements on who can apply, set recommendations and read through the first batch of resumes you get to see the basic quality of people you get and then develop a set of criteria for sorting them into keep and discard piles. If I were you, I'd sort first based on any sort of outside programming/computer related projects listed on a resume.

The reason for this is you could easily filter out the perfect person for your job if you set the requirements to high. Not everyone is a 4.0 student, and many who are aren't worth the paper they're printed on so to speak.

Also keep in mind that upperclassmen might be looking more for internships that can directly lead to a job afterwards, while with a lowerclassman they may just be looking for someplace cool to gain experience while attending school plus you can get them for 4 years instead of 1-2.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Good luck - we pay fairly high amounts for interns (considering they usually have no degree and no experience) and we're having a hard time getting people to even respond to ads. We have ads in university websites and in the CS and economics (to attract the econometrics students) faculties. Those that do show up are hit and miss: some are great, some I'd almost pay to just leave me alone.

This is Western Europe, though - may be different where you are.
Joske Vermeulen
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I was on the other side of this equation when I was a student.

Try to look at it from *my* perspective:

1. I was a recent immigrant (from Eastern Europe to the U.S.), with a technical (non-IT) Masters degree from a *very* good university.
2. I was working full-time in construction (family wants to eat) for $15.5/hr.
3. At the same time, I was a student at a university studying Computer Science.
4. I was *dreaming* of finding an IT job for $15/hr (and work my way up later).
5. I graduated with GPA 4.0 (which was easy - considering the previous Master's degree).
6. I could NOT find a freakin' IT job for *almost 2 years*. Not even for half a year after I got my MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) certification.
7. According to Microsoft statistics, on average an MCP has 10 years of experience. I had 0 ("zero") when I got my certification.
8. I went to several interviews. At 2 of them, the interviewers told me explicitly that my technical test results (on *their own* tests) were the best ever. A few minutes later: "...but you don't have experience".
9. Finally, I got a job at a big company. The manager saw the potential (despite lack of hands-on experience), and he was originally from the same country as me. I got lucky.
10. I did pretty amazing things at that company. They never regretted they had hired me.
11. I got my own company now. So far, working full-time as a contractor, but it's only a matter of time.

So, how's that for a bedtime story?

You CAN find a good developer in a college.
Give him/her a chance, and they might help you (your company) more than you you expect them to.

BTW, I think GPA 3.5 is good enough only if the guy is in Ivy League or MIT or something.
If the college is not in the "US News and World report"'s top 50, this GPA will bring you a beer drinker, not a developer, IMHO.
anon4this Send private email
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
You can't be a beer drinker and a good coder?

One of my regrets from college is that my GPA was too high.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
You can.

But no employer would want to hire a crazy genius: those are difficult to work with.
But you do know that, don't you? From your own experience?
As for me, I'm *not* a beer-drinking hacker-type genius. I'm just a good coder. But I'm not easy to work with, either, because I an asshole.
That's why good coders are better off starting their own companies and being their own bosses.
anon4this Send private email
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
@Steve - dude, I'm a rockstar programmer WHILE I'm drinking beer. In my experience, CS book smarts have little to do with real time decision making and improvising that being a good developer calls for.

Not that school isn't important, or that I wouldn't think of it as a bonus, but to tell you the truth the best developers I have ever come accross never finished college (both of my mentors). I think that logically the just couldn't see what more they could be taught for such a high price and went out and made big names for themselves in the field anyway.

Please refer to my article:


Not trying to belittle your education, just found your statement to be a little ignorant from my experience in the field.

Oh yeah, and it took me 4 months to get a job out of school, and five years later I'm on course to be running an IT dept within the next 9 mos.
Sara C Send private email
Thursday, August 21, 2008
oooh, that link was a little messy ...

republished here:

Sara C Send private email
Thursday, August 21, 2008
We have had really positive experiences with hiring interns.  We found that rather than using GPA to cut down on the applications, we just asked applicants to submit a lot of stuff. 

We ask for a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and code sample.  The writing sample gives us a sense of how the person thinks (in addition to weeding out the slackers). 

Still, expect to read a ton of resumes.  We followup with a 15 minute "is this person an idiot?" phone interview, then bring the remaining candidates in for a group interview.
Brian Begy Send private email
Friday, August 22, 2008
On preview, group interview means: a bunch of us interview the candidates one at a time, not we bring all the candidates in to be interviewed at once. 

Need coffee.
Brian Begy Send private email
Friday, August 22, 2008

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