Documentary on Summer Internships

Here’s a movie about Fog Creek Software‘s first summer internship programme, Project Aardvark, held from May to August of last year: Aardvark’d

Four interns are brought into Manhattan and given 12 weeks to design, develop, debug and ship a program that will change the way computer geeks around the world fix their friends’ computers. Boondoggle Films presents a journey through the world of software development from the perspective of a unique upstart, four quirky interns, and the world of The Geek.

Okay, so that can’t possibly be interesting, can it?

Well, it probably is, since this is a movie mostly about geeks (and we’re all geeks here at FG, aren’t we?). And it’s about how Fog Creek tries to redefine the summer internship application process, and the very concept of summer internship itself.

It used to be that summer internship was a few weeks’ period of underemployed-ness, with perfectly capable interns being assigned mundane and sometimes worthless tasks just because they’re interns. Project Aardvark tried to be different, in that the “star” interns were actually assigned to conceptualize, design, and roll-out a new product from ground-up. On hindsight, that particular product actually turned out to be Fog Creek’s bestselling software (the interns must be thinking “Holy crap! We could’ve made a killing had we created that product ourselves!”).

Instead of wasting their talents giving them the usual dull and unimportant tasks of a typical summer internship, we decided to let the interns create a complete new software product, from beginning to end, over the course of one summer. With experienced software developers as mentors, the team will design, program, test, and roll out a complete software product over the course of one hectic summer, going from concept to paying customers in about ten weeks.

This year, Fog Creek has again started its internship programme, and narrowed down 500 applications into its present lineup of 6 interns, to work on yet another interesting project. And I do quite envy them, as each intern gets free housing, lunch, works on Aeron chairs, dual-Xeon workstations with dual 30″ LCDs. And they get to attend weekly cultural and sports events. Fog Creek works on the principle that hiring the best people produces the best results. And having the best facilities would likely attract great talent. I do agree. I’ve worked with a handful of companies, and here’s one overwhelming sentiment: if the workplace is crappy, you’ll end up losing your people in a matter of weeks (or worse, days!).

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