Let’s admit it: brand names matter. You take notice when you hear someone interns at Apple, Nike or Walt Disney. So do employers. And when it comes to the best summer internships for MBAs, top honors belong to Google according to Vault, a leading collector of market intelligence for employer ratings and reviews. For the fourth consecutive year, Google fended off all contenders in Vault’s 2019 “Most Prestigious Internships” ranking. Demonstrably tech-heavy at the top, the prestige ranking features Apple as the runner-up, with Microsoft, Tesla, and Facebook rounding out the top five firms.
CULTURE AND MISSION CENTRAL TO GOOGLE’S APPEAL
Vault’s prestige ranking focuses on which companies are most “desirable” to students. The results are taken from a survey of 13,000 current and former interns, whose ranks include both graduate and undergraduate students. Along with rating their own internships – which is covered separately in Vault’s “50 Best Internships” ranking – the sample also evaluated the prestige of a list of employers, using a 10 point scale where 10 is a “It’s a dream job” and 1 means “No one wants to work here.”
You won’t hear the latter sentence uttered much at Google. That’s because the company is organized with employee satisfaction at the forefront. Look no further at the Googleplex headquarters, with perks designed to remove all clutter and distraction from employees. That starts with free gourmet meals (and even cooking classes). The venue offers everything from an onsite health center and daycare to haircuts, laundry, and shuttles…not to mention a fitness center too. Yes, employees can bring their dogs to the office too. Beyond that, employees enjoy flexible work schedules, a friendly parental leave policy, PTO for volunteering, and even equity.
However, it is the company’s culture and mission that truly resonates with employees. In a growth-mindset company that is constantly innovating, employees are encouraged to think outside the box, experiment, create, and occasionally fail (fast, preferably). Even more, Google is seemingly the place to be if you want to actively shape the future, as the company moves into spaces like driverless cars and artificial intelligence. Indeed, Google is expanding upon its stated mission to make information “universally accessible” – and becoming a player in fields outside the internet. No wonder the company receives two million resumes a year!
APPLE CLOSING THE GAP WITH GOOGLE IN PRESTIGE
Chances are, some of them will come from survey respondents, who universally gave the firm a thumbs up in responses shared exclusively with Poets&Quants. The appeal is summed up by one respondent: “Impressive on resume, everyone knows Google, super far reaching – found everywhere, impact in everything from phones to web to hardware, great pay, great work environment, the leaders in so many things tech related, passionate, “Do the right thing” slogan is awesome, best-of-the-best work there, hire me please.”
Google isn’t the end-all-be-all for prospective interns, however. Just look at Apple, which has finished as the runner-up to Google in all four of Vault’s prestige rankings. The silver lining? The gap is increasingly shrinking, with just .247 of a point separating the two firms – way down from the .411 difference just three years ago. To some, Apple has lost a step after the death of Steve Jobs, missing out on the digital assistant craze and losing the top spot for camera phones. Despite this, Vault intern respondents often described Apple using terms seemingly culled from the Google lexicon.
A big advantage for Apple is familiarity. “[A] company that many people entering job market grew up on their technology,” writes on intern. Another laid out their positioning this way: “Very popular, great culture. Strives for innovation.” That’s not to say the company receives rave reviews from every corner, however. One respondent described the firm as “prohibitively Apple secretive,” with another adding, “BS pricing on products makes me dislike them.” The harshest criticism? “A cult of their devices.”
FACEBOOK LOSING ITS LUSTER?
Microsoft may not have the “cool” factor going for it like Google and Apple. Over the past four prestige rankings, it has gained nearly .4 of a point from prospective interns. The tech giant is summed up this way by one survey respondent: “Microsoft does everything, and does everything very well. Probably the most respected software based company on the planet.” Another respondent trumpeted the company’s “awesome culture” and “high pay” – with a third citing that interns “learn a lot” and receive “good development opportunities.” However, survey respondents clicked off some downsides to interning at Microsoft as well. For one, it isn’t easy to get hired there. “Heard [it is] incredibly competitive and only take top-tier candidates, notes one respondent. “Seems like it isn’t as innovative anymore,” adds another.
The intern reviews weren’t as upbeat at Facebook, which slid from 3rd to 5th in 2019. Despite being dogged by a data breach scandal, the firm earned plenty of acclaim from interns. One intern lauded Facebook’s “awesome culture” and “phenomenal pay.” Another noted how the company name still “looks impressive on a resume.” Even more, Facebook is hardly resting on its laurels. “Very innovative company,” writes one intern, “works hard to stay ahead of industry curves, much larger than anyone realizes.”
That said, interns have taken note of the bad press, as every positive comment is seemingly followed up with an asterisk. “Not a fan of this company,” asserts one intern. “I don’t trust them after all the scandals they’ve had this year with transparency.” “Slowly ruining their name,” adds another survey respondent. Perhaps the most damning comment of all? “Hard internship to get, but company doesn’t seem extraordinary anymore.”
TESLA RISES…IN SPITE OF ELON MUSK
Facebook isn’t the only one that has been courting controversy in recent years. Case in point: Elon Musk. Earlier this fall, Musk was docked $20 million dollars by the Securities & Exchange Commission for making false statements about Tesla’s finances in a tweet. His response? He labeled the SEC as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.” Such impulsiveness, coupled with an incident where he allegedly smoked marijuana during a podcast, have left many wondering if the tech pioneer has become another Howard Hughes – a man who is increasing losing self-control in the face of shareholder demands for increased automobile production and profitability.
Alas, Musk personifies the Gen-Y spirit. A brazen visionary, Musk tackles the big issues with the potential to transform how people live: space travel, high-speed “hyperloop” transportation, and artificial intelligence. As a result, legions of ambitious business professionals and engineers flock to his fledgling ventures. That includes Tesla, his Palo Alto umbrella that includes everything from electric cars to solar panels to batteries and chargers.
Not surprisingly, Tesla has become one of the hottest tickets for prospective interns, with its prestige ranking increasing from 6th to 4th over the past year. The upside? For starters, according to one survey respondent, there is an “almost 100% hire rate of interns.” Another touts the Elon Musk name, adding “interns make $28/hour and are allowed to work overtime, and it’s in California.” Beyond that, the attraction is what anyone might expect, including “great product and reputation,” “cutting-edge innovation,” “constant collaboration,” and “impressive on a resume.”
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Like Facebook, Tesla also comes with a dark side. One intern, who worked at a different firm, equated working for Tesla to “slave labor.” Another cited the firm’s “amazing projects,” but added this caveat: “You will burn out – heavy workload.” Another pointed to the company’s hubris, calling it “massively overconfident” with “no regard for safety.” That begs the question, writes one respondent: “How much longer will Tesla be afloat?”
“It is the future,” he adds, “but change is necessary.”
How potent is Musk’s vision? He is the only leader with two companies in Vault’s “Most Prestigious Internships” this year. His SpaceX enterprise debuts in the ranking at #9, the highest debut of any company in the ranking’s history. From the outside looking in, it is the place to be, with one intern joking, “I’d pay money to intern SpaceX.” However, word is getting out among interns that SpaceX drawbacks similar to Tesla. Notably, intern pay is low and the demands are “grueling.”
Go to next page to see Vault’s 50 Most Prestigious Internships