I was an intern in the iPod Product Design group in 2008. Things may have changed significantly in the internship experience since then, so this all really only applies to my experience.
It’s awesome, and compared to most intern experiences I’ve heard about, it ranks close to the top, for the following reasons:
- Meaningful Work – You get put on a real project, with real responsibilities, and have real impact on product outcomes. You interact with movers and shakers in the company on a fairly frequent basis (I had weekly meetings headed up by the head of all iPod/iPhone Product Design), and your opinion is valued as if you were an employee.
- Great Intern Culture – Almost all the interns are very good at what they do, and are passionate about doing it. There were frequent intern trips in to San Francisco, nightly volleyball games at 1 Infinite Loop, outings to various Cupertino restaurants, etc.
- Seeing Behind the Curtain of Secrecy – It was super cool to get to be intimately involved in products before they came out, and to see the gritty details of past products, even some that never made it to market. It should be noted, however, that this only applies within your immediate department, as everything outside of your department is on a need-to-know basis.
- Great Intern-specific Events – Even though you’re treated almost as a full employee in terms of responsibilities, Apple does a great job of giving interns cool events such as the Executive Speaker Series (intern only talks by Apple’s leadership team, including Jobs himself), Intern Field Trips to San Francisco, and iContest,which is an intern ideas contest, judged by Apple execs, with amazing prizes*.
- High Possibility of Hiring After Graduation – If that’s what you want, and you did a good job during your internship. I don’t remember the exact figures, but a surprisingly large number of Apple’s full time employees came through the intern program.
- Good Pay – If this is important to you, Apple offers the highest intern pay of any internship I’ve heard of, including the wonderful California overtime rules. I won a 1Tb Time Capsule, and a $500 bonus when a patent was filed on my team’s idea.