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March 10, 2009

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Although summer interns are not typically highly paid, Vault.com has uncovered a panoply of juicy and unusual summer perks for those underpaid interns. At one Big-Three automaker, aside from the usual brunches and other social events with managers, interns are also taken to the test track (called the "Proving Grounds") where they get to drive a number of different vehicles through an obstacle course, reflex test and follow-the-leader course. Then, explains one intern, "we had "Hot Laps" where the instructors from a racing school took us around the track as fast as they could. I saw the needle past 120 and then things got kind of blurry."

One leading financial services company cuddles up to its summer employees, and interns say that "MBA interns are treated like princes and princesses." Perks are manifold: "We were taken out to Broadway shows, ball games, and had cocktail hours hosted for us. " At the same time, "the project I was on proved to be a great learning experience, as it exposed me to a lot of different business issues. I had access to senior management throughout the course of the project for any issues that came up. Overall it was a great summer!" "The internship is very structured and satisfying, and you are treated very well, because [the firm] wants you to come back," reports one former consulting intern. However, one intern cautions that "the nature of the job is very structured and may not be suited for someone who is more of a risk-taker."

College interns are often unpaid, but some make anywhere from $200 to $500 a week. MBA interns usually make about $4,000 to $6,000 a month with no bonus. According to one consulting intern, "they went out of their way to make you happy. MBAs were a priority hire. I saw people coming in at 9-9:30 and leaving at 6-6:30. In fact, I think they might have gone a bit overboard in trying to make the summer fun, having us all leave work once on a Wednesday to go sailing as an ostensible "team building exercise." "

What better internship perk than a nearly guaranteed job? At one huge branded goods company, internship programs are the best way to get started at the company. Says one former MBA intern who accepted full-time offer: "Summer internships almost always result in job offers. This summer, interns received their offers before they left. During the previous summer, the CEO stated that one of his long-term goals was to recruit brand management people only from the intern pool." Another MBA intern says she knew of no one in the program with her who did not receive an offer. "It's contingent on performance," says one intern, "but I knew that if you did well, you get an offer." ~Interns are also given a surprising amount of responsibility. "Interns often get the most politically sensitive projects: to kill or not kill a brand; strategic focus of a brand," says one former brand management intern. "These were not just make work. These were real projects," says another. Also, one Wall Street intern says that interns at headquarters have weekly lunches with high-level managers, such as the company's CEO. "That was a fantastic experience," says one former intern about the luncheons.

Management consulting interns are generally among the most satisfied interns. Summer associates at one major consulting firm say they were treated "just like regular associates" The summer begins with one and a half days of orientation, which may include some computer software training. Summer associates are assigned to teams, assigned projects, and may contribute to reports, interview members of client companies and make presentations. One summer associate says he was "given a project which involved evaluating a $30 million dollar project for a large steel company. At the end of the summer

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