How To Fix Silicon Valley’s Shortage Of Engineers? Free Alcohol, Of Course

By Natasha Mascarenhas
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Recruiting companies in Silicon Valley are finding some rather unique ways to recruit top software engineers.

San Francisco Chronicle

With their company-logo T-shirts tucked in by Gucci belts, gripping mixed drinks in Gatorade bottles and chatting about the latest work gossip, hundreds of interns streamed out of an all-paid-for coach bus on a Friday night in July.

The interns, some riding there on the bus from Stanford, others coming by Uber, were lining up to enter the Pearl, a three-level club known for its 360-degree views of Dogpatch and the bay. Some had already gotten a buzz from the free booze offered at their workplaces.

“It’s ironic how we were late to the party,” one intern said, “because we were pregaming” — drinking before they arrived. “All the drinks here are free for us anyways.”

Internships in Silicon Valley are far from an unpaid or underpaid gig doing grunt work. They may work crazy hours like their friends on Wall Street, but they get perks like free meals and on-tap kombucha, $300-a-month Uber allowances and, according to, paychecks that can go north of $10,000 a month.

Well paid, well fed and well treated, interns come out of a two- or three-month stint at big tech companies with a full-time job offer all but assured. As the demand for engineers grows in Silicon Valley and beyond, some companies go to extreme lengths to find new recruits.

That’s where Ben Herman, the sponsor of the intern-only party at the Pearl, comes in. The CEO of Jumpstart, a recruiting software company, wants to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to match new college graduates with companies. The problem: Machines learn by having huge amounts of data. Startups, by definition, don’t have much.

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