July 7, 2014 at 1:00 am

Corporate giants woo interns

Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing lay on the perks to attract top students

Interns from Amazon charge off in a paintball match versus interns from Microsoft in Monroe, Wash. More than 3,000 students have come to Seattle this summer to work at Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing. (Bettina Hansen / MCT)

Amazon.com, Microsoft and Boeing sweeten already-lucrative job offers in Seattle with subsidized, furnished housing.

Transportation is covered from anywhere in the country, including airport food, baggage fees and taxis. There’s free breakfast and dinner, biweekly housekeeping, a private party with Macklemore and Deadmau5.

And that’s just for the interns.

“We are all competing for those top students,” said Heidi Dowling, intern-program manager for university recruiting at Microsoft, “and what can we do to make our program stand out and what is attractive for a college student to spend their summer with Microsoft?”

Their strategies are working. More than 3,000 students have brought their talents to Seattle this summer to work at those three companies.

Dan Masi is a Seattle intern veteran.

One visit to a career fair at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst was enough to make an Amazon internship in Seattle his first choice last summer.

A computer-science and mathematics junior hailing from a Boston suburb, Masi worried about the challenge of moving across the country, especially for only 12 weeks.

“I think the little things — finding my own housing, dealing with flights, dealing with relocation — would’ve just been really difficult,” Masi said. “It would kind of push me to find something closer to home. It probably wouldn’t have been my first choice.”

But Amazon recruiters were clear: Relocation wouldn’t be an issue.

Amazon and Microsoft both contract with ABODA, a Redmond, Wash.-based corporate housing company, to cater to interns. ABODA rents out rooms in more than 150 locations in Seattle, including apartment buildings, hotels and spare housing at the University of Washington.

ABODA also fully stocks rooms with televisions, bedding, towels, dishes, electronics and more. And it offers housekeeping and catering.

“It’s basically turnkey,” said Marci Abinanti, vice president of corporate housing at ABODA.

Interns get quite a break: Corporate housing generally is subsidized.

Microsoft interns who choose housing over a housing lump-sum stipend of about $2,500 for the summer have three options: a studio for $550, a one-bedroom for $900 or a two-bedroom with a roommate for $625 a month. About 60 percent of the company’s 1,600 Puget Sound interns choose corporate housing, with the rest taking the lump sum, said Dowling.

Lauren Kuan, a computer-science senior from Cornell University, chose to live in a two-bedroom apartment in Bothell during her internship at Microsoft.

The 21-year-old interned at Goldman Sachs in New York City last year. There, she said, she received a small housing stipend but very little help finding a place to stay.

“You were completely thrown in on your own,” Kuan said.

As a program manager intern at Microsoft, Kuan opted for corporate housing in part to have a roommate. She drives a rental car courtesy of Microsoft for the freedom of exploring the Pacific Northwest.

“It shows that they really do care about employees and interns and so on,” Kuan said. “They want to make you very happy and make it very easy.”

Amazon and Boeing declined to offer specific details about the costs of their programs.

Microsoft intern Lauren Kuan enjoys perks of a good summer job with ... (Dean Rutz / MCT)