Here at Monarch Digital, we have had a number of paid interns. Most didn't know much of anything about Drupal when they first started working with us. All were enthusiastic and smart, and we liked them all, but ultimately we didn't hire a single one (so far).
Reflecting on this I wonder, was that outcome something to do with us as an organization? Was it because of them, or even Drupal itself? In reality, it was probably to some degree all of those things combined.
Yes, a good part of this was us.
We have very high standards. A number of our interns were recent college graduates who did not have much background in the LAMP stack and definitely no experience in Drupal.
Coming into the internship, they needed to have proficient HTML and CSS skills. We implied that they needed to try Drupal and they all installed Drupal on their own.
We had structured goals for them to achieve throughout the internship and at the end of the 6 month term. We gave them progressively more difficult projects for real clients. We spent significant staff time to train and answer questions on the LAMP stack, git, ssh, and so on.
The bottom line is that we (actually myself) are quite picky. At the end of the internship, I feel that we need to have a developer who can work independently. Granted, I am comparing them to senior Drupal developers, but having a junior dev who must consistently use a senior developer's time is not a great value.
Some of it was them.
During the time that they were sitting at their Monarch desk, the interns were working on client work, getting questions answered from other developers and learning what they needed to know to complete the specific task they were working on.
Coming into the internship, everyone's understanding was that the intern was going to need to spend signficant time outside of work to get up to speed on the basics. The reality was that this didn't happen.
I must admit that we structure our internships like a military boot camp. Yet, when we got into Drupal back in 2007, I introduced a recent high school graduate to Drupal and he didn't sleep for a week. (You know who you are!)
Some of the issue is Drupal.
With great power comes great responsibility, padawan. Drupal has the capabilities and power to build complete web applications. However, learning and harnessing all of that power can be challenging.
You don't become a virtuoso piano player overnight. Besides, if it was easy, everybody would do it, right?
Good outcomes for both parties.
The good news is that all of our internships resulted in wins for everyone. Most of our interns wanted to work for Monarch as a full time employee (except for those who couldn't stand our humor). Even though our interns ultimately didn't come to work for us, they all secured great jobs with fantastic companies doing technical work that they could not have done prior to their internship. Several of these hiring companies ended up doing business with Monarch to handle the most challenging Drupal tasks. Even while the interns worked for us, we were able to bill out some of the interns time to make both our clients and Monarch happy.