An article in last week's Wall Street Journal, Interns Are Latest Target In Battle for Tech Talent, focused on the increased interest in hiring summer interns in the Bay area.

"Bay Area tech companies, already in a fierce fight for full-time hires, are now also battling to woo summer interns. Technology giants like Google Inc. have been expanding their summer-intern programs, while smaller tech companies are ramping up theirs in response—sometimes even luring candidates away from college."

The motivation for companies is simple. Their growth depends on a steady stream of new hires with good skills and work habits. Hiring prospects as summer interns is a "try before you buy" strategy, giving the company lots of information to decide whether to extend an offer for a full-time position after graduation.

Meanwhile, Facebook Inc. plans to hire 625 interns for next summer, up from 550 this year. Google hired 1,000 engineering interns this past summer, up 20% from the previous year. Yolanda Mangolini, Google's director of talent and outreach programs, says the company is still figuring out its target for 2012, based on its overall staffing plan. Google generally extends offers to the majority of its intern class, Ms. Mangolini says. "It is one of the primary ways we find full-time hires."

While the WSJ story focused on Bay area companies, the situation is similar throughout the country and applies not only to companies, but also government agencies. It you are pursuing a computing-related program, now is the time to aggressively explore internship opportunities for the summer.

Graduate students and undergraduates who are currently juniors or seniors planning on going into graduate school will get the most interest, but there will be opportunities for current sophomores and even freshmen as well. If you want start working on lining up a great summer internship, your first stop should be the Career Services Center.