Business

At HP, interns have the CEO’s ear

HP’s interns tinker, test and take on jobs that matter.

By Garage Staff — January 4, 2018

With winter break winding down, college students are already starting to focus on what they’ll do this summer — and for many, now’s the time to line up internships.

For HP, that means resumes are starting to flood into its global internship program as students apply to learn on the job skills in everything from ink development at the company’s San Diego, Calif., labs to product management in Bangkok, Thailand to marketing in Bracknell, UK.

HP’s interns contribute in ways big and small — and often go on to have careers at the company. In fact, some of HP’s top managers and creative minds, including CTO Shane Wall, Enrique Lores, president of imaging printing and solutions, and Thom Brown, HP’s Chief Inkologist, all started as interns. 

Isabella Torres, a senior at the University of Houston, digs into complex data at HP’s Houston offices to better understand HP customers.

Courtesy of Isabella Torres

Isabella Torres, a senior at the University of Houston, digs into complex data at HP’s Houston offices to better understand HP customers.

HP’s approach is to let the 1,000 interns it hires each year — ranging from high schoolers to Ph.D. candidates — tinker, test and take on jobs that matter. So between a whirl of BBQs, baseball games and résumé-writing seminars that HP sets up for interns, students might travel across Europe to market new products to retailers or analyze cutting-edge battery technology in HP’s R&D labs.

Isabella Torres, a senior at the University of Houston who was part of the first class of interns hired after the company’s 2015 separation from Hewlett-Packard Co., has seen the new energy build throughout the company. When she first joined as an intern two years ago, her job was every young techie’s dream — ordering brand-new HP products and writing up what it’s like to use them.

“I joined at a time when the company was growing and embracing this reinvention of its culture,” says Torres, an electrical-engineering major. “You can see that all the way through to my type of work.”

Invited to continue as an intern while finishing school, Torres is steadily tackling more complicated tasks, working alongside folks decades older. Right now, she spends her time in the Houston office digging through complex data on how customers interact with HP’s computers, websites and apps. Recently, she uncovered a problem with the purchasing site that she flagged to her managers — and then recommended and helped develop a fix. 

 

“I joined at a time when the company was growing and embracing this reinvention of its culture. You can see that all the way down to my type of work.”

Isabella Torres, a senior at the University of Houston

HP’s recruiting campaign for interns and employees has a straightforward message: HP is hiring, and talent is the only criteria. A series of videos the company started rolling out last year spotlight how HP is working to bake diversity and inclusiveness into everything from training recruiters to hiring ad agencies.

One video shows young women and their dads together reading — and puzzling over — interview advice for women that you can find still just about anywhere online, including “Don’t be too chatty” and “Women who are job hunting may want to cover grey hair.”

“Oh, it doesn’t say men, so you’re fine,” points out an exasperated young woman sitting next to her grey-haired father on a couch. “Yeah, that’s right,” her dad quietly replies. 

With today’s market more hypercompetitive than ever, the stakes are high. One-third of global employers have difficulty filling jobs, according to Manpower. “We want to develop top talent and have them become a pipeline for our regular workforce,” says Katie Hird, manager of HP’s internship program for the Americas.

At the end of their stints, interns showcase their work to executives, managers and colleagues at project fairs around the world. Interns can win prizes for their presentations and, for those approaching graduation, these presentations can lead to a job.

Pulling together a presentation helped Omar Abdul-Rahim, a junior at Cornell who worked last summer in HP’s Palo Alto headquarters, see how much he had contributed.

Courtesy of Omar Abdul-Rahim

Pulling together a presentation helped Omar Abdul-Rahim, a junior at Cornell who worked last summer in HP’s Palo Alto headquarters, see how much he had contributed.

Omar Abdul-Rahim, a 20-year-old junior at Cornell University who is applying for HP internships this summer in Taipei and Palo Alto — his third time as an intern — says the showcase can be nerve-wracking. But preparing for last summer’s presentation with his mentor also made him realize just how much what he’d done had counted. As an experience product manager in the Palo Alto office, Abdul-Rahim had talked regularly with engineering and design teams to benchmark and analyze products and design so they lived up to customers’ expectations. Work he did with his mentor on benchmarking the Spectre x2 notebook ended up being included in the product’s marketing material.

When Abdul-Rahim thinks about his summer, the Oakland A’s game he’d gone to with friends was fun, but it’s those words he’d scrawled on the HP whiteboard with his mentor as he cobbled together his presentation that meant the most. Says Abdul-Rahim: “It made me realize that I was a real contributor.”

 

Learn more about HP's internship program.