Hewlett-Packard is partnering with Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin to create a pilot scholarship program that opens doors to crucial career-development opportunities for students with an interest in technology.
Texas A&M and The University of Texas were selected as vanguards of the company’s latest college recruitment effort, the HP IT Scholar Program, unveiled last fall. Under the two-year program headquartered at HP’s Austin campus, each university will receive $15,000 per year to create five $3,000 scholarships to benefit junior-level students pursuing undergraduate degrees in computer science, management information systems, physics or mathematics. Recipients are selected by a panel of lead advisors from those respective disciplines at each university.
The pilot program, funded through the Texas A&M Foundation, is part of HP’s broader nationwide campaign to scout the country’s top potential college recruits. Ahmed M. Mahmoud, HP senior vice president of HP.com, e-Commerce and marketing, says the program is intended to provide a direct pipeline to align qualified candidates with job opportunities within HP.
“We hope to secure the best of the best early in the recruiting process,” Mahmoud adds.
Mahmoud, a 1987 Texas A&M physics graduate who lives in Austin, says HP IT Scholars are eligible for summer internships with the company at the end of their junior year in essentially any facet of information technology, from business or system analysis to programming. Although receiving a scholarship does not necessarily guarantee an internship, he notes students are required to accept the position if chosen in order to be selected for the scholarship.
Scholars who are accepted to an internship first are required to complete a one-hour interview with HP management and then must perform the internship to the quality of full HP business standards to continue in the program. They must also be willing to relocate to any HP facility in the U.S., should the situation be necessary.
If the terms seem rigorous, Mahmoud says they are that way by design. He affirms that his company has a clear-cut perspective of what is expected from personnel but is quick to add that the process also is intended to give students a glimpse of what the interview process as well as actual employment is like in today’s job market.
“We are looking for enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and self starters,” Mahmoud says. “At that early stage, we want reach everyone we can to train them in the job interview process and encourage them to sell themselves and their ideas.”
While it’s fairly common for major companies to take a hands-on approach with business and engineering undergraduates, HP’s program is unlike anything the Texas A&M College of Science has ever been involved with, says Dr. Timothy P. Scott, associate dean for undergraduate programs.
“Science comes with a certain skill level HP is looking for,” Scott explains. “It’s a little more fundamental, a little more independent. I’m not saying those qualities aren’t present in other disciplines, but with pure science, we feel less constrained by applications at times.”
Students who successfully complete the internship are eligible for an additional $3,000 scholarship their senior year and will earn themselves a spot on HP’s radar for possible full-time employment upon graduation.
With job competition at an all-time high, both parties agree that the program gives students the possibility of a career advantage that otherwise might be more difficult to obtain. Conversely HP benefits from a cost-effective business plan for acquiring, hiring and training a better-qualified pool of job candidates with built-in familiarity and possible loyalty to HP.
Today HP boasts more than 320,000 employees doing business in 170 different countries. Despite its vast size and portfolio, Mahmoud says the company has maintained a solid reputation and healthy relationship with college students — both as customers and as employees — throughout its 70-plus years of existence, thanks in large part to the close proximity of its Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters to Stanford University.
Because of Texas A&M’s and The University of Texas’s geographic locations and academic capabilities, Mahmoud notes they were prime candidates for a similarly symbiotic partnership with HP’s Houston and Austin offices — a model HP hopes to roll out at other influential colleges in key hiring regions across the nation.
“We knew we were planning to acquire great talent from colleges, and we wanted a mechanism that would give us early visibility on this talent,” Mahmoud says. “We hope to one day grow and expand this program with other universities.”
Mahmoud encourages other companies, even rivals, to follow HP’s example, which he says easily lends itself to replication by firms in a variety of areas interested in improving their own hiring performance as well as overall bottom line.
“My team strives to mentor new graduates so they develop a strong work ethic while fostering an environment where innovation flourishes,” Mahmoud says. “It’s important for new hires to know their productivity impacts the bottom line, and through organized recruiting and new-hire programs, HP hopes to build a foundation for highly productive team members who can put technology to work in ways that have never been considered.”