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A Look Inside the 2013 Red Hat North American Summer Intern Program

Every year, a select group of university students and recent graduates join Red Hat’s North American summer intern program. The application and interview process is vigorous. In 2013, we received more than 5,800 applicants and hired only 71. But for those chosen, a Red Hat summer internship offers unique opportunities to learn, grow, and network.

Ready... set... go!

The 2013 program kicked off with an intern lunch-and-learn in our Raleigh headquarters, hosted by Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst. Jim emphasized the importance of being yourself and spending your time doing what matters most to you. He answered questions from interns in the room and on the phone, including an overview of a typical day in his life. The interns were surprised to learn that despite his busy travel calendar, Jim is an avid runner who drives his children to school most mornings and tries to unplug from the office every weekend.

When they aren’t attending lunch-and-learns with our executives, competing in the annual Intern Game Day, or volunteering an afternoon with the local food bank, Red Hat interns see very little of the stereotypical corporate intern grunt work. Here’s what Jeremy, an engineering intern, had to say about the assignments he was given:

“After only about 30 minutes into my first full day, I realized I was not going to spend the summer in a closet somewhere. Within a week I had made my first code contribution to an open source project, and before long, I had half a dozen bugs fixed and had added a small feature to the Pulp administration client. The second half of the summer I worked on a requested feature for Red Hat Satellite. It’s quite exciting to know I worked on something people have asked for and will use.”

Making connections

Red Hat managers encourage their interns to reach out to people in different departments and build a network of contacts. Michelle, a business analyst intern, initially felt awkward contacting people in other departments to learn about their jobs. However, she soon learned:

“People here actually want to talk about it! They were so helpful. Coming into the internship, I thought that finding the right fit for my unique background would be impossible. Through those interactions, I discovered that there are a wide variety of positions that combine technical, interpersonal, and business skills.”

A project manager intern, Priyam, was also encouraged to meet Red Hatters beyond his own team:

“I was called to sit in on many meetings with different teams, often outside my intern scope, just because they thought it would be a good learning opportunity for me. People are the best source of information.”

Adapting to our culture

A crucial part of every Red Hat internship is understanding that the open source way goes beyond software development. Our belief in open source impacts how we make decisions, work together, and even organize our company. At the core of open source is meritocracy—the belief that good ideas can come from anywhere and the best ideas should win.

Adam, a social media and marketing intern, explained the importance of meritocracy at Red Hat in an article for opensource.com:

“It’s not the clothes you wear or the title that you have that is important here. It’s what you do.”

In a company with an entrenched open source culture like Red Hat, interns must adapt what they’ve learned in the classroom to fit complex, real-world situations. For Rachel, a human resources intern, this lesson came to life when she was asked to draft a policy for Red Hat:

“I learned that you have to consider the culture of the company you are working for. Even if the market research is indicating that the majority of the competition is doing one thing, that might not be the right approach for your company’s culture.”

Collaboration, Red Hat style

In addition to projects within their areas of expertise, the interns met throughout the summer to work on a group project with peers from other offices and departments. The group project taught the interns a lot about the everyday challenges of cross-functional and global collaboration in a rapidly growing company. For Kyle, a training and development intern, the project helped him build stronger communications skills:

“I had to work with those who didn’t necessarily think the same way I do. It took different methods to motivate the marketing and design people than it did the engineers.”

This year’s group intern project was to research successful campus recruiting initiatives and present their findings. We were impressed by the interns’ ability to come together the open source way and deliver insightful recommendations to our recruiting team. We’re eager to put the best of their ideas into action on campus in 2014!

Find Red Hat on your local campus this fall:

Duke University

  • Duke Tech Connect Networking Event, Sept 10, 2013; 5 - 9:30 p.m.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • MIT Fall Career, Sept 20, 2013; 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • MIT Society of Women Engineers Career Fair Banquet, Sept 20, 2013; 7 - 9 p.m.

North Carolina State University

  • NCSU ePartners Career Connection, Sept 30, 2013; 12 - 4 p.m.
  • NCSU Engineering Career Fair, Oct 1, 2013; 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • RPI 35th Annual National Society of Black Engineers & Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Career Fair, Sept 27, 2013; 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Rochester Institute of Technology

  • RIT Fall 2013 Career Fair, Sept 25, 2013; 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

University of Massachusetts Lowell

  • UMASS Lowell Fall Career Fair, Sept 23, 2013; 1 - 4 p.m.

University of North Carolina

  • UNC Fall Jobs + Internship Fair, Sept 12, 2013; 12 - 4 p.m.

University of Virginia

  • UVA Engineering Career day, Sept 17, 2013; 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • VA Tech Engineering Expo, Sept 18, 2013; 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  • WPI Fall Career Fair, Sept 18, 2013; 12 - 4:30 p.m.