How Do You Teach Summer Interns Your Company Values?

By Greg Berg, Principal Technical Writer at NetApp


NetApp is consistently recognized around the world as a great place to work – in 2013, NetApp was ranked #6 on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. Our commitment to living our company values is a key contributor to being an award-winning culture.


Naturally, we want our summer interns to learn the NetApp values as part of their intern experience. How do you teach values? By living them, of course! One of the values we want to teach is the importance of fostering positive relationships in the communities where we work.


Each year, we plan projects that enable our interns to learn about and contribute to our communities. As part of the NetApp Playhouse project, the first project for the interns in RTP this year was to build wheelchair-accessible playhouses for Camp Easter Seals UCP, a summer camp serving special needs children and adults. Back in April, NetApp donated the first wheelchair-accessible playhouse to Easter Seals UCP Charlie Gaddy Children’s Center and we are so honored to work with them again!


The NetApp Playhouse project is a partnership with Habitat for Humanity – NetApp supports Habitat for Humanity by making a contribution to Habitat that supports their affordable housing mission. In return, Habitat provides the materials and instruction for our volunteer build teams. The playhouses are then donated to another nonprofit in the community who choose to either keep the playhouse or put it up for auction to raise much-needed funds. It’s a win-win-win arrangement!


Two teams of about 20 interns each, led by volunteers from Durham Habitat for Humanity, painted and assembled a playhouse in a single (extremely hot) summer day right in the middle of the RTP campus. Using summer camp themes, the teams designed the decorations for their playhouses.


The interns first painted the base colors on all of the walls, doors, windows, and trim.

Then they painted the decorations they had designed. Quite a creative group!

After the installation of the doors, windows, and trim came the final assembly.

The best design was judged by Connie Cochran, CEO of Easter Seals UCP of North Carolina and Virginia and his staff. Connie and his staff came to NetApp to receive the playhouses and to talk about their organization and the people it serves.

The vote for the best design was a 3 to 3 tie! Both teams did an amazing job, and they helped create a special place for some special kids to play this summer!


The NetApp Playhouse project originally started at NetApp in Sunnyvale, California. We started the Playhouse project in RTP at the end of 2012 and have completed eleven playhouses so far. NetApp RTP employees will build five more playhouses this year. We are especially excited by the opportunity to build more playhouses for Easter Seals UCP that are accessible to all of the children they serve. Since we started the program in RTP, Durham Habitat has raised $72,000 through the Playhouse project thanks to NetApp and the other local corporations we have helped recruit to the program.


Special thanks to Gene Carlone and the other volunteer from Durham Habitat for leading the project. Additional thanks to the NetApp University Relations staff for helping organize the intern project: Kayla Villwock, Stephanie White


same shoould happen in bangalore office.

Great write-up, and a fantastic way way to establish the key values (and teamwork/energy) that help make NetApp a great place to work.