Impacting the Future: Students@Work Program


The North Carolina Students@Work program was created by former First Gentleman Bob Eaves (husband of former Gov. Bev Perdue) and the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) as a means to get middle school students engaged and thinking about their future. NetApp RTP employees across various functions had an opportunity to visit Harnett County and participate in this program the week of Feb 24 - Mar 1.  Our goal was to interact with 6th, 7th and 8th graders, educate and inform them of the importance of making good decisions and possibilities a good education can offer.


Being in middle school is a hard transitions for a lot of our youth, it was for me.  I spent most of my days wondering what I wanted to do, where I fit in and what it would take to realize my aspirations.  When we went to speak to these students, I realized they have the same look that I did.  The difference is that they have people that care to come out and talk to them, and not at them, about what lies on the horizon and hope to make a difference.


This was my second year being a team lead assigned to Coats - Erwin Middle School.  It has been a pleasure both years representing NetApp getting to know the faculty and students.  My team included colleagues from Information Engineering, Software QA and Marketing providing a diverse view from NetApp employees.  We held two sessions and shared who NetApp is, what we do and how they can join our Great Place To Work.


Here are some of the highlights from our Q&A session.


Question:  What format do we store our data on (Do we use CD's)?

Answer:  Hard drives and flash storage as it provides higher capacity and faster access.


Question:  Is Marketing the main thing that we do at NetApp?

Answer: Told them Marketing is the best team, but not the main thing we do in jest.  We told them how all NetApp Business Units work together for the success of the company and that we are all responsible for innovating in our functions.


Questions:  Where is NetApp located?

Answer:  Headquarters is in Sunnyvale CA, but we are based out of the Morrisville/Research Triangle Park location in Wake County.


Question:  What makes NetApp a great place to work?

Answer:  The team gave back stories from companies that we have worked at before and how NetApp has just gone far and beyond our expectations as a company to work for.


Question:  Does NetApp give you free pancakes for employee appreciation week?

Answer:  Yes and referenced the recent free pancake breakfast from a couple of weeks ago.  The student went on to ask if we had bacon and grits as well and was happy to know that we have those items as well.  We successfully recruited a dual sport athlete away from the NBA and NFL.


Question:  How much education is required to work at NetApp?

Answer: Referenced the NCSA program and how most of our employees have at least a Bachelor's degree in a technology or business field to support their respective job functions.


Surprisingly, no one asked us how much we make this year as it was a popular question among students and teachers the previous year.


All in all it was a great time to spend with the students, teachers and staff.  Having done this for two years now, I think that this years group were more focused and seemingly paid closer attention.  There were some sharp students in both classes that asked good questions.  It's hard to gauge right now, but I would bet there will be one or two students per class would sign up for the NCSA program offered at Wake Tech Community College.  This in itself is a win for NetApp and more importantly the future for these students.

huge thanks to the NetApp team that went to present to the students (Amanda Herbin, Li Li, Nandy Viswanathan and Zack Kirby), Carol Hedly and Greg Keller for organizing, the RTP EBC and Allison Najman for providing extra NetApp swag to hand out.