The Product Manager Internship – Expectations vs Reality

This summer I was fortunate enough to enjoy an internship in one of the top rising MBA careers – Product Management at a Tech firm. More specifically, I was a Product Manager intern at HP, Inc. in Houston, Texas. I had a great experience that exceeded my expectations of what an internship might be and thought some things would be worth sharing, especially if it helps any prospective MBA Product Managers out there!

Expectations:

  • Product Type – I thought I would likely be assigned to a hardware product or software product and jump into developing new features for the product.
  • Project Time – I was expecting to have close to my full 12 week internship to get up to speed and work on my project.
  • Product Manager Role – I was hoping to get really good exposure to the product manager role and find out if that was indeed what I wanted to do post-MBA.
  • HP Culture – I wanted to learn if I was a good fit for the HP culture and if it was somewhere I would want to work post MBA.
  • Utilize Tepper Experience – I was curious how my Tepper experience would translate to the internship and whether or not I was prepared to be a product manager.

Reality:

  • Product Type – I actually worked on a DaaS (Device as a Service) product which was even more complex and interesting than I thought it would be! My product had a little bit of everything including hardware, software, and service components – I had my work cut out for me learning about several different technical pieces as well as getting to know the different teams and touchpoints involved.
  • Project Time – Realistically, I actually only had about 8 weeks to complete the bulk of my project before transitioning focus more to presentations. At some point more of my time was spent presenting and socializing the work I had completed. I presented my work to many different teams for many different reasons – I presented to other interns, to the management team, to my technical team, to executives, and more! This was a bit unexpected and I wish I had known this so I would have had even more to present.
  • Product Manager Role – I very much enjoyed my role and I was absolutely able to gain experience acting as a product manager. I designed a product while working with several different cross functional teams, influencing without authority and translating what I thought were the most important customer needs into a defined product. I very much appreciated the high impact project work I was given – it was NOT simplified whatsoever for an intern. If I hadn’t done it, that would have simply meant another product manager on my team would have had to do it. My project was directly tied to a launch date and expected revenue coming in!
  • HP Culture – I was very impressed by the HP culture and the intern programming overall for the summer. We had intern events multiple times per week that were very diverse – everything from social events (with or without drinking) to community service to personal growth (like improving presentation skills or personal finance). Through the events and my experience, I could really tell that HP is serious about empowering their employees to be successful at whatever they want to do.
  • Utilizing Tepper Experience – I really was not sure at all how my Tepper knowledge would translate to my internship, and I ended up using more than I thought I would! Some Tepper classes came in handy like Tech Strategy (understanding my complex tech product market) or Finance (building a valuation model for my project). I took advantage of my networking skills from Tepper by setting up numerous coffee chats and getting to know different teams, hiring managers, and products. Overall, the collaborative and intelligent Tepper community translated well to the HP environment.

I consider myself lucky to have gotten the experience I did and am looking forward to taking my career further. As my internship wraps up, i’m grateful for the Tepper journey and experiences that have led me here and am excited to see where my second year takes me!

Christopher Chen | MBA 2020

Product Manager Intern at HP Inc
Chris grew up in Naperville, IL, and graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Industrial Engineering. He has over 8 years of experience in software and technology roles that he is bringing to both the B&T Board as well as the ABA Board. He is also an avid boxer, basketball player, and foodie traveler.
Christopher Chen | MBA 2020

Latest posts by Christopher Chen | MBA 2020 (see all)

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *