Young man in Michigan with autism gets paid internship with tech company


Courtesy: U.S. Department of Education

BOISE, ID (WLNS) – A partnership between companies and non-profit organizations came together to help one young man land an internship and invaluable experience.

Ethan, a young man with autism, secured a paid internship with HP Inc. last spring, according to a post by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

Michigan Rehabilitation Services in Marquette partnered with the Michigan Technological University to identify students to participate in HP Inc.’s Spectrum Success Program.

Ethan was selected to fly to HP’s headquarters in Boise, Idaho to attend a weeklong training and interview program.

After three days of activities to help applicants develop better interview skills, several HP Inc. managers interviewed Ethan and offered him a computer science internship with its Firmware team.

Ethan returned to Boise two months later to start his internship.

Courtesy: U.S. Department of Education

HP Inc. encouraged Ethan to get to know other staff and take time to socialize with colleagues at lunch and during breaks. Ethan said this was invaluable to him as it allowed him to feel like he “finally found his people” instead of struggling to fit in.

During his internship, Ethan worked on a programming project to free up memory in a new printer. Ethan said he completed this project, which included coding in an HP codebase, ahead of schedule and successfully presented his work at HP Inc.’s Intern Fair.

Ethan used the extra time to identify other ways to use the application and said he found even more applications for the process that he used on his main project. These applications could allow the team to save money in their future products, according to Ethan.

Ethan, who is currently finishing his senior year as a Computer Science major at Michigan Technological University, said the experience at HP Inc. was priceless as it provided him the opportunity to develop confidence in himself as well as his abilities to work with others.

“The entire process has made a huge impact on a person like Ethan who just wants to be understood and accepted for his amazing talents,” Ethan’s mother said. “Providing people on the spectrum the chance to shine is not just a win for them, but also for the companies willing to invest in them.”

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