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From Intern to Intel: How to Own Your Career Path

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We spoke with Engineer Murali Manohar Duggina, who began as an Intel intern and now holds a full-time engineer position. Murali shared some key lessons he learned along the way and explained why coaching is so important to grow professionally and personally. Finally, he offers some tips for young engineers who want to expand and grow their careers.

Murali was brought up in India and moved to the United States to pursue his master's. He earned his degree in Nanoscience from University of New Mexico, and learned about Intel internship opportunities while studying. From the start, Murali knew he wanted to pursue a full-time position with Intel after he completed his internship. "I got the internship and was searching for all the resources that are available for employees, and thats actually when I found Career Connections. From that, I contacted many people asking what kind of job roles I could apply for and when I should start applying."

At first, Murali didn't have great luck when he applied for full-time work at Intel. "I used to apply to all the jobs, but I learned that I cannot apply for permanent employee jobs yet because I'm an intern. I'm not eligible to apply for those. So that saved me a lot of time." It was his connections and Intel mentors that helped Murali refine his approach. With their guidance, he started "targeting the jobs I wanted to apply for, and Career Connections helped me reach out to the hiring manager." Eventually, he landed the job he wanted with Intel in Oregon.

Intel offers many resources to help young technologists build their professional skill sets. The Career Connections site has been an important resource in Murali's rising trajectory at Intel, "it has many resources on how to set up a meeting or interview and get a job aligned to my experience and background. Career connections and coaching sessions really helped me. I understand myself better with coaching and can even see how good leadership works on an effective team."

Coaching is what enables Intel employees to be innovators and impact the world. According to Xiaomei Zhou, Intel’s Vice President of Network Platforms Group, Visual Cloud and Integration Software Engineering, “Coaching is such a hidden and untapped treasure in the corporate world. The coaching process is to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual by bringing a fresh perspective. Much research shows that leaders who have the best coaching skills have better business results. The facilitative leadership style leads to much better emotional engagement and commitment from employees. Intel is a role model in this space. The well-deserved ICF Prism award is a great testimonial. I am proud to be part of Intel’s coaching community.”

Murali credits great coaches for his professional development, "I can see a difference with coaching and without coaching. With coaching, I'm able to identify what great leadership is. For example, my current manager Asad Iqbal, encourages everyone on the team to speak up and bring their ideas. He lets others speak and values their ideas. And again, if that idea is good, we try to implement it; if not, he'll give feedback. He respects your ideas, and that creates a safe space—I call it a psychologically safe environment."

Trust is an important component of innovation. One must feel comfortable sharing their ideas if we want to make something wonderful. Murali sees this as an important part of collaborative teams, "we build trust, and in the future, if we want to open up and discuss more ideas, there's no fear of judging. Especially because there are many experienced engineers here."

Murali is grateful for all the resources and opportunities that Intel offers and is already paying it forward. He's recently facilitated mock interviews with aspiring colleagues who are trying to land Intel roles. He offers feedback on their responses and shows them how to highlight their skills and impact. Murali is passionate about sharing his lessons and helping others find more success in their careers. "I want to share my experience—how my internship became a full-time job and how I used all these resources to form my resume." Along with mentoring college students, Murali is "helping high school students apply for summer programs and colleges, math preparation, and showing them how to write college essays. We help them identify what they're really interested in and how to find the programs that offer scholarships and funding opportunities."

Recently, Murali was awarded a Fellowship from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and is currently working with the museum to develop new learning resources for visitors. Murali and other OMSI Fellows are "attending sessions and brainstorming how we can create hands-on activities for the work we are doing. There are fundamental concepts in semiconductor chip manufacturing, and I want to create hands-on activities on these core concepts—for example, diffusion. Diffusion is nothing more than a higher concentration to a lower concentration. So, I can place M&Ms on a plate and put water in. After a while, the color from the candy will diffuse to a lower concentration area. Then I can relate that to semiconductor manufacturing and why it is important."

Murali believes we need to drive more interest into semiconductors, "my ultimate goal for doing this is because we have very limited engineers in the semiconductor industry. The future is better semiconductors, for sure. Without semiconductors—there's no future. About 1 million people visit OMSI every year; if only 1% get inspired and take material science or nanoscience in their undergrad or in their grad school and become process engineers or design engineers—they can make better chips in the future. It's about creating awareness because that's how I got interested."

Awareness is critical to expanding interest in tech careers. Murali was initially discouraged from pursuing nanoscience, "when I was trying to apply for nanoscience, everyone was saying there are no jobs in nanotech. You have to take computer science jobs, even if you do nanoscience. Many people are not aware that there are jobs in the semiconductor industry. So, I want to create that awareness—there are opportunities, and you can be part of the next generation."

What is Murali's advice for young engineers pursuing a career with Intel? "We have to own our careers, and when we need help, we have to reach out to career coaches, mentors, advisors and trainers. There are many wonderful people who take time and advice. The only way to get help is to ask for it."