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The Inside Scoop on Intel Costa Rica

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Note from the editor: Misconceptions can be funny sometimes. You think you know something and then all of a sudden, boom, your world is changed!  Today’s guest blogger, José Julián, aka JJ, has gone through the experience many times when people ask him about working at Intel. JJ is currently the Lab Systems Manager at Intel Costa Rica. He holds an Electrical Engineering degree and an MBA with emphasis on Operations Management. In his spare time, you can find him playing at local clubs and restaurants or making music with his friends and family. 

When people on the street (high school and college students, friends, family members, strangers) find out that I work at Intel in our Costa Rica Assembly and Test plant, the dialogue typically goes something like this:

John Doe: Oh Intel! That’s the computer company right?

Me: Yup that’s the one; the computer chip company. We make the components that make computers work and run the internet.

John Doe: Hmm sounds cool. But what’s it like to work there?

Me: What do you think it’s like?

John Doe: I’ve heard it’s really hard work.

Me: Really? How so?

John Doe: Well, it is long hours of repetitive manual labor… kind of like a textile assembly plant… you know? Don’t you get bored?

Me: (insert chuckle and amused laugh) That’s what you think goes on at Intel?

John Doe: That’s the word on the street.

JJ_Travel1.jpgMe: Well first let me tell you that work at Intel is far from repetitive and boring. We’re in the computer electronics and semiconductor industry. Things here move extremely fast. One day you’re working on the latest generation of desktop and server microprocessors, monitoring production quality, solving complex technical problems applying statistical methods, Lean Six Sigma methods or analyzing semiconductor defects using state of the art architecture simulators, testing equipment and electron microscopes that no one else in Latin America has access to. The next day you’re on a plane flying to the USA or Asia to live and work on the development of the next generation processors, side by side with people from all nationalities, cultures and backgrounds such as engineers, chemists, physicists, designers, architects, etc. Still sounds boring?

John Doe: Wow! I had no idea you guys did all that!

Me: Yeah, all that and then some. I work in the Quality and Reliability Failure Analysis labs for example. We support the manufacturing process and make sure all our products go out the door exceeding industry standards for Quality and Reliability. We’re the gate keepers and brand ambassadors if you will.

John Doe: So what exactly do you do?

Me: Let me see… how I can put this in simple terms... Our group is like the CSI team, you know the one on the TV show?

John Doe: Oh yeah!! The guys that have to figure out why and how someone was killed and then catch the bad guy so it doesn’t happen again.

Me: That’s the one. Just change the deceased person for a computer chip, but the rest of it is pretty much the same. We get to play detective, use a bunch of fancy gadgets, catch the culprit and implement corrective actions to avoid reoccurrence. Well maybe just take away the fancy car chases and the guns.

John Doe: Man, that’s awesome! So what type of people work there?

Me: All sorts of people with different backgrounds; engineers and scientists mostly but we also have marketers, HR professionals, finance types—there are lots of different career paths at Intel. Beyond your degree we look for people that are passionate about innovation; entrepreneurs and creative types that can spot a problem and use innovative methods to solve them. Being fluent in English is also a must. Remember the part where we get on planes to work in the US and Asia? I lived 2 years in the US working with designers in Oregon, California and Arizona and I also lived in Malaysia for a year to  learn new failure analysis techniques to implement back home in Costa Rica.

John Doe: Malaysia! That must have been something!

Me: You bet! Since then I’ve been to China, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, and Taiwan, all with Intel. You can’t say you know about a culture until you’ve sat down to have lunch at a downtown market, eating foods whose names you can’t pronounce and swapping stories with a local about how different or similar your childhoods were. This one time I even got invited to their wedding to play guitar and sing at their reception party.

John Doe: You did all that?

JJ_Music1.jpgMe: True story. With Intel I’ve been able to travel the world and grow not only as a professional but as a person. And for that I’m grateful. Sure it’s demanding and high paced, but it has its rewards. Did I ever think I’d be on a stage in Vietnam singing to a bunch of people I didn’t know? Never in my dreams! But that’s the thing with Intel. If you have  passion and are disciplined, the sky’s the limit. I formed a band with my co-workers back home and we play at local functions, for example. So I can be a musician and an engineer at the same time.

John Doe: So how did you join Intel?

Me: I worked with Intel even before I worked at Intel. Back in 1999 I was taking my final college courses in Electrical Engineering when we were invited to the university’s auditorium to attend an exposition by Intel recruiting. I attended the exposition and liked what I heard. That led to a field trip to their manufacturing plant and as soon as I walked through the front lobby I knew that is where I wanted to work. That field trip led to an internship position to work on a robotics project where I was in charge of developing a small robot handler to perform remote testing of parts over the internet. Oh, and the robot had to be operated from Costa Rica to run tests in the USA or Malaysia. After 6 months of hard work, I had a working system and next thing I know I’m on a plane to Oregon to install the thing. Shortly after that experience, I was formally hired as a full time Failure Analysis engineer where for 5 years I worked solving complex cases and learning as much as I could from peers all over the world. Remember my 3 years abroad in the US and Malaysia? In 2008 I went on to take a management position within the Quality and Reliability labs where I’m in charge of Operations, maintenance, thermo-mechanical stress, calibration and electro static discharge services. It’s demanding and dynamic but I also have the possibility to give back to the community through volunteer work. I started out as an intern, and over the last 13 years I’ve been a mentor to 8 different students. I also volunteer as judge at regional and national science fairs and then mentor the students that go on to compete (and win!) at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

John Doe: So it’s nothing like they say it is then?!

Me: I’m glad you got a better picture of what we do. So, you know anyone interested in working with us?

If you or someone you know is interested in joining our Intel team, check out our open positions at www.intel.com/jobs If you’d like to learn more about our culture, expore our Life at Intel site or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to get the latest news about the company, our people and our culture.