Advancing Life & Work

National Intern of the Year


Four years ago, I was faced with the challenge of making a defining career choice. I had done my research, and quite honestly, I picked the path that had the most promise later down the road. My choice was a software developer. A stubborn person by nature, I knew once I committed, there was no going back. Unlike most people who choose the same career path as me, I didn’t grow up obsessed with technology, taking apart computers and putting them back together, or writing mini game programs for fun. Four years ago, I couldn’t even tell you what a software developer was, or what they provided for the growing business environment. Some might say, there was a disadvantaged learning curve. The mindset it takes to be a software developer didn’t come naturally to me at all. I had to change the way my mind processed information in order to keep up with my peers. I studied harder, pushed myself further and wrote more programs than anyone in my classes, after all – practice makes perfect.  Most of my peers had been practicing their whole lives, and I was determined to catch up.

There were many times that I questioned choosing the Information Systems Major, but quitters never win – so giving up wasn’t an option! Over time, the material clicked and the creative juices started flowing into my work! Not only were my programs sound logically, but each one had a flare of “me” in it. Organization, colorful visuals, and making things pretty are important details, and my strength. I finally found my niche! Beautifully designed programs, with the proper logic, and fun/easy customer use was my ultimate goal for each project. Finally! I had an advantage on my peers and a way to stand out in my classes and multiple internships.

From that point forward, I embraced the uniqueness. Going in a different direction was how I would succeed. Thinking outside of the box and considering different angles during planning allowed me to differentiate in class. Joining the Management Information Systems career path was one of the best decisions I ever made. Talking to people and managing business activities are a perfect blend of my strengths. Through the internship at HPE and through my classes at UCA, eventually my skills as a business analyst and a project manager significantly improved. Programming was a challenge, but I was great at guiding people and analyzing data naturally. I became a hybrid, and I understand the IT market has a large need for those qualities.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise was the company I was meant to work for. It was a perfect accident that started at a UCA career fair one day. I wasn’t even looking for a job, because I already had an internship!  The entire interview process was eye-opening. I didn’t go into the interview trying to brag about my accomplishments, but with a willing desire to LEARN. I quickly realized that my strengths would be a good fit for the company, and I was excited to receive the offer, confirming HPE felt the same way.

HPE made it possible for me to perfect the skills already acquired because of one simple reason. I was not expected to color within the lines. Every project I have received here was at my discretion for style and performance. My manager did not hand me a template with directions, she handed me a blank sheet of paper and said “Make it work. Here is your timeline”.  She challenged my peers and me every single day on the job. Eventually, I jumped at every project that was offered because the opportunities were endless, and she let me have creative freedom.

The number one thing HPE has given me as an employee is a chance to thrive by being different. I can honestly say that if I would’ve tried to fit myself into the boundaries of what a software developer is supposed to do, I would’ve failed. So break those boundaries, be yourself, and be confident that you can do anything you set your mind to!

Lastly, none of this would be possible without the tremendous amount of love and support I was shown by my work family, and my wonderful manager, Hannah Osborne. Thank you for seeing something in me that day at the career fair. You have forever impacted my life, and I couldn’t ask for a better inspiration to learn from.

About the author

Eryka Williams, HPE InternEryka Williams, HPE Intern

Eryka is a fun-loving, big hearted, intelligent and creative person.  She understands the need to “Work Hard, Play Hard.” A frequent volunteer for multiple charitable organizations shows her commitment to giving back to the community. Her strengths support a “hybrid” employee who could be a developer, business analyst or project manager.

Not only this, but she also brings color and excitement to her projects. A positive attitude goes a long way working with teams, and she consistently exudes positivity.  Eryka has an amazing future ahead of her!

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About the Author


Employer brand and digital media evangelist. Proactively searching for new trends and best in class practices to find, converse, share, engage and refer potential candidates and bring the best Talent for the company.

Edward Castillo

Good work Ms. Williams, I can relate so much to you. It's good to see success achieved by putting mind, body and soul at what we love, and see the fruits thereof.


Brilliant example of successful re-orientation in carreer path! Well done Eryka and good luck in future projects and personality growth! Inspiring and very good written story. Thank you for sharing it:)