Lands summer internship with upscale car company

It’s hard to tell who is more excited about Brett Roberts’ summer internship at Tesla – Roberts or his professor, Jonathan Shu.

Shu, who calls Tesla “one of the hottest companies in Silicon Valley,” said he “nagged” his students to apply for summer jobs, and specifically mentioned Tesla, the electric car company headquartered in Palo Alto. (Manufacturing and production take place at the former Nummi plant in Fremont.)

Brett RobertsRoberts followed up on the suggestion, in part because his best friend “always talked about how much he wanted to work at Tesla.” An application to work in the company’s information technology division brought a call from a recruiter and a conversation that covered the basics. A second call followed, from the person to whom he would be reporting.

“The second call was a technical interview specifically for the IT Applications intern position,” Roberts said. “The interview process was great.”

An offer followed shortly after the second call, which is a bit ironic since Roberts admits he’s not a huge car guy or an environmentalist. “But I do enjoy sustainability and nice cars,” he said with a laugh.

“Elon Musk is the real reason I want to work for this company,” he said, referring to the visionary business magnate, investor and inventor who is CEO and chief product architect of Tesla. “The risks he has taken really inspire me.”

Roberts will work at the factory in Fremont. “I will be doing a lot of manufacturing execution software (MES) support, and following analysts around to watch how they work and interact with clients,” Roberts said. MES are computerized systems in manufacturing – “information about when things have been shipped, what’s been ordered, progression. It really improves product output.”

Roberts, the 2013-14 student body president, is a senior computer science major with a concentration in software engineering. He will graduate in December.

“When I graduate, I really would love to work for Tesla full-time,” he said. “I think this internship is a good first step toward trying to get a job there.”