Houston is a major city not just in Texas, but in America, as its metro area is the fifth largest in the nation with over six million people, while the city proper is the fourth largest in the country with just under 2.2 million people within its boundaries.
With this major American urban area also developing into a leading hub for health care and research, setting your course for Space City (a nickname acquired due to Houston's status as the home of NASA Mission Control) will be a plan that will be met with success for students in a number of fields.
What’s Houston like?
Houston is a flat city situated on a coastal plain near the Gulf of Mexico. This makes it well suited for interns that plan to bike to and from work, but be aware that car culture is alive and well here, so be safe while negotiating the city's busy streets.
Those hoping to get by in Houston without a car will need to find housing within walking distance of METRORail, which runs north to south through Central Houston. Lindale Park, Northline, and Midtown are all excellent places to call home if this is your plan, but for those wanting to call a neighborhood outside the I-610 loop home, having your own car will be essential.
Due to its location in the Deep South, Houston has winters that are very mild, with snow being a very rare occurrence. With an average high temperature in the low 60's in January, you will likely chuckle to yourself as your friends in the north shiver in the cold. Don't be so smug though, as summers in Houston can be very muggy and hot.
With 75% humidity and average highs hitting an eye-popping 94 degrees in August, make sure your air conditioner is functioning before the hot months arrive. Spring and fall are the best times of year in the Houston area, with average day time temperatures in the 70's in March, April and November, and in the low 80's at late as October.
The Houston economy is led by the oil and gas industry, with ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil leading in the market value they create for stakeholders. The Port of Houston ranks as America's largest port in foreign tonnage. With the shipping channel leading to the Gulf of Mexico lined with refineries, it has made the area one of the world's largest petrochemical complexes.
The presence of Hewlett Packard leads non-oil related business, who came to the area after buying out Compaq in 2003. Presently employing 7,000 people in consulting/management, software and manufacturing divisions, HP makes Houston an attractive target for those interested in IT.
What kinds of internships are available in Houston?
Oil giants like Marathon Oil have available positions for internship seekers that span the usual assortment of white collar careers (accounting, financial analysts, human resources, etc), as well as positions unique to O&G like chemical, civil and mechanical engineering, health and safety.
Geology interns are also required on a near continual basis at senior and junior oil firms across town, as the twilight age of oil has constrained availability of experienced geologists (i.e. they need to create more of them ASAP).
At HP, they are seeking business analysts and programmers among other openings, making Houston a good place for those looking to get their tech career off to a good start.
How to find internships in Houston
The oil and gas industry is BIG on interpersonal relationships, so it isn't just a good idea to get out there to networking sessions – it is nearly essential that you do so when company reps come to your campus. If you missed out on this, look into attending events within Houston that can put you into contact with people within the industry. Don't forget to pursue opportunities with junior companies as well, as it easier to get in touch with decision makers in smaller businesses than it is with corporations like ConocoPhillips.
Those looking to get on HP will need to demonstrate an aptitude towards solving real world problems in a technological context. Using LinkedIn and Meetup.com, befriend those working within Hewlett Packard, express interest in joining them as an intern, and pitch them ideas on how an existing process in the world of high-tech could be modified or changed altogether.
Doing so will make you stand out from the pack, as HP is looking for people who will lead the company to greater heights at a time where everything in our daily lives is radically changing.