thomas pena sits at a desk in coates library, his hand on a computer mouse, while looking at a dell computer
To Excel at Dell
Thomás Peña ’22 secures not one, not two, but three internships with Dell Technologies
Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Thomás Peña ’22 can confidently say he worked with someone on every single continent—well, maybe not Antarctica—during his summer internship.

Thomás spent this past summer interning with Dell Technologies, working on network optimization projects within the supply chain of the company. With his team of two other interns, he optimized the process of getting Dell products to customers, “whether it was individual boxes with one laptop or for businesses with thousands of laptops,” he says. His team would examine shipping rates for carriers in more than 40 countries, reoptimizing their thresholds based on the weight and dimensions of the boxes, as well as the distance between the packing site and the customer.

With a double major in business analytics and technology (BAT) and finance, and minoring in data science, Thomás has now completed two internships with Dell that bookend the beginning and end of the company’s supply chain. His first internship with Dell in Summer 2020 focused on procurement, which is toward the beginning of the supply chain. Thomás and his intern team created business intelligence to balance hard drive supply at inventory hubs around the world, connecting centers with high supply and low supply to work with each other for cost-effective inventory solutions.

Thomás will return after graduation for yet another summer internship, this time as a graduate student intern, with Dell before going to graduate school for his master’s degree in business analytics. Originally from Roma, Texas, Thomás is part of Trinity’s McNair Scholars program, which helps first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented college students prepare for graduate school. He then plans to return to Dell full-time after graduating.

“I think it's crazy how everything is in line already for the next two years,” Thomás says. “Now that I am two internships in and one in the future, I think it's probably one of the greatest opportunities ever in terms of widening my experience and my perspective within my actual field that I want to work in. I've been able to use my skills within business analytics, data science, and finance, applying them to real-world problems within technology.”

thomas pena smiles at dual dell monitors in coates library
The Next Generation

Thomás joined Dell as part of the Dell Scholars program, a highly selective program specific to sophomore students who self-identify as Black/African-American and/or Hispanic/Latinx. Thomás and his Trinity classmate, Chikanma Ibeh ’22, were two out of just 12 students selected globally for the program’s inaugural cohort in 2019. 

The Dell Scholars program begins developing students earlier in their academic career—between their sophomore and junior years—and gives them two summer internships instead of just one. If all goes well, the students are then offered a full-time job at Dell after graduation. Throughout the process, students are also given scholarships, technology, and mentorship with C-Suite executives at Dell.

Thomás has spent the past two years recruiting more Trinity students into the Dell Scholars program. He visits sophomore-specific engineering and business classes at Trinity, describing his experience, offering to connect the students with Dell, and even helping them practice interview questions. 

“I think my motivation for that was thinking about when I was a sophomore and my hesitancy initially,” Thomás says. “Let me be the middleman—rather than a sophomore speaking to a professional, they can have that peer to peer discussion. It motivates other people from backgrounds similar to mine, too, to get these opportunities. It's been a really good experience to connect with the classes below me and also empower the next generation of people in technology.”

Thomás saw his efforts pay off with the 2020 class of Dell Scholars. Three Trinity students were selected to be part of the program: Tomas Colazo ’23, Andrea Tamez ’23, and Madison Larrea ’23.

“I helped Tomas and Andrea, and both of them got the internship, so I feel like I have a hundred percent success rate,” Thomás laughs. 

Ultimately, he hopes to build momentum and a continuing pipeline of Tigers helping Tigers: “Like how I helped the sophomores—now juniors—I'm hoping now the juniors will help the sophomores and create that tradition of, ‘Okay, I’ve finished my first summer [internship], and now let's give back to people in the class below me.’”

thomas pena wears a dell technologies shirt and walks near the magic stones on trinity's campus with friends
Taking a Chance

Part of the inaugural Dell Scholars cohort, Thomás himself was also hired into the program through a recent alumnus, Starjjil Shelvin ’19. But he says he initially counted himself out of the opportunity.

“I had never known anyone who worked in tech. I don't have any family who works in this industry at all,” Thomás says. “So, I didn't see myself within this industry.”

That’s why, when his BAT professor and research mentor, Tianxi Dong, Ph.D., first gave him the flier for the Dell Scholars program, Thomás shoved it in his backpack and forgot about it. A couple months later, he pulled out the crumpled paper, giving it a closer look and realizing the contact information was for a new graduate—way less intimidating than an anonymous name or number. Though Thomás just barely didn’t meet the minimum GPA requirement, he still reached out to Starjjil, and the rest is history.

“He could see my passion and my work ethic,” Thomás says. “I think I'm a very hard worker, and just him being able to advocate for me that I did have potential, even though I didn't fit this specific standard of being at (a certain GPA), I think that really shows the investment both through relations here at Trinity, but also through Dell. They're able to see those people who have some sort of potential or passion to come into technology or any industry, and really help them out and help them create those connections and give them the experience that I had.” 

Starjjil Shelvin '19 (left) and Aroosa Ajani '18 (right) are part of a team of young alumni who recruit Trinity students into Dell Technologies.

A Reputation in Recruiting

Starjjil is part of a team of young Trinity alumni who recruit Trinity students not only for the Dell Scholars program, but also for junior year internships as well as full-time post-graduate jobs. This team, made up of Starjjil, Aroosa Ajani ’18, Shivali Kansagra ’18, Paulina Pastrana ’17, Manveena Singh ’20, and Lilian Utts ’19, is just one of the benefits of Trinity being a core recruiting school. In 2019, Trinity was selected for Dell’s shortlist of “core partner” universities in its supply chain division. Core partner universities have dedicated teams of alumni within Dell who recruit specifically from their own school for internships and jobs that applicants, otherwise, would have to apply for externally. 

“Your most recent Trinity graduates are helping create that pipeline from Trinity to Dell,” Thomás says. “That comes with the perks of being a recruiter school, that students have direct access to these opportunities.”

It also helps that Trinity students are sure bets when it comes to hiring.

“A lot of Trinity students have a reputation when they go to Dell,” Thomás says. “Every Trinity student always does exceedingly well. I think it shows you the power of Trinity professors and the curriculum.

For Thomás specifically, he thanks his BAT curriculum for its hands-on nature in preparing him for his internships. The BAT program partners with dozens of companies and nonprofits for case study materials in the classroom, including Goodwill Industries-SA and Santikos Entertainment. 

“From my experience within the BAT program, every class has so many projects, so you're able to get that real experience,” Thomás says. “I think all the professors being able to provide this individualized education—being able to tailor each education to each student here at Trinity—I think that really helps us stand out.”

As Thomás returns to Dell this coming summer, here’s hoping he can finally cross Antarctica off his list. 

Molly Mohr Bruni is the managing editor for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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