In this edition of Insight’s summer blog, Astha Agarwal discusses her internship at Facebook, and the life at Facebook Headquarters located in the Bay Area.
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It was a fantasy to work at one of the largest and well-known companies in my field of interest, and Facebook is well sought after, with good reviews from seniors. It touches a lot of people everyday (and more frequently of course), and work there is high impact and relatable. Of course, working at Facebook comes with its really nice perks.
Facebook hires interns via the Placement Cell, and their interviews happen in August. It is one of the first companies to hire, owing to its popularity. The selection process is fairly straight forward. There is one coding round, to assess applicants’ technical skills, after which there are two interviews, both technical in nature. Results are released soon after, and this year, two students were picked.
There is no specific preparation required for the internship. Facebook uses a lot of different technologies and they don’t expect you to know all of them. However, they soon tell you about the team you will be working with, and you can learn about the coding language, development environment etc. before leaving, if required.
The Facebook HQ:
The first thing that hit me when I got here was the overwhelming infrastructure provided. Coupled with the fact that it is located in the Bay area, the magnanimity of the setting is intimidating for a newbie. It settles in rather quickly though, and I began to enjoy it all soon. People all around are very friendly, and are easily approachable. The best thing about working at Facebook is that it gives the impression of being in the in between phase of a startup and a huge company, with not too many employees, and at the same time, has a huge impact on lives. As far as work is concerned, we were given enough time to settle in and to get comfortable with the existing code. The first week was all about learning lessons about technical stuff we would be working on, and there was a short bootcamp to help us get started off. The immediate work environment was amazing. I was working on a huge screen for the first time, and I loved it.
All the Free Stuff – Accommodation, Travel and Food:
The housing provided to us was amazing, and everything was set up before we arrived. We made no extra efforts while settling in. The everyday commute to office was using shuttles provided by Facebook, particularly for interns. Facebook has a diverse culture, with people from many different countries working at the same place. So, we had a wide variety of food options including Indian cuisine.
This is How we Roll:
One thing I liked about the place was the way that people smile at strangers, even when you are taking a walk in the surroundings and nothing more. It makes your day. People have fun on the weekends, and it is starkly different from the culture in India, where you’re left about completing your pending work on the weekends too. Apart from this, there is the usual Facebook “swag” to boast about.
There were a lot of intern “lightning” talks, where we were told about cool things built at Facebook; a couple of Hackathons, one where my group improved an internal tool, winning the second prize. The hack has already been accepted and is being used by the employees. There is this culture of corporate Fridays, where we have an optional formal clothing photo-shoot. Facebook also organizes a Game Day, which is an all day event for employees. Everyone is assigned a group (there are just 4 groups in all), and you gain points for your group. The highlight is that Zuckerberg plays too! As an informal exercise, we went for wine tasting, where we went to a mountain winery with the
[pullquote]The highlight is that Zuckerberg plays too![/pullquote]
team as a part of an offsite team session. We were also given ripsticks lessons, which is basically like skateboarding, and is a part of Facebook culture. We also have monthly Bike-to-Work days where employees are encouraged to come to office by bicycles by giving away cool swag.
Then there’s white water rafting, a long three day Hackathon, and the San Francisco pride parade, where, as a symbol of support to the LGBTQ community – we colored the central campus area with chalk (the Hack Square).
[pullquote] … and got invited over to dinner by Sheryl Sandberg.[/pullquote]
On a side note, we witnessed Slingshot release, and got invited over to dinner by Sheryl Sandberg. As you must have gotten the idea, there is a lot of stuff to do outside of work, and it is a lot of fun.
Traveling, and Interesting Places to See:
We were located very close to San Francisco, and we saw a large part of the city. Some such spots were the Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks, Fishermen’s Wharf and Lombard Street. We also went to Los Angeles, where we got a very beautiful view of the city at night from the Griffith observatory. Besides, we saw Universal Studios, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the pretty Santa Monica beach. Besides, there were numerous intern events on weekends, one of which was a trip to the California academy of Sciences. We were also taken for a hiking trip to Muir Woods. A highlight was the Santa Cruz boardwalk, which is an amusement park setup on a beach.
It was a summer well spent. I have done internships before, but this has been the most satisfying experience as an intern for me. As a Facebook user, I always used to admire the scale at which Facebook operates. Now, I know a lot of things that went into making it possible. It has been a demystifying experience in terms of learning the operation of Facebook. Life is interesting and very lively here, and it’s a wonderful place to be in.