advertisement
advertisement

Diary Of An Ex-Facebook Intern

“I had one of the best summers of my life, and I can’t imagine it being any better.”

Diary Of An Ex-Facebook Intern
[Photo: courtesy of Facebook]

Facebook has had a huge impact on our lives: The company essentially owns a large part of the world’s social media user base with its products from Facebook itself, to Instagram, to WhatsApp playing an integral part in how we communicate with our family and friends and interact with brands, media, and public figures.

advertisement

Given how much the company’s products influence our social media, and now, real-world lives, it’s no wonder why Facebook is one of the most coveted places to intern with year after year.  Which means that competition for a Facebook internship is fierce. We spoke with Utkarsh Sharma, a final year student at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, to find out how he got an internship with the company and what advice he gives for people who hope to land one there too. His internship went so well, Facebook offered him a full-time job as a software engineer after he graduates this year.

On His Internship Role At Facebook

My internship at Facebook London was in the summer of 2016 when I was 22 years old. It was a 12-week internship from May to August. I was a software engineering intern at Facebook, and was a member of an ads team based in the London office. The team works on building the infrastructure behind one of the ads products, which aims to allow small and medium local businesses to reach local audiences, and also allows larger retailers with multiple locations to use the local awareness aspect.

On How He Found Out About The Facebook Internship

I had heard about Facebook internships during the second year of university. What made it stick in my mind was how amazingly people spoke of it, and how upon subsequent googling, I ended up reading about it as being one of the best internships in the tech world. Being an electrical engineering major with an interest in coding, the position of a software engineering intern was the most natural choice for me.

I applied for the internship in my fourth year of studies (I’m in a five-year dual degree program). I very nearly did not apply for the Facebook internship because I didn’t believe that I would get it. However, when a college senior who works at Facebook encouraged me to apply for the internship, I decided to take the plunge and give it my best.

On The Interview Process With Facebook

A few days after I was referred, I received an email from a recruiter with a link for an automated online coding test. After I passed the test, I had multiple phone interviews. The interviews are held one at a time, with the next ones generally scheduled condition to performance in the previous interviews. This adds to the nervousness as each interview becomes very important, and the opportunity to redeem oneself in the future interviews might not present itself.

I actually wasn’t that nervous because at the time of my interviews with Facebook I already had another offer at company where I wanted to intern. I think this helped, as it reduced the performance pressure on me.

advertisement

On The Qualities That Helped Him Score A Facebook Internship

Why I got the internship is a question I doubt I ever will be able to perfectly answer. I like to think it as a right mixture of hard work and luck. While being good at algorithms and data structures is a prerequisite, it is by no means the complete story. There are a lot of factors that go into someone getting hired at Facebook, including technical ability and a passion for the mission.

One of the factors which I feel helped me greatly was that I naturally tend to speak a lot, and so I was good at explaining my thought process while coding. This allowed the interviewer to have a good view at my thought process, and thus allowed them to build a better judgment on my skills.

On The Average Workday Of A Facebook Intern

One of the most empowering aspects of working as an intern at Facebook was that you were treated at par with a new full-time employee. I got to decide the way I wanted to handle my tasks. Facebook places a lot of trust in their interns.

My average day at the company was a mixture of a few sessions of coding and reviewing other people’s code, meetings, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and infinite breaks involving the snack areas and the foosball tables.

On Some Of His Best Experiences As A Facebook Intern

One of the highlights was the Facebook summer hackathon. Hackathons are events where people code for a fixed period of time to make anything they want to. Hackathons are an integral part of the culture of Facebook and some of the best features of today are the result of past hackathons.

Facebook organized the hackathon inside a bowling arena in the O2 stadium of London. Demoing a project at the end of the hackathon that I and a fellow intern made after 11 hours of hacking away was icing on the cake for me. The amount of praise it received followed by it now being used as an internal tool is more than what I could’ve asked for.

advertisement

Another set of events tailored for the interns were the Q&As. Throughout the internship, there were these were hour-long sessions where interns got to ask questions and listen to some of the most prominent people of Facebook, including even Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg. These Q&As were great experiences, with no question being deemed as off limits.

On the purely fun side of things, the Facebook summer party towards the end of my internship was carnival themed and a lot of fun and lasted for over 12 hours.

On Whether Facebook Could Improve Its Internship Experience

The internship was a perfect experience, with a healthy mix of work with fun with a lot of surprises sprinkled on top. They took care of every single thing imaginable; housing, travel, local transportation, food, and visa.  My team was very supportive towards me, and I worked on real problems, which made an actual impact. I had one of the best summers of my life, and I can’t imagine it being any better.

On The Lasting Benefits Of A Facebook Internship

It would not be an overstatement to say that the Facebook internship changed my life. On the second last day of my internship, my team manager called me in a meeting and let me know that Facebook would be glad to have me back as a full-time employee. A year or two ago, this was a possibility that I would have considered only in my wildest dreams. The summer was a great learning experience for me, and I picked up skills which I wouldn’t have working on my own.

On What Others Could Do To Land An Internship At Facebook

Everyone’s case is different and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all advice that will work. I’d say that there’s more to coding and software engineering in general than sitting in front of a screen and mashing out code. There a lot of other skills such as working in a team that are equally important. Also, doing side projects or writing code for your own pleasure is a great and fulfilling way to learn.

Video