4 Reasons Why You Should Apply to Facebook University, Especially If You’re a Woman
This is a piece I wrote last June for my personal blog L.oad E.ffective A.ddress that was linked on TechCrunch. I am re-posting it here since applications for Facebook University close end of this month.
If you’ve felt even the slightest inkling of interest in Computer Science, you should apply to the Facebook University (FBU)internship, an all-freshmen program Facebook began offering the summer of 2013. If you’re a woman, you should really apply.
Why am I going all Billy Mays for FBU? For one, I totally buy Facebook’s sugar-coated mission of “making the world more open and connected,” and two, I was lucky to be part of the guinea pig class of FBU, an experience that has only made me more optimistic about the future of Computer Science and women’s role in it as a whole.
To be sure, when I began FBU I was not so optimistic. I carried two years of high school experience under my belt being the only girl in an AP Computer Science class of twenty dudes, and I entered college with no intention of prolonging the sausage fest.
To top it off the introductory CS courses I took at Stanford, although very well-staffed and much more promising in gender ratio, felt much too academic and not nearly enough applicable for my taste. I wanted the comfort of other women in my major, I wanted to code something big, and I had no idea how to compromise the two.
Luckily, FBU swept the past summer like Sheryl Sandberg did my heart and salvaged me from academic/existential crisis. So what’s so great about Facebook? Why the possessed look in my eyes?
Allow me to present the definitive list of FBU game-changers:
1) The people
Cliché I know, but the best thing about Facebook really is its people. My mentor Jason is an engineer with exceptional design sense and ample brain folds to spare, yet for all his accomplishments he treated us interns like equals. Even if not all people at Facebook are so cool, those who do volunteer to be intern mentors for FBU tend to be grade-A awesome sauce.
And for those who are only interested in *cough* the possibilities *cough* Facebook is quite the impressive gene pool. My first day I thought Zuck was commissioning Urban Outfitters to dress employees. Maybe Stanford’s sweatpants couture has lowered my standards for dress, but along with fashion sense Facebook’s employees are pre-selected for intelligence and ability to work on a team. Apparently something magical happens to programmers as they transcend from college to the industry, a second puberty so to speak, and for once in your Computer Science career ladies the gender ratio is ever in your favor. So own it.
2) Sheryl Sandberg
If there are two women in this world who I had to be conjoined twins with for the rest of my life, they are Shakira and Sheryl Sandberg. Why? Because Sheryl is awesome. Rumor is she smells like roses. I ran into her in the bathroom once. Rumor is true.
In all seriousness though, one of the proudest reasons I have for working at Facebook is Sheryl. She inspires women to lean into the tech industry, and as a woman in the tech industry inspiration is what we need.
Cold feet are inevitable if you’re a woman in CS. And there’s no shame in that. Every woman in tech has at some point in her career gotten cold feet because the industry is scary and for a number of reasons: we are not surrounded by a majority of other people like us; the media has confined our career to geeky Sheldon Cooper-types; blatant sexism in the workplace; and the list goes on andon. It’s scary, but Sheryl’s message to recognize and stand against society’s discrepancies in expected career path, income, and general success of men and women is strong at Facebook.
Sandberg has done an amazing job of personally taking care of female interns at Facebook, giving each woman a free signed copy of Lean In, hosting Lean In Foundation meetings and in-person Q&As, even inviting all female interns to her own backyard for some barbecue and community. She’s a feminist not just in print but also in action, and her activism has given Facebook’s reputation a human touch. So if you too want to smell the roses, apply to FBU.
3) The work
Facebook gave me a wonderful opportunity I was craving in school: real-world experience. For academic assignments I was working completely on my own save for bits and pieces of help from friends or TAs at office hours, but at Facebook, projects are completely interdependent — and as such, people must learn to work on a team.
A fear many women have of Computer Science is that it’s a lonely road, one typically led by the acne-ridden, Cheeto-munching World of Warcrafter in a dark basement that reeks of stale tears and celibacy. The reality is that companies, Facebook especially, rely on collaboration to create seamless, versatile products, and my intern group really benefitted from this aspect. I was constantly communicating with my teammates whether it be in delegating work, critiquing others’ code, or mapping out design details, and I learned invaluable lessons about managing relationships that I never could in the classroom.
At the end of the summer, we had built a tangible, functioning product, an iPhone app leveraging nifty, then-beta iOS 7 features. And what a feeling it is to see the very code you wrote come alive on your own iPhone screen. At FBU, you too can build an app or project that you can call your own by virtue of the code. And although FBU is just one way to kickstart your production, it’ll provide you the excellent guidance, work environment, and other real-world resources academia usually cannot.
4) The perks
Halfway through my internship I caught myself whining, “Oh my god, the café is serving duck confit again?” And then I slapped myself. Because Facebook food is the BEST. THING. IN EXISTENCE. And to not appreciate it is deeper sacrilege than burning a signed copy of Lean In. Your inculcation into the world of palatable pleasure at Facebook shall proceed in three stages:
- “Oh my god, they have an espresso machine?! And it’s free?”
- “Oh my god, gourmet lamb tacos? Gourmet duck? Gourmet corn flakes? And it’s free?”
- “Oh my god, it’s all free?”
Facebook caffeinates its employees with cappuccinos to make a grown Italian man cry and fills their stomachs with copious delicious food that manifests itself in the “Facebook 15.” And poor me, barely escaping the claws of the Freshman 15, had no chance.
Other food may hold no meaning after tasting Facebook’s, but if that were not enough coordinators plan weekly events to expose interns to all the fun the Bay Area has to offer, including but not limited to a day trip in Yosemite, a scavenger hunt across San Francisco, and an intern carnival at Facebook’s Disneyland-meet-urbania campus, complete with bounce house, zipline, and free food trucks. Just savor the feel of the words on your lips: “free food trucks.”
Did I mention luxurious corporate housing? No? Well, there’s that too.
Can there be any question now that you should apply? If you’re a woman in CS, FBU will give you the optimism it gave me to carry through the unique challenges you’ll face in an 88% male field. Heck, if you’re a goat this internship will make your life better. Because it’s awesome.
To be sure, FBU is just one way to get comfortable with your womanhood in the industry, to get real-world experience, and to build a functional product with your creative stamp on it. Any internship you take or project you begin can only increase your confidence in your ability to code. Just seize these opportunities to grow and take comfort in the presence of programs like FBU that want to foster your growth.
We believe that anyone, anywhere can make a positive impact by developing products to bring the world closer together. Facebook University (FBU) is a paid eight-week training program designed to provide mobile development experience to students who are historically under-represented in computer science.
The eight-weeks is broken down by three-weeks of mobile development training in either iOS or Android, followed by five-weeks of hands-on project experience in a small team setting. Throughout the duration of the program you’ll be paired with an engineering mentor who will help guide you along the way.
Facebook is proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer. We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or other applicable legally protected characteristics.
If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or you may call us at 1+650-308-7837.