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Facebook has 41 job openings on its data and analytics team. That’s a large chunk of its 240-some tech positions to fill.If you toss your resume into the bucket and get called for an interview, know this: The skill your potential future boss really wants is “understanding people,” explained Ken Rudin, head of analytics at Facebook.
So he said last night at “Big Data Date Night,” a one-evening event held in Mountain View, Calif.
“We’re looking for people who are interested in understanding human nature and social behaviour and who find it really appealing to be able to work with the largest data set ever amassed of a slice of human life on a daily basis,” he said. “So the people who make good analysts are the ones who are really passionate about understanding people.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, you may recall, double-majored in both psychology and computer science before he dropped out of Harvard.
That’s not to say that the tech part is unimportant. Facebook stores 100+ petabytes of data, he says. (That’s equivalent to the entire written works of mankind, in every language from all of recorded history, times two.) It takes technical chops to manage that.
But it’s less about using technology than about having a “data-driven” mindset, he said.
At Facebook, that mindset is so important that every new employee goes through a two-week immersive program called “Data Camp.”
In week one, new recruits are introduced to the tech tools and walked through the “life of a user click” which is what happens as people share their status or upload photos.
The second week covers creative problem solving. Employees are given actual tasks relating to “whatever is going on with the business.” Then “they have to present the results,” he said.
Data camp is difficult even for the highly experienced. In a famous incident reported in BusinessWeek, Jocelyn Goldfein came to Facebook from VMware and she still had to attend camp. At the end she turned on her project. Much to her horror, it broke the company’s email system, taking it down for most of the day. (She’s had a stellar career since.)
Here’s another tip to help you land a job on Facebook’s tech team: one of Rudin’s favourite books is “How to Measure Anything” by Douglas Hubbard.
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