'A COLLEGE CAMPUS ON STEROIDS!' What it's really like to be a Facebook intern

Free food, regular cocktail parties, and dodgeball tournaments — these are just a few of the perks Facebook interns get to enjoy.

But it’s not all about the cool bonuses: Facebook treats its interns like full-time employees, which means it also expects you to work like a full-time employee.

Interns work on real projects that are on Facebook’s roadmap — not busy work designated for interns.

Hyla Wallis, Facebook’s university operations lead, said the company views internships as an evaluation program of sorts.

“[It’s] an opportunity for us to get to know our interns and for our interns to get to know us,” she told Business Insider.

Three former Facebook interns told Business Insider what it’s really like to temporarily join the biggest social network in the world — an internship that career site Glassdoor says is its highest rated this year.

It’s also one of the highest-paying gigs a college student can land. Facebook interns get paid about $US5,600 per month on average. That’s $US25,000+ more than the average US citizen.

A “college campus on steroids”

Facebook gives interns a lot of responsibility and independence. Elizabeth Gregory is a former product design intern who worked for Facebook last summer.

She says working at Facebook is like joining a “coalition of startups.” You hardly notice you’re one of thousands of employees.

“Each team is working hard on a particular project, and it doesn’t really feel that big,” she said.

Patricia McKenzie, a recently-hired software engineer who interned at Facebook last summer, agrees. She used to book conference rooms and share them with five other interns to collaborate even when they’d been given different assignments.

“It’s a really open work environment,” she said.

“I worked harder than I ever had before,” another former intern said of his time at Facebook.

Facebook campus main streetBusiness Insider/Julie BortIn some ways, Facebook’s Menlo Park campus feels like Disney World, with lots of shops and people everywhere.

While Facebook might not feel large from a team perspective, its Menlo Park campus is expansive. It’s decked out with bike lanes, cafeterias, coffee shops, ice cream parlors and barbers.

“It totally felt like a college campus on steroids,” she said. “But it was so much more fun and well kept.”

“They had a bartender come in and make cocktails”

As much as Facebook prioritises work, it encourages fun, too.

McKenzie, who interned in Facebook’s Seattle office, said that she’s still friends with a lot of the people she worked with last summer. There’s a Facebook group for those who work in Facebook’s Seattle office called “Seattle Social,” where employees post open invitations for events.

Facebook organizes its own community-building activities, too. One former intern referenced an outing to a baseball game, and McKenzie described her experience playing dodgeball in a company tournament.

“I was able to be on a dodgeball team with my manager, and I don’t think a lot of other people can say that,” McKenzie said.

Facebook also offers free meals for interns and employees daily, possibly the internships greatest perk. The company brings in bartenders for special happy hour celebrations on Thursdays.

“Every Thursday they had cocktail time,” one intern said.

“Mark Zuckerberg had a desk that looked exactly like mine.”

Facebook’s billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t hide away in a luxurious office during the work day. He sits with other Facebook employees and kindly greets workers — interns included.

“Mark Zuckerberg has a desk that looked exactly like mine,” Gregory said. “Same computer, same everything, so that was really nice…He was a really nice guy, and he always said hi to me walking around even if he didn’t know exactly who I was.”

As an intern, Gregory said she got to sit in on a meeting with Zuckerberg.

“I was just observing, but it was cool to see what Zuck was like,” she said. “It was very intense because he just spews wisdom at you.”

In addition to the weekly Q&A meetings on Friday, where Zuckerberg and other executives hold town halls to address employee questions, female interns got to attend a special meeting with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

“All the female interns got to meet Sheryl and talk to her,” McKenzie said. “She gave this presentation with a few other female managers and engineers about not just being a woman in tech, but it any field that’s underrepresented.”

What Facebook looks for in its interns

Facebook employeesFacebookFacebook employees

Internships at companies like Facebook are competitive and selective, but Wallis says the company generally looks for candidates that can “tackle really hard problems.” If you’re applying for a software engineering internship, experience participating in hackathons is a bonus.

“If they can display things that they have been working on over time, like apps, those are the things that we’d want to see.”

And, previous experience isn’t always the most important thing.

“[We] definitely look for the skills that they have maybe moreso than some of the experiences they have,” she said.

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