Exploring the bay and interning at Facebook

Thoughts on the Summer of ‘14

Part I. Exploring The Bay

San Francisco — For many of my weekends, I drove from Redwood City up to San Francisco. The population in SF is very diverse compared to that of both LA and Seattle and there are endless amounts of things to do. I did different things every weekend: checking out all of the parks, bar hopping, driving across the golden gate, visiting my friends and cousin, BBQ with my manager, seeing ball games, going to tech conferences, etc.

Driving in the city is a mess, I got rear ended within 5 minutes of my first visit! Dodging bikers and incoming trolleys is the norm there. However, I love the quaint feel of SF and plan on moving there after graduating.

Left—Muir Woods trip, Right—Pride Parade in SF
Left—With friends on FB’s campus, Right—Ghirardelli Square on the 4th
Left—Cruising through SF with friends on the 4th, Right—UCI lunch @ Facebook
Left—Car trouble in SF, Right—Hillary Clinton speaking at FB

Yosemite — Some friends and I took a weekend to climb to the very top of the notorious Half Dome at Yosemite. The freakiest part was that a huge forest fire had engulfed the entire dome and all of the hikers had to get helicoptered out the very next weekend after we went! We had to wake up at 3AM to go on the hike and finish before dark.

The drive from our campsite to the dome in the dead of night was one of the most beautiful drives that I’ve ever been on. The lack of light pollution caused the entire galaxy to be visible and it was incredible. I nearly crashed my car while looking up driving.

Tahoe — We also visited Tahoe over a weekend, think of it as a chunk of Washington State transplanted into California, but prettier! We were in my convertible blasting Daft Punk while cruising around the lake and mountains. It was absolutely gorgeous. We drove around the lake aimlessly and swam to an island in the very middle.

Check out this video of me waterskiing!

Part II. The internship

Internships at Facebook are amazing. I’m not just talking about the pay, perks, or learning opportunity from working in an environment with so many capable people. My entire Summer felt very well choreographed, I just had to worry about building stuff and having fun!

From the start, Facebook took care of our housing, food, transportation, and even social life. Along with the college-esque barrage of social events which occurred during the workweek, we had intern events on the weekends which were a lot of fun, but more importantly, these events helped us make our initial friendships that would last for an entire Summer.

I didn’t do very well during my first few weeks. Although I was “shipping code” at a quick pace, my contributions were sloppy. I was sacrificing code quality for speed, which is not a fair trade in software engineering. My manager and coworkers had to spend a lot their time reviewing and re-reviewing my work and this resulted in the progress of their own work slowing down.

— FB engineering motto

After my midterm review, I felt bad and reached out to both my manager and my manager’s manager. They both gave actionable feedback. Shipping code isn’t a nearsighted task of getting functionality out the door. Rather it’s an intricate dance where one must think empathetically of the end customers and also the other engineers in the codebase who will be affected by one’s change.

This can mean different things for different contexts, such as making sure a code request has 90%+ unit test coverage and making sure the change passes integration, load, and smoke tests. It also means rigorously AB testing and evaluating metrics alongside manually prodding the product’s interface to ensure that the change is sensible and airtight of bugs.

Over my final few weeks at the company, I took action and made it a point to change. I was a lot more careful with my work and it helped a lot to think of the codebase as a living organism, constantly being updated, poked with, and modified by other people.

The computer is a machine, but a codebase is an organism.

Kevin Simler, Quora article

I did much better during my final few weeks after acting on the feedback. During the final week, my manager happily (and dramatically) informed me that I’ve received a full time offer!

The extracurricular experience at Facebook was great, there were a ton of social events happening all day. Hillary Clinton, Buzz Aldrin, MC Hammer, Joe Montana, and many more people came to visit.

Thanks to everyone at Facebook who worked with me and everyone who hung out over the weekends, you all know who you are! Shoutout to Natalie, my manager, Benji, and everyone else on the XDC team for the awesome ride.