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—Hilary 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!

After Tahoe, we ended up stopping at Reno, Nevada for the night. I went full retard and bet $100 on a roulette color (49/51 chances of doubling or losing all your money) … and won!

Redwood Shores — The younger sibling of Redwood City and my home over the Summer. This “city” does not have a downtown and is uniquely sandwiched between San Francisco and Facebook’s HQ in Menlo Park. I was put up in a pre-furnished apartment. The apartment was nice but the place was a bit too far from civilization, I had to get on highway 101 just to find a Safeway!

My apartment over the Summer, the photo on the right shows my equipment

Palo Alto — Tech companies and expensive rent everywhere, and Stanford.

San Jose — From my limited experience, this city seems like a less cultural/cool version of San Francisco with slightly cheaper rent. The homeless problem in this city seems just as bad as it is in SF.

Foster City — Amazing restaurants!

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 occured 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. Is finishing an intern project early really worth slowing down the progress of other engineers and projects on the team?

— FB engineering motto

After my midterm review, I felt bad and reached out to both my manager and my manager’s manager. They recommended me to think more methodically before pushing code.

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 tested all code execution paths before pushing anything. 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 and ended up pushing improvements and updates to many different projects. In my final week, my manager took me into a room to tell me that I’ve received a full time offer, WOOT!

The extracurricular experience at Facebook was great, there were a ton of social events happening all day. Hilary Clinton, Buzz Aldrin, MC Hammer, Joe Montana, and many more people came to visit. The company hierarchy is pretty flat and everyone I met was very humble. I ran into “Boz”, Facebook’s VP of Ads (and Mark’s TA at Harvard?) randomly on a hike and he told me about stories of the company’s early days.

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! Aside from learning many technical things, I also formed some awesome friendships over this Summer and I’d consider it all a total win!

Goodbye Facebook & The Bay … maybe

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Lucas Ou-Yang’s story.