Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday – Days 14-18
Posted on 17th January 2014
Tuesday felt much more useful. I arrived on the first shuttle in and had a smoothie and some fruit, checked out the campus a little more and then headed to my next onboarding session. For many of us engineers, we come in very practically minded, so as much as I appreciated the ‘Welcome’ shtick, actually getting my hands dirty and setting up a development environment was much more satisfying. It took a good few hours to actually get set up, and a few more to learn our way around what we needed to know to get started.
For lunch I met up with Zach and Alexey from Penn, Alexey whom I had never met. However, it was a real joy to have that sense of familiarity and to talk about professors, classes and people we all knew. Zach is a very down to earth kind of guy and it was good to hear his perspective on working at Facebook. Alexey has experience in startups and consulting and so it was good to hear from him too, as I’ll have to decide in the near future what step I wish to take next following graduation.
The afternoon I finally got to build something! Though it was a very simple web application, it was good to be back in the game. Both I and another good third of the class continued for a good while at home indicated by the surprise on our mentors’ faces the next day. They asked how far along we were and many of us raised our hands to show we’d already completed the whole thing!
We then had about an hour’s break, to watch a series of videos on various technologies, and I used this as a chance to meet my manager. Scott was so friendly and also radiated the sense that he really knew what he was doing. We had a brief chat, and then it was back to the videos for me. After one more session, the day was over.
I managed to get home by about ten past eight and then fell asleep almost immediately. All this new information to absorb and people I was meeting seemed to be draining me pretty quickly.
The next morning I was out on the first shuttle again, had what was becoming my usual breakfast and then went straight to the ‘Rainbow Room’. The Rainbow Room is Facebook’s official music room, complete with a nice piano, a few guitars/basses and an electronic drum set. I was so glad to have that space as it really helped me to relax and I knew it would continue do so throughout my internship.
Our next few hours were again spent in onboarding sessions, thankfully technical, and the material was of a good standard. Some of the engineers were also good communicators as well as being excellent technically. We received two assignments, one easier and one harder. I also came across my first frustrating bug that I only resolved a half week later when I was in a different mindset and had a little more experience.
After lunch we continued on with the sessions, one technical and one on ethics, finishing off just after five. At that point I decided to go back to my desk and hack away on my assignments till six thirty. At the desk next to me was a guy named Pieter with a very dry sense of humor and expansive technical knowledge. Both of which I enjoyed. He was also very helpful whenever I needed something and would take time out of what he was doing to help me navigate my way around all the new things I was required to learn. Dinner was a ‘dinner meeting’ with a fellow intern, to work on an assignment related to advertising and we designed a strategy to help out my mum’s tourism business. As per usual I stayed to catch the middle of the three night shuttles, and then spent the next two hours at home doing my washing and hanging up my clothes properly.
Thursday was my first full day at my desk! Over the course of the day I tried tackling two separate tasks, one of which was complete by the end of the day and the other on which I made good progress. At lunch I discovered the Facebook Acapella Group and joined them for a rehearsal. Most people there could sing pretty well already and it was nice to inject a little more music into my day. The rest of the afternoon I hacked away, slowly getting a feel for how everything worked. By the end of the day I was pretty pleased with my progress, and it wouldn’t be till the weekend that I’d discover it was mostly for naught.
Friday was our final official day of onboarding and that meant that after my morning meeting, it was all talks for the rest of the day. One that was particularly fascinating and inspiring was from the infrastructure team talking about how they had ‘open-sourced’ (made freely available) the design of their servers and data centers. This to me was an indicator of good work being done by good people and used in good ways. Late in the day, our entire intern group walked down to Café “Living the Dream” which was now thoroughly guarded with chairs laid out and bedecked with cameras and screens. To the side stood the man himself, Mark “Zuck” Zuckerberg. For the next hour he gave a Q&A session with the company, carefully listening to peoples’ questions and providing what seemed like incredibly well thought out answers. After the talk I quickly hurried back before sunset, set the lights in the apartment and promptly fell asleep.
My weekend was relatively relaxed, lots of chilling around the apartment. I cleaned up the apartment a little, read the last of Ice Song of Ice and Fire for the second time and generally recovered from the previous week. Saturday night I went out with a bunch of the interns, spent a little time in the pool and enjoyed my locale. Sunday morning I was up at nine AM and decided that as I had nothing planned until the afternoon, I would work for a little on the past week’s unsolved problems. Unsurprisingly problems that had previously seemed intractable to me now came easily. To my distress however, I discovered while searching though some files, that some other individual had already completed one of the tasks I’d been so hard at work on the previous week and that my efforts were in vain. I closed off my laptop and decided I wouldn’t do more till Monday. Better to separate life and work a little more anyhow.
At 1PM I met up with a bunch of other bay area interns (non Facebook) at the CalTrain station. To my delight there was another Australian there, a great guy called Varun. We bonded over the fact that we were the only ones we knew of around. As a group we went to get sushi for lunch but there were a few too many of us for the place to support so we ended up splitting into two groups and meeting again afterwards. After our bills were paid we joined again at a local coffee shop and chilled for a good bit of the afternoon before all going our separate ways. When I got home I took a nap and then took my first supermarket trip since leaving home. Dinner was a simple sandwich, with the TV on some cheesy romance movie in the background and then an early night. I was planning on starting something new early the next day.
At 6:00AM my alarm went off, and I sprung out of bed trying to get into my clothes as quickly as possible. I bounded down the stairs and walked over to the housing complex’s gym. I was anticipating disaster, and my lack of sit-up ability confirmed my worst fitness fears, this was going to be a heck of task. I managed a good fifty minutes before falling over myself and heading back to shower and was pleased I’d at least taken a first step.
Monday was a straight day of work. I struggled a little in the morning learning how to deal with Unicode and UTF-8 code points (international character encodings) and felt I’d wasted a good few hours when 12PM arrived and I had to head off to rehearsal. A few more people were at acapella today and the music was much easier to sight read, making it a bit more of a jam session. I tried to eat a quick lunch and managed to get back to my office for another 45min before meetings till four thirty. I managed to pump out a good bit of work the rest of the day and rewarded myself with a slightly early finish for dinner, skipping some of the queue.
I played piano for a bit before my shuttle arrived but when I arrived home my energy was drained and after a call home, I showered and went right to sleep.