Facebook – Week 3

Posted on 16th March 2014

Monday was a public holiday to celebrate Mr Luther King Jr and the civil rights movement, however today I would still be going in to work. Facebook was off for the day, but I had arranged to spend the day hacking away at my project in order to facilitate taking a Friday off to get to UPenn to see friends, the Glee Club Spring Show and to check out the PennApps hackathon. I did however treat myself to a ‘sleep in’ waking up at 8AM before my usual gym routine. I worked pretty hard in return for my sleep and ended up tiring myself out substantially, forgetting that I had arranged with Sandy (another intern) to cycle to work at 11AM.

Sandy and I were to meet approximately forty minutes by bike from me in Mountain View and ten minutes from him in Menlo Park and together to ride the remaining twenty mintues to Facebook campus. I grabbed my gear and bike, turned on the turn-by-turn navigation on my phone and set out to take the longer bike trail to our meeting point. Having not cycled in a number of years, and already exhausted my pool of energy this turned out to be highly ill advised. A short way into the trip I was ready to keel over and searched madly for a drinking fountain in the vicinity of my route. After around forty minutes I came across one, dismounted and checked the GPS to see how close I was. It was then I realized that I was only half way there. I let Sandy know that I might not make it to the meeting point on time and cycled onwards.

The path itself was quite easy going and full of sights to see. It wound around the bay before eventually crossing the highway on a pedestrian overpass. At around the one hour mark the path ended and I had to cycle on the main road, soon encountering Highway 101. This was terrifying as there were multiple entryways and exits from the highway with cars coming on and off at full speed. Thankfully I made it through despite a few errors on my part that were highly ill-advised.

I arrived at Facebook a good hour and a half after setting out, and when I got off my bike every muscle was burning.  I felt I would fall apart. I collapsed onto a couch with Sandy, who had gone ahead to meet me there, grabbed a few snacks from a microkitchen and sat down to work for a few hours.

My lunch break today consisted of a bowl of cereal consumed while giving a brief speech over skype as to why I was the ideal candidate for Director of Education for my volunteer work with Hineni Youth and Welfare back home. After a vote on that left my candidacy behind, I then worked till around six pm when I was to cycle to the CalTrain. However just as I was about to leave, I was called by Hineni to let me know it was time to speak as a candidate for a general board position and so I delayed my departure. After the fastest speech I’ve probably ever given I rushed off into the dark streets. This was my first time ever riding at night, and as the monster of the highway approached I trembled a little. Eventually I ended up dismounting and walking over the crossings with as many lights on as I could muster, praying I’d make it over.

This delayed me a little, and getting lost moreso, and thus I reached the CalTrain just as it pulled into the station. I awkwardly hopped on with my bike, into a carriage with no room, so figuring that I was only a ten minute ride away, I stood with my bike in the entryway. As my luck would have it, the rails on this particular route had failed just as our train was due to reach my station and so we pulled up short and waited. And waited, and waited. About thirty minutes later the driver announced that we would in fact be skipping my station and pulling up to the next one, a good thirty minute bike ride away. By the time we arrived I had ‘had it’ and found a cab driver who would take both me and my bike to where I was meant to be meeting Linda, one of the other Facebook interns, for dinner.

I met Linda about forty minutes after we had arranged, with a dead phone, my whole bike and a very very tired me. Thankfully, though she’d wanted to just quickly grab something, she took the time to sit with me as I recovered.  It ended up being quite a pleasant evening once I had made it home but I was most glad when I was able to lie down and sleep.

The rest of the week passed in something of a blur.  Tuesday was a straight day of my normal routine but thanks to the previous day I was already a little tired. However things seemed to be moving well with my project and this was a great feeling. The internal tools were becoming more familiar and I need to ask for help a little less frequently.

Wednesday we called an extra rehearsal for acapella to make up for the lost Monday but fewer people showed up, and there were more new people than old, so we decided to try a new piece and see how we liked it. Though the music was not my usual style, I was really enjoying seeing a few faces outside of those of my team (not that they aren’t fantastic, just good to have some variety). I was learning a few more names and hearing a few more different stories. Though he wasn’t there that day, the other baritone, Brian, a visiting professor, was particularly friendly and also seemed to have a good number of years of musical experience under his belt. This ensured that learning our part was always little easier.

I always felt a little guilty taking an extended break with acapella and lunch together eating up an hour and a half, but I found that I was able to work a little later without mentally exhausting myself if I had a bit of variety in the day. This was particularly true for Thursday.

Thursday I broke up my usual routine and went to gym a little later, catching the second shuttle of the morning. It was also the first day that most of my team had made it in before me! I was intent on putting in some good work to make up for the later start, and though I did many things, they weren’t as impactful as I would’ve liked, due to having to go over and fix a number of things I had done that were less than optimal previously, rather than breaking new ground.

Overall my productivity seemed to go in waves. Though I was always working, some days it just seemed that I did a great job of it and others I would sink into a bit of a quagmire. The bad days weren’t fantastic but I was left with a really good feeling after the productive ones.

Lunch on Thursdays was always another acapella rehearsal, and potentially due to some internal advertising, our numbers were much bigger than they had been previously. More old faces and more new faces. Both good things.

In the afternoon Brian Jew, one of the members posted on the groups Facebook page that there was an intro to improv class in the evening (for a series that would cost a bit over a hundred dollars) and that we were welcome to join. I was hesitant at first, due to already having taken a longer lunch and having arrived later, but I resolved to stay in the office till the last shuttle to make up for it.

The class was quite a lot of fun, nothing in terms of theatre that I hadn’t done before, but it was a good chance to relax a little, improve my skills and again, meet more people.

A recurring theme in my life has been constant movement. Between schools, universities and even countries. One thing I’ve found repeatedly to be of value is finding low friction environments in which to meet people, otherwise the travel can get lonely very quickly. At Penn this had been the OCP and Glee Club, in NYC Marie’s took the part, however only now was I discovering where at Facebook these environments existed.

After some umming and ahhing, I decided to sign up for the series, figuring that if I didn’t spend my salary on things that would make me happy and that I’d enjoy, there wasn’t much point in earning it in the first place. I tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Bear, one of the more talented (and very friendly) members of the acapella group to sign up too, but other commitments made it an unsuitable option for her. Thus, it was another chance to start afresh with all new people!

Friday I worked really hard and slowly edged my way to progress, though my project was getting a little behind due to focus on a number of side tasks, but I endeavored to finish all the things I had started. The late afternoon was a little crazy with company happy hour being celebrated in ‘style’ by the interns, but it brought a welcome close to the week.

Saturday was quite a lot of fun this week as I decided to walk until I dropped. This allowed me to make it all the way to Stanford University on foot (about two hours away) and check out the grounds, meet a few students and enjoy the atmosphere. I even walked by 267 College Avenue, my home from when I lived in Palo Alto as a child. I still had a few memories of that time, though to my six year old self, everything seemed a lot bigger.

Sunday I made a trip out to the Stanford mall. a medium sized shopping center, and requisitioned for myself a new pair of runners and shorts for use at the gym, two new t-shirts and assorted undies and socks. This was also much needed as on Friday I had accidentally left my washing at work (yup, we get laundry service!). Arriving home I worked for a while and prepared some course materials for a subject I would hopefully be tutoring back in Australia. At around five PM I called a friend at home (with a cheap calling card) and ended up speaking for about three hours (no longer so cheap) before Linda asked for an escort to the nearest ATM for her bank, located a mile away.

After returning I was done so I turned in for the night, and before I knew it, it was back to work for another week.

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