Fb’s UX Analysis Internship Demystified | by Fb Analysis | Fb Analysis | Feb, 2021
The decision for a career path is always difficult – let alone when you are in the middle of your master’s or doctoral thesis. Even if you are interested in non-academic research, it is difficult to know what to expect without actual industry experience.
Fortunately, many companies now offer internships for students who want to explore the discipline of User Experience Research (UXR) before graduation. On Facebook, this means using your academic research skills to improve products and services that are used by billions of people around the world.
To demystify the internship and its application process, we spoke to four interns who are now full-time on Facebook. Although they come from different academic backgrounds and schools, they shared some common concerns and tips.
Get to know the internship
How did these former interns find out about Facebook’s program? Most began by doing a web search on UX research in general or UX internships in particular. Qi, then a PhD student in social psychology, began researching UX careers and found that Facebook had some open positions. But she didn’t learn about the internship until she met with a friendly Facebook recruiter at SPSP, a large social psychology conference.
Another common way to discover the program was to look at the career paths of former students. A few interns knew about other students who had either completed the internship or accepted a full-time position in UX. Alexa, another PhD social psychologist, learned more about UX from an alum on Facebook. She also learned about the corporate culture by speaking to a friend in a different role at the company.
Interpersonal connections like these may seem elusive, but if you want to learn more about the internship or UX as a profession, then you should research who may have information. You may also be able to share your connections on LinkedIn with a UX expert. Qi says she often receives emails from curious PhD students at her alma mater – another great way to learn more.
I’m not sure I want UX. Is the internship right for me?
None of our four former interns were determined to do UX research when they joined the program. Catherine, a PhD in media psychologist, was generally curious about the daily lives of UX researchers on Facebook. Like many students, Catherine was “still on the fence between science and industry. I wanted to learn a little more about both worlds before I applied. In retrospect, I’m glad I did; It helped me differentiate between the two more clearly. ”
The internship can also show you what a day – or 12 weeks – looks like in the life of a UX researcher. Many interns have made their way from undergrad to graduate school without the opportunity to experience non-academic research in action. Melanie, who holds a PhD in Sociology, said: “Working in industry still felt pretty mysterious to me, and it seemed like a big change. An internship seemed like the ideal way to dip my toes in and gain experience without having to commit to a full-time job in an area I didn’t know much about (and it also had the hugely valuable side effect of me to improve my prospects of a full-time job as someone with no industry experience up to that point). “
Does Facebook need me? And do I need Facebook?
Some students find it difficult to see how a particular area of research would affect Facebook, often without realizing that many of their research skills can be applied to a wide variety of research questions. Alexa, who completed the internship with an emphasis on quantitative methods in psychology, was surprised to learn that her understanding of human behavior enabled her to surpass methods such as in-depth interviews. While industrial research may look very different, your academic research skills are often directly applicable – or serve as a framework as you build new skills.
For Melanie, Facebook was a company that hired people with a social science background like hers, which signals that their skills and perspective would go well together. And for Catherine, who studied social media, discovering Facebook as a product seemed like a logical next step in her career.
How does the timing work?
Timing is a key factor to consider when applying for the internship. Some of our interns did some research on the internship in the last few years of their studies, but still had time to apply and do the internship before returning for a final semester (which is required for the internship). They then received return offers shortly before completing their studies. Others, who had found out about the internship earlier, had more breathing space. While it is important that you feel confident about your core research skills before applying, it may also be wise not to wait too long just in case your first application is unsuccessful.
Most UXR interns complete the 12-week internship in the summer months. Applications will open in autumn of the previous year. Hence, it is important to plan ahead.
Learn more about UXR
Many internship applicants found it helpful not only to find out the timing, but also to learn more about UX research before applying. This can give you a head start when you think about how your academic research skills could impact the fast-paced world of Facebook.
Our former interns learned more about UX in a number of ways. Students who live in larger areas (e.g. New York) went to meetups. Now that most in-person events have moved to virtual spaces, online meetings are a great way to get a feel for how people think and talk about UX research. In addition, Melanie spent a lot of time familiarizing herself with UX as a discipline used to internalize UX concepts and terminology.
Some aspiring interns also read business books that helped clarify the product development process (one that David, a PhD Social Psychologist, helped: Building Better Products: A Modern Approach to Building Successful User-Centered Products). You have also seen online conversations from UX researchers or (of course!) Read our Facebook UXR posts on Medium.
How do I prepare for an interview cycle?
Interviews can be daunting, especially when there’s a lot at stake. Rest assured you will have guidance. When you reach the interview stage, a recruiter will guide you through the process.
Catherine commented, “The prep materials prepared by Facebook are fantastic. I was very impressed with the care that the team put into preparing the materials so that the interview was not a surprise. My advice would be to go through these materials carefully and speak to your recruiter if you have any questions. If you’re like me you might be surprised how open the company is to what the interview structure will be and what to expect. At first I was afraid that there would be ‘surprise’ or ‘trick’ questions outside of the preparatory materials, but that was not the case. ”
Since the interview process is about finding out if you are a good fit as an intern, it is a good idea to view this as an opportunity to just be yourself rather than appearing in a certain way or trying to outsmart the process .
However, getting into a UX research mentality can help you prepare for the interview. As you learn more about UX research, the types of questions UX researchers ask (and answer), and the product development cycle, you will develop a clearer feel for the types of questions you may be asked.
A final presentation takes place as part of the interview process. One tip from our interns was not to just focus on the methodology – which is of course important for details – and really rethink the potential impact of the results and highlight how a product team can use their findings. Alexa advised, “Make sure you don’t give an academic lecture. Make it accessible. “
What would I actually do in the internship?
Interns are matched with an experienced UX researcher and are part of a product team like a full-time researcher. Interns have the opportunity to work on a Facebook product (Instagram, Facebook app, Messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook marketplace) or on other cross-sectional research areas (e.g. well-being, data protection, citizenship integrity and more!). We try to put the interns together according to their wishes, depending on availability. Facebook offers general UX internal roles as well as more specific roles (e.g. data protection) for which a separate application is required.
During the period of 12 weeks, interns work on 1–3 projects. Although internship managers help plan and design the research projects carefully, there is plenty of room for interns to shape which projects they take on in the later weeks of the internship. Interns use existing research skills and have the opportunity to develop new ones. There’s a mid-way check-in that allows interns to get formal feedback on their early progress and a final review.
Lessons learned from the internship
Our interns learned a lot during the 12-week internship, including doing research on designing digital products and services. Perhaps more importantly, they felt better equipped to decide whether to embark on a non-academic path of research. There’s nothing like hands-on experience to find out if you’re really enjoying something.
Interns also benefit from learning new skills, both when designing and performing research (e.g., writing SQL code or performing a qualitative diary study) and communicating results (e.g., providing actionable product recommendations) . In addition to working with senior UX researchers, interns also learn from and work with a variety of people in various other roles, such as: B. Data scientists, product managers, engineers and designers. Finally, UX Research Intern Managers provide additional guidance and support.
Learn more about the UXR internship on Facebook.