From intern to FTE: 4 researchers share their journeys with the Fb Core Knowledge Science crew

Facebook’s Core Data Science (CDS) team pushes the limits of what is possible by exploring and solving new challenges in science and technology. The CDS internship program is designed to give researchers the opportunity to explore career paths in various research fields such as computer science, statistics, optimization, economics and social sciences.

CDS interns immerse themselves in Facebook culture and see the direct impact their research has on product development, user experience, and the research community at large. When making the transition to full-time employees, researchers use passion and curiosity to drive their projects forward. Here four researchers share their experiences with the program and what inspired them to switch to their full-time position.

Remain curious while adopting an inquiring mindset

Taylor Brown is a computational social scientist on the CDS team. She received her PhD in Sociology from Duke University, where she specialized in culture and computational methods and networks. She also holds an MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention from the University of Oxford. Taylor develops methods to improve the measurement and mitigation of social inequalities and harmful content on Facebook and Instagram while protecting user privacy.

“As part of my CDS internship on Facebook, I was able to participate in a groundbreaking collaboration with academic researchers to examine the role of social media in the 2020 US presidential election,” said Taylor. “All studies in this collaboration are pre-registered, and now I am contributing to their publication as a full-time team member. This work will undoubtedly influence many areas of the social sciences in the years to come. “

Taylor’s curiosity fueled her research career and after two attempts to apply for a CDS internship led her to a full-time position at Facebook. “When I first applied for an internship on Facebook, I didn’t survive the interview,” she says. “The experience taught me a lot about the culture of Facebook. I felt supported throughout and was encouraged to reapply for the next job posting. I have now met half a dozen CDS team members who also had to apply twice in order to be accepted into the internship program. After having this experience, I always tell people to try again if they don’t get through the interview process the first time. “

Within CDS, team members have the autonomy to focus on projects that they are passionate about. It was easier for Taylor to switch to a full-time position after two internships. “If possible, I recommend doing two internships,” she offers. “I used my first internship to understand the culture, research tools and processes of Facebook. With this I am successful in my second internship, during which I was able to get into project work with the team. “

When deciding whether to stay in academia or move into full-time industrial research, it is important to consider what you want from your career and lifestyle. Taylor found that she valued the work and life flexibility Facebook offered, and that her internship experience belied some of her ideas about working outside of academia. “I was afraid that research in industry would be less stimulating than the free thought of science, but that is not the case,” she says. “There is no shortage of important questions and complex challenges and I am constantly enriched by my colleagues, all of whom are incredibly talented scientists and engineers.”

Discover new perspectives and stay open-minded

Yanyi Song received her PhD from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and focuses on Bayesian methods, causal inference, and statistical learning. Yanyi switched to a full-time position as a research assistant after completing a data science internship last year. She saw an online post about the internship program and thought the position was an ideal match for her skills, interests and career aspirations.

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During the program, Yanyi worked on optimizing the user experience with the Facebook Ads Manager. “I was motivated by the challenge of thinking from the user’s perspective what was new for me,” says Yanyi. “We were tasked with building a data-driven model to improve the user experience, and it took a lot of cross-functional collaboration to achieve our goals. As an intern, you have access to exceptional researchers who are incredibly supportive. They are there to help, answer questions and empower you to share your ideas. “

“I also learned how important communication is when working with different departments,” she continues. “CDS works with teams on Facebook, and it’s a very different environment and pace than the academic world. I recommend anyone interested in joining CDS to prepare, ask questions, and maintain a growth mentality. At CDS you can work on projects that you are passionate about and there are endless opportunities to learn and try new things. “

Develop new skills and solve complex challenges

Daniel thomas recently completed a CDS internship and is now a research associate at Facebook. He received his PhD in political science from Columbia University, where he examined the dissolution, formation and re-creation of social networks during and after conflict.

“During an internship with the CDS team, there are set parameters for your work,” says Daniel. “My internship broadened my areas of interest and challenged the skills I had developed during my PhD program. I had the opportunity to work on a project to help us assess new network incidents that the engineering team implemented on Facebook. I was surprised by the fast paced environment and how quickly we can make a difference here compared to the research, review and publication process in science. Interns play an important role in teams and are expected to come up with ideas and recommendations and share codes and early numbers in meetings. Although I had a hard time getting unfinished results to these meetings at first, the challenge empowered me to quickly increase the efficiency of my coding. “

Daniel was inspired by the scalable impact he made on Facebook and became a full-time member of the CDS team after completing his internship. “The biggest difference I’ve noticed after moving to a full-time position is the strong sense of ownership,” he says. “Instead of assigning specific tasks, you are responsible for defining and driving your own projects. Facebook offers you a lot of assistance as you build your research path, which is amazing. I’ve learned to be more proactive and to communicate too much. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and set clear expectations so that you can better manage your time. “

Feeling inspired to make a meaningful impact

A graduate of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Saurabh Verma holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in computer science and is a research associate in the CDS team. His research focus is machine learning and includes deep learning models, natural language processing for Q&A systems and machine reading comprehension models, neural graph networks for learning graph representations, knowledge graphs for information retrieval and the analysis of social networks.

Saurabh wasn’t looking for an internship when he found a passionate team of problem solvers from diverse backgrounds at CDS. “I gave a presentation at a conference a few years ago and was invited to a Facebook networking event where I met my future manager,” he says. “I found the application process very inspiring. My conversations with recruiters and managers revealed tremendous opportunities for solving new challenges, including my work on integrity management and identifying abusive accounts during both of my internships. “

Researchers can continue the CDS internship program if they are still working on their doctorate after their first three-month internship. “After graduating and doing my second internship last year, I received a full-time offer,” says Saurabh. “As an intern, I was hyper-focused on certain parts of a large project. I enjoyed being challenged in my full-time position to see the larger project vision from start to finish. “

He continues, “My advice to anyone considering a CDS internship – and ultimately a full-time research position on Facebook – is to think carefully about the work you see yourself doing. Ask yourself: ‘What projects inspire me?’ You never know when opportunities will arise, but knowing what projects you’re passionate about can help you stumble into something great. “

Would you like to apply for an internship with the CDS team? Check out the careers page.

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