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NJIT collaborates with Facebook to boost opportunities for women and minorities

New Jersey Institute of Technology students have been given an opportunity to participate in Facebook’s Engineer-in-Residence Program whose primary objective is to increase the number of women and minorities entering the high-tech world. The program includes many extracurricular activities ranging from technical interview preparation workshops to dedicated support from a Facebook program manager and recruiter.

Over 250 students participated in Facebook-led activities at NJIT over the past year. “Our partnership with Facebook has been a tremendous advantage for our students,” says Craig Gotsman, Dean of NJIT’s Ying Wu College of Computing. “One of our primary goals is to prepare students to excel in the high-tech world. Through our work with Facebook, our diverse student body has received valuable insight that will aid them in the classroom and beyond.”

Three of the students share their experiences after participating in the program.

Catarina DeMatos

Catarina is one of five interns at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California this summer and intends to return for a second internship next year. Her participation in the program started in the Fall 2018 intake with her Computer Science (CS114) class with Facebook software engineer Miki Friedmann as an instructor. He is a visiting faculty member at NJIT’s Ying Wu College of Computing.

It was a fun experience for Catarina and her classmates. Miki Friedman always records videos of his lectures for students to review and makes himself available outside of class. “He was very engaged, very energetic,” she says.

Almost all Facebook entry-level technical hires are graduates of their internship program.

Teslim Olunlade

Teslim is a sophomore computer science major who was also enrolled in Miki Friedmann’s class during his first semester at NJIT. He also applied for an internship at the Facebook University campus in California and got in last summer. “It felt a little surreal. When I first set foot on campus, it was a little overwhelming,” he says of his initial reaction upon arrival. It was quite a memorable experience for Teslim. He was one of the hundreds of students who stayed in accommodation provided by Facebook, picked up daily by a shuttle and taken to the office where all meals and snacks are provided throughout the day. All interns are assigned to specific teams to work on various software engineering projects for the duration of their program. 

Michael Vaks

Michael is a senior double major in computer science and applied mathematics. He will be graduating in December and will be joining Facebook’s Manhattan office in the spring as a software engineer.

Michael says that the technical interview preparation and his participation in a programming contest with the second Facebook Engineer-in-Residence John Tsai equipped him and provided him with the experience to land a full-time job with Facebook.

He also reveals that he went to a technical interview preparation session every week during his sophomore year. He interned at the company twice, one in Menlo Park, California and the other in Manhattan, New York.

During his Facebook internship, Michael worked in a team focusing on client-side infrastructure for Instagram.

Key takeaway

The Engineer-in-Residence Program is a flagship computer science education initiative undertaken by Facebook. “Our mission is to eliminate underrepresentation in tech by driving innovations to the CS curricula,” says Christian McIntire, Facebook’s EIR Program Manager. “We’re giving all students an opportunity to be competitive and build careers in the tech sector. It’s a pathway to opportunities.”

He adds that the company’s work with students begins early to give them an opportunity to build their network of connections. “Beyond promoting diversity in tech, our other goal in the Engineer-in-Residence Program is to make the course work more industry-aligned and as relevant as possible.”

Regardless of whether students choose to pursue a career at Facebook or another tech company, McIntire points out that their work with students through coaching competitive programming teams and technical interview preparation will come in handy. “These extracurricular activities contribute to a culture of computer science on campus, cultivate a community of peers for challenge and support, and provide an opportunity to practice and grow their skills outside the classroom.”

 

This article was first published on NJIT’s website.