Facebook’s Recipe for Hiring New Grads: A Case of Mutual “Likes”

November 3, 2015

The new school year is fully underway. And, amid all the excitement of new classes and reconnecting with friends, students are already thinking about internships and jobs next summer. As Facebook’s Head of People, I'm thinking about it too.

We love experienced hires at Facebook, but we also see tremendous value in hiring new graduates for their fresh eyes and enthusiasm. In my nearly eight years at Facebook, we have heavily invested in our university hiring. In fact, we hire hundreds of interns every year.

Here are just a few of the things we’ve learned along the way:

1. Invest in interns

Interns are an important part of our community and there is tremendous mutual benefit for students and for Facebook. Yes, it’s an opportunity for students to gain valuable industry experience. But, it also helps us identify the next generation of great recruits before they head out into the world. We get to know them and they get to know us.

If done right, interns will seed a class of new grads for the following year, providing a strong start and great visibility into your future hiring class. And, our interns do fantastic work. They add fresh thinking, they try new things, and they ask great questions that challenge our assumptions and shake up the status quo.

Over time, we’ve expanded our internship experiences to include three separate programs: Internships for college students, Facebook University (a college training program targeting underrepresented groups in computer science like people of color and women), and Facebook Academy, which provides opportunities to under-privileged high school students who live in the local community around our company headquarters in Menlo Park, California. All three are an important source of talent and learning for us.

2. Consider what students really love

Many companies rely on grades as a harbinger of future performance. But, we look outside of the course syllabus and the classroom to see who a student is and what energizes them.

In looking for engineering talent, for instance, consider coding competitions, projects outside of schools, app-building, start-ups, math and programming Olympiads and other unique activities or hobbies students may have. 

3. Tailor your program and plan for success 

If you're hiring 20 interns, you'll want a different strategy than if you're hiring 200, or 2,000. Before you start, consider how many students you will want to hire full-time at the end of the next school year. Define the criteria you will use to determine who will get a return offer.

It's important to plan ahead to avoid meeting great people you want to hire but can’t given the hiring plan or other constraints at your organization.

4. Give new grads and interns real work

At Facebook, our interns do real work. They ship code in the first few days and get immediate feedback on their work. They join teams of engineers who are building products that we launch to the community of nearly 1.5 billion people who use Facebook or the 400 million who use Instagram.

For example, two interns built our Rainbow Filter app that allowed people to apply a rainbow filter to their profile picture in support of Pride. That app was used by 35 million people. The impact was real.

Doing real work also gives interns a sense of what they would do if they joined us after graduation – an important consideration as they weigh their options for the future. 

5. Keep in touch

Because interns are such an important part of our Facebook community, we stay in touch throughout the year and plan for many of them to return to Facebook after they graduate.

They share helpful insights and feedback throughout the year, and we try to help them maintain the relationships they made while they were here. We hope that they get as much out of staying in touch as we do.

Hiring new graduates takes planning, time and commitment. I hope you’ll find, as we do, that the investment is well worth it. See you on campus! 

*Image from Facebooklife

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