If you want a Facebook internship, try playing Starcraft 2

Former Facebook interns share advice on how to land one of those coveted jobs

starcraft_2-290x218_0.jpgImage credit: flickr/Gabriel Saldana
This could be your key to a Facebook internship!

Now that 2014 is here, you no doubt have a list of New Year's resolutions that you're already working to meet. Are you a college or grad student whose resolutions include getting an internship at a big technology company? If so, then there's a recent thread on Quora that you'll want to read about how to get an internship at one of the biggest (or at least most well-known) technology companies: Facebook.

A number of people who secured one these coveted internships have shared their experiences of how they got the job. If this is something you're shooting for, it's well worth reading the full thread. I took a spin through it and found some choice nuggets of advice, from how to get noticed to how to pass the interview process.

Get noticed by a Facebook recruiter

First thing you need to do, of course, is to get the attention of a Facebook recruiter. You can always start with the straightforward method of applying to a specific internship on their website. You can also take one of their Facebook programming challenges, which worked for one person on Quora.

"I did a cool coding problem on their careers page for practice. I did well on this problem, and was given a phone interview a few days later." Adam Faulkner

If you don't have luck with these traditional approaches, you could get a little more creative (or spend a little money), like this person did:

"I stalked LinkedIn and mapped out a small network of the Facebook university recruiters.I paid $30 to send 3 messages on Linkedin. Then I got an email from Facebook. Interviewed. Accepted the internship." Tommy Crush

Of course, sometimes a little luck can help; you never know when a Facebook recruiter may see you or your work.

"I posted a link to a project that I was working on to either Reddit or Hacker News. Someone at Facebook saw this and I was contacted by a recruiter." Reid Horuff

My favorite story on this thread was by a guy who made a Facebook contact through an online game that helped lead to an internship (click the link to read his whole story).

"tl;dr: Starcraft 2." Mark Peng

Build up your coding portfolio

Even if you get the attention of someone at Facebook, you need to give them enough reasons to interview you. A number of people noted the importance of building a portfolio outside of your schoolwork. A good way to do that is by contributing to open source.

"If you have the time, try to contribute to an open source project. This is a great way to increase your code reading skills (when you get to Facebook you're going to be reading A LOT of code)." Reid Horuff
"... I actively participated in the open source projects. I learnt a lot from the open source community and really enjoyed working with the smart guys. Such projects made me gain precious experience that I couldn't get from the projects in the university." Yexi Jiang

Know how to code

In the end, if you're going for a technical internship, you'd better know how to code. Several commenters discussed the technical interview process

"... I was asked some programming problems to code on collabedit for 45 min each. The questions were mostly on Linked Lists, BSTs, Bit Manipulation, DP, recursion and some basic algorithms." Rahij Ramsharan
"I was given two phone interviews a few days apart. The interviews were mostly programming, with some discussion of me and the company." Eliot Ball
"You need to be a strong coder and have a solid understanding of algorithms and data structures." Reid Horuff

Good advice, all the way around, I think. While dumb luck can always help, you can't beat good old hard work and initiative with a sprinkling of creativity. Good luck getting that internship!

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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