Sam Dunster got his foot in the door at the social media giant via a 12-week production engineer internship in Menlo Park, California, USA, last year, which he applied for following a visit by to UOW by graduate and Facebook engineer Cooper Lees.

“Interning at Facebook was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. While most people work long hours (9am to 7pm) this is heavily offset by long meal breaks, special events or other activities. People often also work from home.”

Sam, whose fascination with computers began at the age of eight, will relocate to the US in February and enter Facebook Engineering Bootcamp. During this introductory period, Sam will be afforded the time to get to know the company’s processes and ethos and discover where he fits in best among the company’s army of engineers.

“Facebook doesn’t really hire for positions; I get to work with different teams with the expectation I’ll gravitate to one,” Sam recently told the Illawarra Mercury.

Experience matters
Though just 24 and a fresh graduate, Sam has a decent amount of work hours and experience to carryover with him to his first full-time job.

“I was always fascinated with being able to make computers do whatever I liked and this led to me learning my first programming language, ‘PHP’, around year 8 in high school. I built the school’s intranet website and I’ve built a number of web apps.

“Over the past six years, I have become more interested in the Systems Engineering side (rather than Software Engineering). I find this more interesting now because I get to manage large clusters of computers, their interactions and the overall resiliency of the systems that run on them.”

While a student, Sam was also employed by UOW’s IT services department, helping manage the University’s server infrastructure as well as developing products, such as the MYUOW app.

Sam has also been a volunteer with the State Emergency Service’s Kiama Unit, responding to calls for help from the general public while also managing the Unit’s IT systems. He built the Unit an innovative app that is changing the way the SES communicates with its volunteers.

“We’ve been using the system for close to four years … It’s been really good – I get lots of feedback that it makes it much easier not to have to fill out a stupid book all the time.” Sam told the Kiama Independent, adding that Shellharbour, Nowra and Parramatta Units have adopted the system.

“The internship program was really well organised; Facebook take care of everything. They provided relocation, including flights, accommodation and transfers and an apartment for the length of the internship. They provided rental bicycles to everyone and door-to-door shuttles to work every day. The restaurants at Facebook serve three meals a day, five days a week and there is a gym and plenty of other activities to do while at work. IT equipment, including a laptop, phone and any peripherals I needed, were issued on my first day.

“During the week there are regular special events where you can listen to Facebook’s leaders speak or sometimes even VIPs such as Hillary Clinton and on most weekends they organise special intern events where we got to visit national parks, museums or theme parks.”

Besides the perks of the job, Sam values something more fundamental to a positive work environment.

“Facebook has a really good management team who believe in openness and transparency – something I now highly value in an employer. The company as a whole is really good at getting stuff done when needed, but still able to have a lot of fun along the way.”