1. “This is a question I get asked fairly frequently by interview candidates, so I’ve given it a bit of thought,”says, Keith Adams, Software Engineer at Facebook, who has spent 4 long years at the organization, working at the back-end, HHVM and PHP engine.
“The worst thing about working at Facebook for me has been on-call duty. Most engineering teams run complex, frequently modified software in production. Since things have a way of going wrong, teams have a rotating responsibility for responding to unanticipated emergencies. Since these can happen any time, day or night, and are of unknowable scope and severity, being oncall is a serious responsibility; many millions of users are affected every minute the site is broken, ” he adds.
Explaining further, he says, “My current team’s rotation lasts for two weeks, and rolls around two to three times per year. For those two weeks I don’t leave town on the weekend; make especially sure not to have “one too many” at any social gatherings I attend; and most importantly, carry and immediately respond to a charged phone where I can be reached 24/7, including leaving the ringer on on the nightstand as I sleep. And yes, once or twice a year that phone does go off at some bizarre hour to rouse you from your slumber and go fight a fire in production.
While it can be satisfying to help get the site back in order when it’s sick, it really is not for everyone. This part of the job just isn’t fun for me; I find debugging under time pressure through a 3 a.m. haze stressful.”First Look – Facebook’s New HeadQuarters at Menlo Park, California.
2. “I’m a Facebook engineer who’s been with the company for two years. I want to first say that I’m really happy at Facebook — on balance, it’s a truly fantastic place to work. I also want to note that Facebook is a company with several thousand employees. As such, the company is far from monolithic — there are things that are bad about working for specific groups at the company, or in specific roles, so the answer will naturally vary from group to group, role to role, or location to location. That said, there are a couple of things that seem to pervade the company,” a user that wishes to remain anonymous, said.
His first beef with the organization is their take on ‘professionalism’ – where employees “are (implicitly) encouraged to be themselves at work”. Employees use the same account for work that they do for the “outside world” and are expected to partake in the unofficial sport of the company – beer pong, where you drink with your co-workers, socialize, hang out outside of work(with people from inside of work), talk about your life.
According to him, this has a significant downside – “At most companies, you put up a wall between a work personality and a personal one, which ends up with a professional workspace. This wall does not exist at Facebook, which can lead to some uncomfortable situations.”
3. Working by the thumb rule of, ‘Move fast and break things’, Facebook is rapidly growing by a factor of 2 every 18 months or so, for which it does not have “a truly functional infrastructure,” said the same user.
“We’re trying to figure out how the philosophy of empowering people to just build cool things works in a company with 4,000 employees instead of 500; we’re definitely not there yet. It seems weird to complain about the lack of bureaucracy, but it’s a problem right now because we’re growing so fast and have never emphasized organization, polish, or stability,” he added.
Philip Su, Director of Facebook London Engineering Office, emphasizes a similar point on his blog – “Over the past two years, the number of engineers at Facebook has more than doubled, but the rate of source code commits continues to grow proportionally with the number of engineers. This is in clear violation of the law that Fred Brooks established nearly 40 years ago in The Mythical Man Month, and that’s exactly what this “supposed” productivity is: myth. I see engineers around me committing code all the time, releasing new features onto the site every week, and I just sit back and chuckle to myself. Happy, happy fools.”
Inside the Facebook Office | 10 coolest things you get as a Facebook Employee!
4. “I chose to work at Facebook. They contacted me and recruited me from a job,” starts off another anonymous user. “This was the single greatest feeling I ever had. I felt privileged, honored in fact, to work with a company that has a huge public mission and has such a positive social impacting game plan. I drank it up. Interview after Interview I felt more and more excited and set on being a part of Facebook.”
“The first two days of orientation are spent mainly on you understanding the culture. While I believe and understand that the culture is important, the emphasis seems too much. Instead of a heavy focus on what “make an impact” means to the company and your particular role, it’s more about how not to break the circle of trust with the cool people.
The sentiment is that they only hire the best people for the best company in the world, so go compete! The company pushes this constantly. Its so overbearing that you almost feel like they are trying to convince themselves.
I walked away from that orientation terrified that if I didn’t find something that would put my name in neon lights within three months, I would be fired.”
Lack of team structure makes for a constant struggle, as “majority of the management staff has little idea or focus on creating a team.” This might make for a suitable atmosphere of work for some people, but for others, who like to know where the guard rails are, who work well with guidance on – what it means to be successful, what growth looks like, and how you can make an impact as an employee – the lack of ‘us’ and opposed to ‘me’, and the emphasis on ‘personal wins’, can very easily be a nightmare.
On related note, another user adds, “As a contractor and back fill for someone on maternity leave, I was temporarily assigned with very little guidance or support. Instructions were not clear, everything was a guessing game, and I was immediately set up to fail.”
5. Amongst all the answers that bear a stark negative connotation, former Software Engineer Intern at Facebook, Jinghao Yan, chimes in with – “The worst thing about working with Facebook is that I have but one stomach for all the food.” (Haha?)
6. Another former Facebook intern questions the choice of Facebook’s primary programming language being PHP, and how Facebook – the product, being closely related with the Development process, makes for a very distracting job profile.
“The attitude of – ‘move fast and break things’ – is not necessarily a bad thing, but the way engineering is approached at Facebook in extremely flawed, in my opinion,” he said,”The company is definitely not as strict and careful, when it comes to privacy,” he adds.
7. A lot of employees also find the concept of having an open-space, no-cubicle style office – mind boggling. “When you have huge rooms filled with rows and rows of picnic style tables with people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with six inches of separation, there is zero privacy,” said one user.
8. A 2012 Facebook intern notes that although Facebook is an awesome place to work, and he’d love to go back, if he had no better alternative – what turned him off during his time there was “the complete lack of focus on his team, and no clear vision for the future of a product”.
“I was told that the product I was working on was extremely important and was going to be completely rewritten in 6 months. As a result, I was instructed to simply fix bugs and make small scale improvements where I could. On the last day of my internship, the team decided that it was not worth completely rewriting the project. Last time I checked, this project has been redesigned, but is essentially the same as it was when I interned there,” he said,”I think the bigger problem was that I had rather ineffective management. As an intern, this crippled the project,” he adds.
9. Another reported issue is that of “code quality that varies greatly between teams.”
“Some teams believe that ‘testing’ slows down the development process, while some teams believe that ‘testing’ helps to speed up the development process by eliminating uncertainty,” a user told.
10. Lastly, there are employees that believe that Facebook is a large company, that is trying to act like a young one. “This is kind of like an Adam Sandler movie where he’s old but wants to act like a teenager,” one of them said, which makes things rather “awkward”.