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Student Spotlights

Clay: Computer Science


Clay Coleman spent his summer in California interning at Facebook. He is a Computer Science major with a minor in Business Management and had an awesome experience working in his field of interest. Click to read more!

What did you do for your internship?

This summer, I worked at Facebook on their team, a team dedicated to bringing greater access to basic internet services to people living in developing nations.

From our mission statement page: "The internet is essential to growing the knowledge we have and sharing it with each other. And for many of us, it’s a huge part of our everyday lives. But most of the world does not have access to the internet. is a Facebook-led initiative with the goal of bringing internet access and the benefits of connectivity to the portion of the world that doesn’t have them. Imagine the difference an accurate weather report could make for a farmer planting crops, or the power of an encyclopedia for a child without textbooks. Now, imagine what they could contribute when the world can hear their voices. The more we connect, the better it gets."

At Facebook, I had the privilege of working with some of the most capable people I've ever met, working with teams in California, London, Dubai and Singapore.

Each Friday afternoon, a Facebook executive would hold a company-wide Q&A session in which anyone can ask a question about any aspect of the company. We also participated in hackathons in which engineers across the company were able to design and implement a new feature anywhere on the Facebook site.

Additionally, I had the opportunity of meeting so many other amazing interns from schools such as University of Michigan, MIT, Waterloo, and Purdue. The diversity of the interns was astounding, and I became friends with interns from Toronto, New Delhi, and even as near as Salt Lake (from UoU)!

Overall, my internship at Facebook was one of greatest opportunities of my life.

What was the most useful thing you learned from your internship?

One of the most amazing things I learned from my internship was an effective process of dealing with mistakes in the workplace. About halfway through my internship, I shipped code that had a reasonably serious mistake in it. Unfortunately, neither the various tests we had configured for this code nor my manager nor I were able to detect this mistake, and it was shipped to the live Facebook site. We quickly detected the error and fixed it.

Afterwards, I had anticipated that people would be frustrated or angry with the mistake, that they would treat me poorly as a result. However, the entire team was really supportive, demonstrated new ways to ensure that my changes and additions to the codebase would be tested thoroughly and completely, and overall allowed me to learn as much as I could from my mistake without shaming me for it. This was a very valuable lesson and a process that I will repeat when I am a leader on future teams and those I work with make similar mistakes.

What professional skills did you develop in your internship?

It's hard to pin down a single thing that I learned from my internship, so here are a couple skills and lessons I learned.

First and foremost, I had to utilize and develop my software engineering skills every single day. So many of the things which I've learned in the past in my CS courses at BYU came back to me and proved useful in the work place. As I was able to apply those things I had studied in classes, I was able to learn them much deeper.

Additionally, I had to use a lot of my human relations skills and learn how to navigate a complex work environment. Facebook, though incredibly open, is very structured and has some formal processes to which we must adhere. I learned how to interact with others and correctly use all the internal tools and processes here at Facebook. These intangibles are things that can't really be taught in classes or school, but must be learned on the job.

I also had to work on presenting software design and architecture, which factors in several different aspects of public speaking and research.

Clay Coleman
Clay Coleman with the California cityscape behind him-- one of the perks of his internship.