Q&A with Emily Watt ’19: What It’s Like to Intern at a Silicon Valley Tech Company | Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School


Q&A with Emily Watt ’19: What It’s Like to Intern at a Silicon Valley Tech Company

Emily Watt ’19 spent her summer in Silicon Valley interning at one of the largest technology companies in the world: Facebook. Emily tells us about her internship experience at Facebook, in partnership with the non-profit organization Girls Who Code, during which she spent five weeks with 19 other girls from throughout the Bay Area learning coding and interacting with professionals at the Menlo Park company.

Describe your internship at Facebook. What was your role? Who did you work with?
We spent five weeks learning different coding languages like Python, Arduino C, HTML, CSS,  and JavaScript. We also spent a week learning about data and how it's collected. It was offered to other girls who were going to be upcoming juniors or seniors...We had one teacher who worked for a tech company in New York and two TAs who are both college students.

What was the application/interview process for your internship?
For the application, we had to write an essay about what sisterhood means to us. Girls Who Code focuses a lot on togetherness and having a sisterhood between the girls in the program. I submitted the application around March, and heard back from them in May.

What was it like working for a large tech company in Silicon Valley? Was it what you expected?
Being at the Facebook campus was a great experience. Although I didn't get to work with their own code because I'm not as skilled yet as the other workers, we were assigned mentors from different departments who gave us advice on how to interview at tech companies, and helped us create LinkedIn profiles and our resumes. Being there was everything that I expected, except I didn't expect the warehouse-look that the buildings have. Another thing I didn't expect was how few women there were in the workplaces we went to.

What was your favorite part of the internship?
My favorite part of the internship was getting to learn how to code, getting to collaborate on the projects we were assigned, and the guest speakers that would come to our classroom to talk to us about college, the hiring process, their experiences at Facebook, and being a woman in the tech industry.

Do you want to pursue a career similar to your internship?
Yes, absolutely. The main reason I chose to spend my whole summer doing this program, rather than going on vacations or maybe college classes, was because I wanted to have the experience of working in a tech company and having to collaborate on coding projects. As we learned in our classes, it is rare in a tech company to be working on something by yourself. Usually, you'll be put into a team to collaborate on one project by dividing the components of it.

What are your goals for the future?
My future goal is to go to college to study computer science, and while in college, participate in a full-time paid internship either at Facebook again or maybe Google. After college I either want to start my own company based around helping others, or get hired at a big company like Facebook, but maybe in the Instagram branch since I'm more familiar with the app itself.

Do you have any advice for other students who would like to pursue an internship?
One thing that I learned from this internship was not only how to code, but how useful getting that head start is. A lot of the people we got to meet told us how they didn't discover their interest in computer science [until later on], and how they wish they would have learned [the programming] sooner. Also, learning how to work together on assignments is really important because if one person slacks off on something, then everyone suffers from it and you can't move on until it's done. All in all, my advice is if you have an interest or curiosity in something new, don't be afraid to try it.