Two Years, 200+ Students In: Lessons learned from Meta's Production Engineering-focused pre-internship program
At Meta, almost all of our early-career Production Engineering (what we call SRE at Meta) hires are former student interns. But, most university students do not even know that something like SRE exists as a career path, and even if they do, most schools do not provide the relevant coursework, training, and social connections that would enable these students to pass a typical intern interview at a large tech company.
To address these gaps, in 2021 we partnered with Major League Hacking to start our first SRE-focused, fully remote pre-internship program, with ~100 college students, focusing on diverse participants who would normally not be recruited by our traditional internship recruiting pipelines. Our program aimed to bridge these gaps, both to educate students about SRE, and give them the tools to get -- and succeed at -- internships or entry-level industry positions in SRE. Using the information and experience from 2021, we ran the program again in 2022, again with ~100 college students, and again focusing exclusively on diverse participants.
Students built their SRE skills by learning Linux fundamentals and digging into the core tools they would use in a real world job setting like Git, Python, Docker, and Linux systems troubleshooting. Students also get substantial work on interview and career preparation, and the core socio-technical concepts around SRE. Through a combination of online and hands-on learning, group projects and mock interviews, we prepare students to pass interviews and do the jobs of early-career SRE’s.
In this talk we will talk through the motivations and design of the program, as well as discuss results and learnings from the first two years of the program. We are trying to expand and grow the program out to other organizations, and it is our hope that other organizations will be interested in this program as well as a result of this talk.
We believe that this is a very important and timely topic because almost every tech company is now making serious attempts to improve their overall company-level diversity -- especially in traditionally less diverse fields such as SRE -- but there are no easy solutions. Although it will be some years before we have complete data, we believe our program, especially if implemented more widely across the industry, could be a very effective way of helping to improve diversity in specializations like SRE and the tech industry as a whole.
In 2022 I did a talk at SREcon Americas covering the first year of the program: https://www.usenix.org/conference/srecon22americas/presentation/ryan