A Summer at Facebook
How does it sound to spend time at one of the most popular social networking sites in the world?
That’s what Mariano Avila did with his summer, working as a product design intern through the competitive Facebook University (FBU) program. During this hands-on, immersive, eight-week training program, interns have the opportunity to create a feature or product that is then released to over two billion Facebook users.
"My internship at Facebook was the best professional experience, and one of the best personal experiences, I've had to date," Avila shared. "For two months, I was surrounded by some of the smartest, most driven people in the world. I got to work alongside people who have built and sold multiple companies, people attending top universities, and people who are building the future of technology. The people I've met, the products I've built, and the experiences I've had are all things I will never forget. I've learned more than I could've imagined, and I hope to share that knowledge with other students at the university."
Avila, a junior psychology major, is taking the majority of his elective courses in computer science and philosophy. These may seem like an odd arrangement of classes, but they actually go hand-in-hand in the world of product design.
While at Facebook, Avila’s background in philosophy was helpful in understanding how to retain users and build products that make them feel comfortable on the app, while his background in visual design aided him in creating the visual aspects of features and products.
“I’ve always been big into creating things. I started out making films, which led to making music, which led to design. I love the idea of bringing something new into the world."
A native of Owasso, Okla., Avila was drawn to OU because of the strong entrepreneurship program and since it was a local school that put innovation first.
“I’ve always been big into creating things,” Avila explained. “I started out making films, which led to making music, which led to design. I love the idea of bringing something new into the world. It’s great to see something I put so much work into be used by millions of people.”
Some projects Avila has been involved in include Matching Donations, which he created his freshman year that raised tens of thousands of dollars for the ACLU and was featured in Fortune, Lifehacker, and Fuse due to the project’s success. As a sophomore, Avila did freelance work with startups in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and he built a cryptocurrency startup with a team in LA that recently raised $12 million.
Avila's work has also had a direct impact on OU. Along with a group of fellow students, he built One, an internal system that put all the functionality of the university's websites under one domain. This go-to spot includes grades, enrollment, financials, calendars, advisement schedules, and other features frequently accessed by students and faculty.
Following graduation, Avila wants to continue building products and eventually start his own company or companies. Down the line, he would also like to get into venture capital investing and back design-led startups and then branch outside of technology and produce movies.
In Avila’s time as a Sooner, the people he has met on campus have aided in his success, giving him feedback on projects and introducing him to new people in his field.
“Be proactive about meeting people,” Avila said. “Reach out to people at the university, go online and meet people, go to meet ups. There are countless ways to meet people in whatever field you’re interested in."