From an after school coding course to role at Facebook
From an after school coding course to a software engineering role at Facebook, it’s been a crazy ride for Jake Bloom. A UNSW Engineering Computer Science alumnus, Jake was snapped up by Facebook right after graduation.
“About a year ago, some Facebook recruiters came out to Sydney to run a hackathon for university students,” he says.
“I met some of the recruiters there and they encouraged me to apply for graduate jobs. I sent through my resume and they set up a phone interview for me.”
One phone interview turned into three, which turned into a flight to San Francisco for a face-to-face chat. The rest, as they say, is history – Jake’s now been writing code for Facebook as part of the Profile team for three months.
“Developing for Facebook Profile means that you need to be constantly thinking about scale. Facebook has billions of users, which means we can’t afford to write code that’s inefficient, because it will impact so many people,” he says.
“One of Facebook’s values is to ‘move fast’, and the pace of the work reflects that, which means every day is a new challenge.
“A typical day for me involves writing a lot of code, monitoring recent changes I’ve made to make sure they’re performing well and giving users a good experience, reviewing my teammates’ code and responding to their reviews on mine.”
Despite the pressure of working for one of the world’s most recognisable companies, Jake says that the School of Computer Science and Engineering (UNSW Computing) prepared him well for the diversity of opportunities on offer in his field. His degree was a constant exercise in being pushed to his intellectual limits – on day one, he says, he entered his first class with next to no programming skills – but it was also an opportunity to build the soft skills required to really get ahead.
He also gained solid workplace experience, taking up an internship with Atlassian as part of his degree. There, he worked on the development Confluence, a software program for team collaboration. The internship was Jake’s first taste of life in a big tech company, and of seeing just how far his degree might be able to take him.
“UNSW Computing prepared me for the workforce in two ways: technically and professionally. Technically, the Computer Science degree teaches you how to code, how to build a solution to a problem, and the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches,” he says.
“Professionally, I learnt a lot of networking and really developed my social skills. The emphasis on collaboration and code review in the early stages is also really valuable, since that’s what a workplace experience is like in the real world. Every great achievement in tech came from a team of people, so being able to work in a team is critical.”
The Computer Science degree teaches you how to code, how to build a solution to a problem, and the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches
That sense of teamwork extended far beyond group assignments – Jake says that campus life was as much a part of the university experience as the classes themselves. Not one to waste a minute, he threw himself into the CSESoc (UNSW Computer Science and Engineering Society) and the CSE Revue, an annual comedy sketch put on by computer science and engineering students; wrote articles for the CSESoc newsletter and the UNSW Engineering blog; organised a computing summer school for high school girls with an interest in programming; and organised a collaborative pub crawl with students from UNSW, UTS and the University of Sydney.
“UNSW Computing gave me the opportunity of total freedom to express myself technically, creatively and socially, and that’s an experience you’re unlikely to get anywhere else,” Jake says.
“I really miss the community at UNSW – every time I went to uni, there was a smiling face and a friend there to see, and that’s what got me out of bed every morning. The community there is what made the experience as amazing as it was.”