Facebook is rapidly changing, reinventing, developing, and creating the most innovated tools and code. To do this, they rely on a large team of engineers to develop, assemble, test, and push code. As Facebook has grown, little has changed in regards to the day-to-day of their computer science and engineering people. To describe a day in the life of a Facebook engineer, consulting an engineer that works at Facebook will shed the most accurate light on the day-to-day of such a prestigious position.
Keith Adams has been working at Facebook for over three years now, and works primarily with an intimate group that develops using PHP and HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM). To begin his day, Keith gets into his office and spends from 8am – 11am coding. This is time that he sets aside on his calendar to not be interrupted by meetings, or other distractions. He says that this is the best time for him to get uninterrupted coding and developing done. Often he will work on problems that arise in meetings and communications later in the day or overnight.
After the initial coding session of the day, he will have a nice lunch in the famed Facebook cafeteria. If there is one thing tech companies have learned – the best way to an engineer’s loyalty is through his stomach.
The second half of the day is generally spent in meetings or doing communication with other engineers on problems that have arisen, new designs, and potential ideas for the future. This part of the day is often reserved for working through code and problems with other engineers in a collaborative environment. The HHVM team will work together, coding, brain storming, and collaborating on issues from a live push, code errors, or ideas for new products that have been directed by the product design team.
Most of the work that is done at Facebook HQ is through Facebook itself. Groups are established for the different groups of engineers, designers, and developers, similar to those that the general public might find themselves in. The communication is done largely through Facebook which also helps to create a sense of realness in the products they are creating. Once a week the whole HHVM team meets in person to discuss and recap what is going on. A sort of status meeting that keeps everyone on the same page.
For Keith, whether he is in a meeting, hiring another engineer, or communicating in a Facebook group, the end result is to support the coding that he does. Often he finds that when it comes to his job, “You need everything else, but it’s all life-support for the actual coding.” The bottom line is that his job primarily revolves around coding; writing code, fixing old code, troubleshooting new code, and launching code.
Another requirement of Facebook engineers is an on-call period. Keith says that for a total of four weeks out of the year he is on-call for emergency issues at Facebook. These are issues that arise in the middle of the night and need to be looked at and troubleshot immediately. Although this is one of the more stressful parts of his job, in the last year, he has not been called once while being on-call.
Facebook has become the proverbial Mecca for software, computer, and electrical engineers. While the majority of the day is spent building, deconstructing, and evaluating code and software, there are still many day-to-day aspects that are the same as any other company. While Facebook may be the shiny light at the end of the tunnel for many engineers, the truth is that to succeed in any tech company, hard work, love for your job, and dedication to the vision of the company always needs to be in sight.