Close Menu

Humanities Ph.D. candidate Xi Rao accepts internship at Facebook

Xi RaoXi Rao, a Master of Science in Information Architecture alumna and second-year Ph.D. in Technology and Humanities candidate, has accepted a 12-week internship at Facebook. The internship will take place from August to November, 2017. Below, Rao shares how she landed the internship and what kind of work she'll be doing in Silicon Valley.

How did your Facebook internship come about? 

Xi Rao: I went to an academic conference, CSCW, in Portland in March. At that conference, Facebook had a table for recruiting user experience (UX) researchers. I talked with an employee at Facebook there who was interested in my research. And through the talk with her, I also found my interest in this position. So after I got back in Chicago, I applied for that position and that employee referred me to it. One day after that, I got an email from a recruiter and set up the interview.

What was the process for being selected?

XR: The interview process includes three steps: 

  1. A pre-screening phone interview with the recruiter to see what my skills are, and why I’m interested in working at Facebook;
  2. A video conference with one UX researcher talking about research methods;
  3. A video conference with three UX researchers to present my research plan.

After each step, the recruiter replied to me immediately, which was a very good experience. The whole process took about five weeks. At the end, the recruiter called me to tell me that I got the offer.

How did you feel when you learned you'd been offered the internship?

XR: It was a thrill. My research interest is social media analysis. So most [of the] time I study Facebook and Twitter. When I knew that I could actually work at Facebook to conduct research, I was so excited! Facebook now has 1.9 billion users—such a large number. I’m looking forward to making a difference.

What will you be doing for Facebook?

XR: I will work as a UX research intern at Facebook. The actual group has not been decided yet. Hopefully, I will conduct qualitative and quantitative methods such as interviews, surveys, and usability tests.

Why are you interested in this opportunity?

XR: I have always been interested in user experience research, which is why I came to Illinois Tech for this Ph.D. program. The training I had in Libby Hemphill’s lab gave me the skills to do this internship. When I talked with the UX researcher at CSCW, I found that what I did in our lab is very similar to what a UX researcher does, so I decided to apply for the position. Also, I want to explore what research would be like in the industry.