May 16 2022

From Linguistics to Reality Labs

By Meta Careers
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Danielle B.’s path to Meta in Zurich, Switzerland didn’t begin in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—though the city is also where she initially joined the Reality Labs team.
Instead, it began in a classroom abroad where she was studying Italian as part of her degree in Linguistics. Danielle’s professor supplied weekly prompts for students and one of them asked, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” For Danielle, the answer was as true that day as it is now: “I saw myself living somewhere in Europe with my kids and working for a tech company that was redefining the future in some way,” she remembers.
Although she says the path leading from that classroom in Italy to the Reality Labs team- in Zurich felt a bit non-linear at the time, it’s clear that Danielle was meant to follow her dream by living abroad, working in tech, and using her language and communication skills to connect people in meaningful ways.

Reality Labs: Building the future of connection with AR/VR

A technical program manager, Danielle says she feels fortunate to have joined the Reality Labs Research team six years ago because she was able to help shape the team’s core objective of building innovative AR/VR tools that connect people in new ways.
“We have a world-class team of researchers, developers, and engineers, and we’re pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” Danielle explains. “There’s a lot of variety in what a technical project manager can do, and no two days are ever the same. My communication skills have been a valuable asset from the start because I often act as a translator, liaising between stakeholders and teams to make sure we get everything done.”
It could be easy to get lost in the shuffle with so many quickly moving parts, but Danielle credits her team as a strong source of support—even encouraging her to follow her own interests and pursue learning opportunities, like a Python programming course at Carnegie Mellon. A single, working parent, Danielle says knowing her manager and team have her best interests at heart goes a long way. “Knowing my team supports and values my personal well-being enables me to do my best work,” she explains. “My current manager will say things like, ‘Dani, prioritize yourself and your son. The work will always be there—go spend time with Eli.’”
“Having the ability to schedule my day in a way that works for us has made all the difference in growing my career at Meta.”
Danielle and her son standing outside in front of snow-capped mountains on a sunny day.
Danielle and her son enjoying Switzerland on a sunny Saturday.

Driving innovation and impact in Zurich

Having a strong sense of support also empowered Danielle to relocate to Europe after one of her mentors mentioned they were planning to build a research team in Zurich. Making an international move can be complex, but thanks to Meta, Danielle says she had help coordinating everything from packing and finding housing abroad to securing visas for herself and her son. Despite working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions when she first arrived in Europe in 2021, Danielle remembers feeling included and inspired right from the start. Her new team hasn’t been the only thing she’s grown to love about working in Zurich, either: “I’ll never forget the first time I realized I could see the Alps from my new office!” she laughs.
“I remember asking my teammates what they thought the best thing about being part of the Reality Labs team was, and all of them agreed it was the people. I've experienced this firsthand—the people here are really what makes Meta so special.”
Now fully settled in, Danielle has been surprised by how energized she feels when she works from the office. “COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, so I go in a few times a week—most often on days when I have more meetings,” she explains. “I appreciate how Meta supports a hybrid schedule. I still work from home when I need to, which not only helps me be more productive during periods of time where I need deeper focus, but also makes my life a bit easier as a working parent. Having just a little bit of extra time in the morning after my son goes to school helps me tackle smaller tasks, which makes a big difference.”
Part of Danielle’s newfound flexibility has also influenced how she works cross-functionally with other teams as well as her own team which is split between 2 locations - in Sausalito, California and Zurich. “Part of my role is to support our growth as a global team, whatever that means for us on a given day,” she shares. “In addition to finding a routine for myself, I help ensure everyone across our team feels supported and well-balanced in their time zones.”

A glimpse into the future with Reality Labs

Danielle credits her strong belief in the work her team is doing as a source of motivation each day. “Innovative technology and products, such as AR/VR and Meta Portal, are making it possible for people to closely connect in ways we couldn’t have dreamed about before. In our house, we love using Meta Portal for storytime with my parents —even though they live in the US and we’re in Zurich.”
“My mom was worried that Eli wouldn't recognize her when he saw her in person. Thanks to our regular calls with Meta Portal, he knows exactly who his grandparents are!”
Danielle’s son laying on his bed with his cat and Meta Portal.
Danielle credits Meta Portal for helping her son stay connected with his grandparents, who live in Florida, while in Zurich.
Building the future of connection with new technology and lifelike avatars has the potential to impact other industries in a big way, Danielle explains. “Seeing how our work can improve lives around the world drives all of us to innovate. There’s massive opportunity for growth within Reality Labs team, and we’re tackling brand new challenges every day. I’m so excited to see what we will accomplish next.”

Meta is building the future of connection with new technology and lifelike avatars.
For those interested in building cutting-edge technology with Meta, Danielle has just one word of advice: Apply. “Don’t worry about having a non-traditional background or checking all of the boxes in a job description,” she advises. “Instead, highlight specific things you’ve done and are proud of, and tell us why the strengths you’ve developed are skills we need. Don’t let anything stop you from exploring an opportunity you feel passionate about. While it might not always be clear in the moment, when you follow your heart and stay true to what interests you, you’ll likely look back someday and connect all the dots.”.

Stay connected!

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