Nov 02 2022

How three PhD scientists provide research-backed impact at scale

By Meta Careers
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At Meta, research permeates everything we do. Our expert teams of scientists and engineers work quickly and collaboratively to build smarter, more meaningful experiences on a global scale by solving some of the most challenging technology research problems
We recently caught up with three PhD research scientists, Nathan M., Hyo Jin K. and Laila W., to discuss why they chose to join Meta, the real-world impact of their work and their advice for candidates.

Driving impact

“Prior to joining Meta, my research focused on conflict and terrorism. I felt it was disconnected from making a real-world impact, and I was not confident I was actually making the world a better place. That’s why I decided to join Meta, where I knew I could work on impactful research that could help the world. Now, I’m on the Computational Social Science team within Core Data Science (CDS) at Meta. My research interests vary, but I primarily focus on understanding the evolution of network structures, particularly of hate and terror groups, and healthy communities.
Our team is multidisciplinary and we often collaborate with other teams and orgs at Meta. I get to work with people that have a wide range of skills and backgrounds—from engineers to sociologists, to other political scientists and area experts— to solve important problems that we can't solve alone. Right now, my team is working on election protection.
For many PhD researchers within academia, publishing peer-reviewed publications can be their number one priority—it was for me when I joined. But as I continued to work on issues of critical importance to real lives, my priorities changed. I'd rather push on the next big problem than spend time reworking a draft and work on the most important questions instead of the most publishable questions. However, we are still very engaged with the research community. My team and I attend conferences, coauthor with outside researchers and still publish papers.” —Laila W., research scientist, Computational Social Science
"Laila W., smiling in an office"

Culture of collaboration and support

“In academia PhD studies, it’s common to work independently as you don’t have much bandwidth to help others in your field and vice versa. But working at Meta, if you become stuck, everyone is very proactive in offering help and support. That was one of the many reasons I decided to join.”
I’m currently part of the Reality Labs (RL) org. I’m building upon my PhD work, which is focused on computer vision and machine learning. My team works on visual localization and 3D reconstruction, where I work on image representations to improve image matching. We’re a pretty big team, and everyone is so enthusiastic about what they do. This inspires me to bring my best self to work every day.
When I joined Meta, I was surprised by the openness and transparency of not just my team, but the entire company. For example, Mark has a weekly Q&A with the entire company, and senior researchers are always eager to help you and provide feedback. There is a big emphasis on cross-team collaboration as well. Workplace, a communication tool that connects everyone in the company, makes it easy to collaborate and exchange ideas. Working here has helped me grow exponentially, both personally and professionally. I get to work on cutting edge research, and I have endless resources to help me with my research.” —Hyo Jin K., a research scientist at Reality Labs
"Hyo Jin K. smiling while sitting down"

Moving the industry forward

“Five years ago I was in the middle of my PhD and decided to interview for a research internship at Meta. After interning for a while I moved to a contractor position. Now I'm full-time and work on the Display Systems Research team within the FRL org.
One of the biggest benefits of working here is the range of expertise in multiple fields. Just on our floor, there’s such a diversity of skill sets I get to learn from. We have a bottom-up culture, which means there is no top-down direction of what we should do because the entire point is to come up with new ideas. It starts with the individual through discussion and collaboration, and from there it turns into a project. I’ve heard from candidates who worry about doing work that isn’t creative, but that’s not the case. FRL is one of the largest, most academic technology labs I’ve ever worked in.
When I joined Meta as a research intern, it was the first big company I’d ever worked at. Before grad school, I had only worked at small studios in entertainment, or as an independent contractor, because I had a fear that large companies might be soul-sucking places to work. I was pleasantly surprised when I joined—Meta was exactly what I was looking for. There is no monotony, but instead, stability and incredible resources.” —Nathan M., research scientist, Reality Labs
"Nathan M., smiling outside"

Tips from a recruiter

“The interview process is thorough but personable. We are not looking for someone to say all the right things or be perfect. Instead, we want to understand how you problem-solve and what motivates you. Here are my top tips for candidates participating in the recruiting process:
  • Answer questions with enough depth so that the interviewer can understand your problem-solving skills. Try not to go too high level in your answers.
  • Speak in detail about your research. Be prepared to talk about your decision-making process in your work and what tradeoffs you considered.
  • Research the team you are interviewing with and be prepared to describe why you want to join that team. What innovative work do you want to focus on?
We are in need of people who are excited about leading innovation and solving problems that don’t yet have solutions. Want to join Meta’s Research team as an intern or a research scientist? We’re hiring!” —Anya S., PhD Recruiter, Reality Labs
"Anya S., smiling outdoors"
This post, originally published on September 15, 2020, was updated on November 2, 2022, to reflect our shift to Meta and new details about team members, roles and responsibilities.

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