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Interns thought they could count on return offers. Then Meta dropped them.

Published: 10/02/2022

In the middle of the workday on July 12, Meta’s summer interns received an email with unexpected news: the company wouldn’t be giving return offers at the end of the 12-week internship, as it has done in the past

On Meta’s campus, the succinct and matter-of-fact email sent interns, many of whom were hoping the coveted internship would offer a direct path to full-time employment, into a frenzy. The well-paid, well-perked interns got humbled. And they were quick to air their frustrations online.

“ATTENTION @meta interns. Now that we got fired by Facebook does anyone wanna come together to create a startup?? Serious inquiries only,” reads a now-deleted TikTok by @sweintern, who had also recently posted, “You’ve never worked at Meta during a recession and hiring freeze, have you?” In an unofficial intern Discord, memes with Zuck’s morphed face were flying. One intern reported observing fellow interns in the Meta cafeteria on Leetcode practicing for other software engineering interviews. Another considered the news a license to dial back their effort, saying, “I went from 45 hours a week to 20.”

In an intern social group, one person had posted his extravagant weekend plans for the month — Mission Peak Hike, a horse ride near Daly City, and skydiving — and had asked if anyone else wanted to join him. Immediately after the return offer news, he made a followup post: “Plan canceled. I’ll be doing Leetcode.”

Amid mounting Meta scrutiny, paltry Q2 earnings, and increased competition from platforms like TikTok, Facebook’s pipeline from summer internship to lucrative post-grad career is getting leakier. “You could totally feel the drop in morale,” said an intern. “A lot of people would steal copious amounts of snacks from the kitchen. They were like, ‘If I’m not gonna get a job out of this, I have moral license to abuse the perks, or at least violate workplace etiquette.’” There was no longer quite as much to lose.

A week after the announcement, CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered an intern Q&A where employees could submit questions, and the session immediately devolved into a heated intonation regarding the return offer situation. One of the top-rated questions for Zuck asked him what company he would try to work at if he were an intern right now without a return offer. His responses, according to one intern who was there, were “canned HR language.” In the middle of the session, an intern posted in the group Discord, “I think this intern class hates him more than other classes.”

Since the July announcement about delaying the return offer process, Meta interns’ TikToks lavish “day in my life” videos, which practically comprise a genre of their own, have been peppered with teasing comments from other elite tech interns. “I’d rather have a return offer,” reads a top comment on a TikTok showing an intern boat party.

Of course, these are uniquely ambitious university students who have a top company on their resume, a monthly salary that far exceeds the typical American’s household income, and a network of like-minded peers. For students who have spent their entire lives grinding to achieve this exact sort of prestigious tech job, though, the news was still like a bomb. “I live in corporate housing with other interns and we all took the shuttle to work together. The news about return offers was all that anybody talked about,” said a 21-year-old university student who spent her summer doing a data science internship. “I found out that I’m ‘under consideration’ but I have no idea if I’ll be invited back,” she told Input.

Read More: Meta’s summer interns received an email with unexpected news

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