Facebook recently put the spotlight on internships and women in tech with an informative Facebook Live discussion with their very own interns. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg talked with interns about their summer experience with the social media giant and why there's a focus on getting more women involved in technology.
Sandberg spoke with USC communication student Joy Ofodu and Berkeley electrical engineering and computer science student Nicole Rasquinha about why people are so interested in internships and the importance of women having a seat at the table in the tech world. Ofodu is a part of Instagram's teen community team, and Raquinha is a software engineer for Facebook Messenger.
"People are fascinated with internships, so we're here to talk about women in tech and internships," Sandberg said.
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While the young women agreed that internships come with perks and even mentioned they make great material for movies like The Intern, the opportunity to contribute to something bigger and apply their education to something influential is what really draws the interests of millennials.
"I think the most important part of an internship is having that exposure, and getting the chance to try out what a real job is in the real world," Rasquinha said. "We do school for 16 years, and it's great to be able to actually put those skills to use."
Ofodu added that interning gives people the chance to fail and learn from their mistakes while gaining the skills they need for the future.
"Studying communication, I think there are so many different places you can go to really sink your teeth into a niche role and that's so important," Ofodu said. " It gives you that chance to fail. You could fail over and over and over again and learn from your mistakes. And it's OK."
Ofodu and Rasquinha explained what they've been doing as summer interns with Facebook, adding that they've been given the opportunity to contribute, work on real projects and put their skills and ideas to use. Rasquinha said people at Facebook celebrate when they receive contributions and ideas from interns.
"At a place like Facebook, you get to see it at scale. It's not a joke," Rasquinha explained. "You have real projects and people trust you."
"I was very interested in entertainment. It's an exciting field, but I was particularly drawn to tech because of the big impact it has, knowing that at Instagram the work that I do can impact 700 million people," Ofodu said. "Tech is so close to people. We want to influence what people think. We want them to treat each other better and kinder. They're on their phones every single day. That's what drew me to tech, knowing that I'm smart enough and capable enough to make an impact on this field."
According to Level Playing Field Institute, women dominate the workforce where 56 percent of professional jobs are held by women. Women also dominate social media networks, with more than half of the users on Twitter and Facebook being women. However, the tech world is still dominated by men. Only 28 percent of propriety software jobs are held by women, and they only hold 25 percent of IT jobs. Ofodu and Rasquinha are both interested in being a part of the change and making a difference in the tech world and how women and minorities are represented.
"My lofty, grand goal is to completely revamp and revitalize the representation of black people and women on screen," Ofodu said. "And that's any type of screen. I think it can start with film because it's a really touching place when we go to the movies and we don't think we're learning but we are learning. So I think that would be a great way to dig in and hit home and start feeding out more positive representations because that's who I am. That's my background and I really want to be able to tell the world my story but tell the world a collective story of positivity and empowerment because I don't think we're getting enough of it right now."
See more of their discussion about women in tech in the video above.