David Tao

@davidtao

My first 10 days @Twitter NYC

TL;DR: It’s f*@king #amazing

IMAGE COURTESY HLW INTERNATIONAL. PHOTO BY CHRIS COOPER

Today marks the end of my 10th day as an Intern in Twitter’s New York office, and my oh my what a 10 days it has been. Amidst the excitement, warm welcomes, and busy #FlightSchool orientation, here are three things that stood out about the office that makes me unbelievably excited for the rest of the summer.

  1. The emphasis on professional development for students isn’t just a recruitment slogan. It has become evident to me that Twitter truly cares about its interns’ professional development. Right off the bat, every intern is paired with a mentor and a manager who will guide he/she throughout the summer and be the first point of contact for all questions. My mentor and manager (shoutout to Lee and Ash) have been super helpful and are clearly invested in me professionally, both at Twitter and beyond, which is amazing to see. They’re interested in my academic and career interests, and have made an effort to provide projects that align with them. Additionally, Twitter also offers hundreds of internal classes for employees and interns to expand their knowledge base during their down time while at work. They span from “Tableau Essentials” to “Mastering Technical Interviews for Engineers”, and any employee can sign up to teach a class on a topic they are knowledgeable about. During my first week, I took a great class on Deep Learning led by the Cortex team that exposed me to how Twitter utilizes neural nets in its targeting and timeline products. I think it is wonderful to see strong commitments to employee development and training, and will definitely be taking more classes throughout the summer. Furthermore, these past 10 days has been filled with 1:1 chats and introductory meetings with employees across the country to address any and all of my questions. I have been encouraged to speak up, and was told early on that there are no stupid questions. Everyone I met with was generous with their time and eager to help explain confusing processes and concepts. There is a great learning atmosphere here at Twitter, and I am excited to see what the next 10 weeks will bring.
  2. The office doesn’t feel like an office, and work doesn’t feel like work. On the outside the West 17th Street office may appear unimposing, but the facade quickly fades once you step inside the lobby. Twitter’s 12 story corporate headquarters is a gorgeous space adorned with art, open areas (no cubicles anywhere), tall windows, exposed brick, and filled with modern furniture straight out of a West Elm catalogue. Besides a fully stocked kitchen on most floors with craft beer, cold brew, and Rosé on tap, there is a basement speakeasy, a roomy cafeteria with ample natural light, and, of course, an entertainment space with arcade games and a ping pong table.
PC: KENDREK LYONS (@KENDREK).
PC: KENDREK LYONS (@KENDREK).
Basement Speakeasy. PC: Chris Cooper.
A typical (free!) lunch at Twitter. PC: KENDREK LYONS (@KENDREK).

In addition to the comfortable atmosphere of the office that makes it hard to leave, the culture itself is friendly and inviting making work, dare I say, fun? For example, every Thursday starting at 3:30pm a Drink Cart with some delicious alcoholic concoction is brought around as a preemptive celebration for the upcoming weekend (unfortunately, you must be 21+ to take part, aka not me). There are also a bunch of groups employees can join around personal hobbies (my favorites are “Twitter Movie Buffs”, “Foosball”, and “Hip Hop”). Interns are privileged to organized outings as well. My calendar for the rest of the summer includes paint balling, Chelsea Market food tour, Amateur Night at The Apollo, Yankees game, Escape the Room, Dinner at the Frying Pan, and more. Fun fun fun.

3. The commitment to diversity is real. It is no secret many of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies struggle with creating an inclusive and diverse culture. From my experiences thus far, Twitter seems well aware of this fact and actively working to be a force of change. In one of my first orientations, I learned about the Twitter Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs are internal affinity groups for underrepresented Twitter employees and allies. Different groups include TwitterAlas (employees of Latino and Latin American descent and allies), BlackBirds, TwitterOpen, TwitterWomen, TwitterAsians, Stripes (for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families), and TwitterParents (for employees with children). Beyond access to these support organizations, all employees, including interns, are also required to undergo “Inclusion & Unconscious Bias” training as part of initiatives to support diversity imperatives. And just today, bathroom signage was updated to include signs that read “self-identified [wo]men and gender diversity is welcome here”. I’m proud to be working at such a progressive company, and I hope Twitter will become a model for other tech companies to emulate.

I definitely feel incredibly lucky to be working at Twitter, and I highly encourage other students to apply for the next summer. It truly is an awesome company. Plus, you get paid to go on Twitter. What more could you want?

You can reach me on Twitter @dtao114 or email me at Dtao114@berkeley.edu. Thanks for reading!

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