UOW graduate's unexpected email from fb.com

A Wollongong computer "dork" who went on to work for Facebook in Silicon Valley has returned to tell computer science students how they can get a foot in the door with the social networking behemoth.

University of Wollongong network engineer graduate Cooper Lees lives in San Francisco, a 45-minute drive from his desk at Facebook's famed Menlo Park headquarters - a kind of adult's playground set amid sun-drenched grassy knolls, where the perks include free breakfast burritos, gelato and a shuttle service into work.

At the UOW on Wednesday, 28-year-old Mr Lees - an operations engineer who works on Facebook's site reliability - told a group of students he got his big break at 26, when an email unexpectedly arrived from "fb.com".

"It said, 'We'd like you to apply for Facebook'," Mr Lees told the room on Wednesday.

"After I replied to the email, within about an hour I had a phone call from a friendly American girl called Sherie, and I think the very next day I had my phonecall interview."

Mr Lees described the extensive interview process that followed. He told the Mercury his first impression of the headquarters was "this is ridiculous".

The talk was intended to show Wollongong students they had the potential to work for big multinational companies, and was a recruitment exercise for Facebook.

The company's engineering manager, Joel Pobar, was on hand to give students an insight into some of the massive numbers that make up Facebook's fast-moving software engineering culture - a "few billion 'likes' and a few hundred million photos uploaded a day".

Mr Pobar told the Mercury it was "not as easy as you might think" to recruit top graduates.

"It's actually quite competitive with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and the million start-ups that are in Silicon Valley at the moment. [Desirable traits for recruits] depend on the role, but usually it's creative people who have drive and intelligence and are able to apply critical thinking to solve problems."

Dean of Engineering and Information Sciences at UOW, Professor Chris Cook, said the event was an exciting opportunity for students and recent graduates.

"The world is changing fast and we want to make sure our graduates are well aware of and can contribute to the science and technologies, which are having such great social and technological impacts."

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