‘No small challenge’: How an intern built Facebook’s mobile ad platform



In some companies, being an intern means you don’t get paid for making the coffee for a few months. Apparently that’s very much not the case at Facebook.

In a post on the social network’s engineering blog, Peter Cottle — a graduate student in the mechanical engineering program at UC Berkeley — reveals how he was given the task of building its mobile advertising interface after less than a week’s training.

According to Cottle, the project was “the natural combination of three recent events at Facebook”: the launch of promoted posts, the social network’s mobile push and the roll out of Pages manager for iOS.

“These three separate events combined together to form the perfect opportunity,” he says. “For my internship project, I was tasked with implementing the Promoted Posts feature inside the Pages Manager for iOS application”.

Doing so “was no small challenge,” says Cottle. In part this was because of the demands of the product. It needed to perform well on the user side, be able to grow as demand increased and it had to be able to roll out internationally.

That multi-disciplinary work did, however, have a few benefits:

I received mentorship, collaboration, advice, and feedback at every corner of the company. The platform team helped me design and secure the necessary endpoints to deliver data to clients. The internationalization team collaborated with me to guarantee our interface could perform with different currencies and budget scales, and the payments team helped optimize the UI flow for new advertisers.

Cottle wasn’t the only intern working on the project either:

While I was setting the technical stage for our product launch, another intern, Leo Mancini, was responsible for rethinking and designing the entire Page insights experience on mobile.

The two reportedly worked long hours to get the product ready to roll out. Cottle seems to think the effort was well worth it too:

It felt great to put so much effort into a historic interface and see our work make the ship deadline. I’m really proud of the feature, thankful for the opportunity, and excited to demonstrate Facebook’s dedication towards mobile. Even better, I’ll get to experience Facebook’s culture full time when I return in the Spring.

That’s when he’ll return as a fully fledged Facebook employee, giving him a much better “So what did you do on your Summer holidays?” story than most.

Mancini is also now a full-time employee at the social network.



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