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Summer In the Real Magic Kingdom

Ariana Harvey, a 2018 graduate of SMHS, is living out her academic and culinary dreams as an intern at Facebook.

The interior of the two-story building seems to stretch as far as the proverbial eye can see and much more resembles a bustling Casablanca marketplace than the headquarters of one of the world’s largest, most influential corporations. All manner of peoples stride in unison, many appearing to be headed for an important meeting (because they are) while others seem to be out for a Saturday stroll (because they are).

This being Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, some are doing both, it soon seems apparent, as the line between recreation and commerce is not merely blurred, it’s are indistinguishable.

Welcome to the work environment of the 21st century, where management seems to serve at the pleasure of the rank-and-file.

A hair salon.

A string of “quiet rooms.”

A transportation and bike rental station.

A dry cleaner.

The occasional work station.

And food.

If there is one defining aspect of Facebook, it’s the food. Full-service restaurants, countless ice cream and frozen yogurt stands, endless rows of snacks and beverages and what our hostess refers to as “micro-kitchens.”

Every manner of cultural food and drink is available free of charge. Yes, free of charge, for employee and guest alike. There isn’t even a register where your selection is memorialized. It’s “grab-and-go” in its purest form. I felt like a thief when i was encouraged to help myself to an energy bar.

Gliding happily and effortlessly through this marketplace of activity is Ariana Harvey, a 2018 graduate of San Marino High School who has the distinct privilege of spending eight weeks this summer reaping the spoils of one of the most successful enterprises in the history of the planet.

San Marino High School graduate Ariana Harvey, far right, is enjoying sharpening her skills this summer as a Facebook University Engineer in Menlo Park. Photo contributed by Ariana Harvey

San Marino High School’s 2018 Senior Awards Assembly could have been subtitled “The Ariana Harvey Show,” as the then-soon-to-be-graduate was acknowledged for being a Promethean and California Scholarship Federation Life Sealbearer. She also received the Yun-Chung W. Chang Award for Excellence in Science, a National AP Scholar Award, the Andy and Avery Barth Scholarship for Excellence in Visual & Performing Arts, the Chinese Club of San Marino Scholarship for Excellence in Community Service and she was also singled out for Outstanding Achievement in Math.

She also finished in 1st place at the Rotary Club of San Marino’s Art competition and topped San Marino High School’s 50th Annual Art sweepstakes. Ariana is also nominated to receive a Rotary Global Grant scholarship and served as a captain on the Lady Titan tennis team, where she was a four-year member of the varsity squad.

But despite that impressive dossier, her new title as Facebook University Engineer (software engineering intern) might pack the most punch with her contemporaries. A rising sophomore and Computer Science major in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering, Ariana technically works (yes, works) for Instagram–which is owned by Facebook–where she is developing an application that would be suitable for use on an Android device.

She sent in her application for the internship just a day before the December 2018 deadline, was interviewed in early February and later that month was among the 3% who are selected for the internship program.

And it’s easy to see why Facebook’s inbox is flooded with hopefuls. Along with the benefits listed above, Ariana is also eligible to receive health insurance, with on-site doctors, dentists and mental health specialists; free corporate housing, fully furnished with kitchen items, linens, television, internet, electric, gas, water, and free cleaning service; on-site pick-up and delivery for laundry, dry-cleaning, shoe repair and film development; a stipend for public transportation and bike purchase or rental; use of a company-furnished MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, IBM ThinkPad and Apple iPhone for Android device; access to company-wide social events, including barbecues, a wide selection of day trips every weekend and tickets to concerts and sporting events; and participation in Facebook clubs, which include ultimate frisbee, soccer, running and game nights.

If all that isn’t attractive enough, there is also a housing stipend.

And a paycheck.

Trust me, you don’t what to know how much the “interns” are paid.

“Facebook is known for paying interns the most compared to other big tech companies,” Ariana says with an understandable smile.

But the self-described foodie seems most impressed by the culinary offerings. Her biography in the program for the Yun-Chung W. Chang Award for Excellence in Science mentions her affection for ice cream far before her academic accomplishments.

That, and the casual atmosphere. Ariana mentioned that she typically eschews her contemporary “desk” and often often totes her laptop to one of the many outdoor recreation areas (replete with yoga and tai-chi offerings) where she completes her tasks while drifting in a hemp swing.

“In broad terms, it’s Disneyland for engineers,” Ariana said of her work environment, “and those who enjoy top-quality free food.”

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