Michael Miner spent his summer riding a bicycle through Silicon Valley, California — with mountains and the San Francisco Bay on the horizon — peddling to get experience in research science at Facebook.
Mr. Miner, a 2015 SJC Brooklyn graduate now in a Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin, was hand-picked by the social media giant for its prestigious internship, shortly after a paper he penned won first place in the Midwest Sociological Society’s graduate student paper competition.
Perhaps the biggest irony of it all: Mr. Miner doesn’t even have his own Facebook account.
“I don’t have a Facebook account — and I told them that — and they said, ‘it’s fine, it’s fine,’” Mr. Miner recalled with a laugh.
Throughout the 12-week internship, Mr. Miner worked as a research scientist, focusing on Instagram, a photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook. Mr. Miner said it was an interesting time to be researching the social media platform, explaining that this summer Facebook took a hard look at the transparency of its advertisements.
At Facebook, Mr. Miner worked on four research projects concerning perceptions of trust and transparency.
“I enjoyed my time there,” said Mr. Miner, who earned a sociology and psychology degree at St. Joseph’s.
While Mr. Miner worked long days — reaching as many as 12 hours in a single shift — he also had a lot of autonomy in designing his schedule and the chance to take advantage of Facebook’s myriad of employee perks.
“Some aspects of it feels like Disneyland,” Mr. Miner said. “At Facebook, they just take care of all your personal needs.”
Having long prided himself as a morning person, Mr. Miner was comfortable riding a bicycle, loaned to him by Facebook, each day about 7:30 a.m. from his apartment to the Facebook campus, five miles away. There, he would eat breakfast — all three meals a day are on Facebook’s dime — before starting work.
The company’s office is an open space, so Mr. Miner preferred getting to work early in the day, when it’s quiet. And nearly every employee works remotely on Wednesdays, participating in virtual “webcam meets” when meetings are necessary.
Mr. Miner also participated in question-and-answer sessions with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.
While acclimating to the world of Facebook initially took a bit of adjustment, Mr. Miner said his SJC Brooklyn education prepared him well. Mr. Miner explained that as a double major in psychology and sociology at the College, he had to write two separate thesis papers in his senior year. It seemed like a daunting task at the time, but in hindsight Mr. Miner said it played a large role in prepping him for the intensity of the curriculum in his current Ph.D. program.
Raymond D’Angelo, Ph.D., chair of the sociology department at SJC, said it brought him great satisfaction to see Mr. Miner grow in his career and take on an internship at Facebook.
“The department is proud of Michael and his success in the sociology doctoral program at Wisconsin,” he said of Mr. Miner, who accepted a second internship at Facebook for next year. “The prestigious Facebook Summer Internship adds to his accomplishments and shows that his talents are recognized by the leader of social media.”