Eighteen students will walk across a stage in Menlo Park on Wednesday as graduates of Facebook Academy, a six-week summer internship program that aims to give high school students from low-income or underprivileged backgrounds exposure to a career in technology.
The program, which has been around for the last five years, is a partnership between Facebook and an East Palo Alto non-profit "Foundation for College Education." Every year, both organizations select a group of rising juniors from the East Palo Alto, Belle Haven and Redwood City areas.
The students have an opportunity to intern in one of five departments within the company; communications, policy, finance, operations and information technology. Additionally, the students attend a weekly coding class and are given a mentor within the company.
"There is a lot of value in the students interacting with people at the company, particularly young professionals," Juan Salazar, the public policy manager for Facebook said. "The students are able to build their social value, engage in new projects and stay connected. They’re able to see a different facet of what business is like."
Although the program began primarily to expose underprivileged students to careers in technology, the initiative also started in order for Facebook to make sure they made deep connections within the Menlo Park community, according to Salazar.
Since Facebook Academy’s beginning in 2012, nearly 100 students have graduated from the program. With the first graduates of the academy coming out of college next year, Salazar said that the company is excited to hear how Facebook’s program has helped them through college and their other internships.
"Our goal is to grow the program every year," Salazar said. "We see our students’ success moving forward, and our hope is that they come back to work for Facebook and other tech companies."