Dan Lindholm was a Product Specialist at Facebook when we interviewed him in 2013. He has since moved on to work at Instagram (owned by Facebook). He founded a startup in middle school and has been working in tech ever since. We’re excited to share Dan’s insight with you today:
Radha: Hi Dan – Great accomplishment! What motivated you to found a start-up when you were only in Junior High? Also, what advice do you have for someone who would like to develop their own business venture one day? Thanks!
Dan: Ya know, the story I’ve always told myself and others in recent years is that I was looking for means to make money in order to afford college. I’ve questioned that story more recently as I was only in 7th grade when I started working on a bunch of projects to make money. 7th graders are often not thinking that far ahead. I think I actually found some highly profitable means for making money, loved how well I was doing at it, and continued iterating on it. It’s fairly funny how I got started. I can explain that later but let me get to some other questions.
Angelica Valentine: Hi Dan, there are so many tech companies that are doing really innovative things. How did you choose to work at Facebook? What did you see in Facebook that you didn’t see anywhere else?
Dan: Sounds cliche, but the people are ultimately what sold me on Facebook. Particularly the people on my current team (Product Operations). I have never had a more enjoyable interview experience than I did with Facebook. To be honest, I was not overly excited when I went into interviewing at Facebook (if you can’t show genuine enthusiasm when interviewing, it can easily kill you). I had also come from a startup and felt such companies were much more nimble than something like an eight-year-old company with thousands of employees. I wanted to be part of a fast-paced environment like that, influence change on a daily basis. I found this is still very possible here. Facebook moves very quickly relative to other companies of its size. Also, no startup comes close to touching a billion users. At Facebook, I’m part of daily changes that we’re pushing out to a diverse group of over a billion users across the world. Pretty special and huge opportunity for impact across the world.
In summary, the biggest draws for me at Facebook are (1) the extraordinarily brilliant and talented people I work around. The pace I’m learning things at because of the people I’m around is astounding. I find everyone to be down to earth and just genuinely good people. I count a lot of my coworkers as my best friends. And then (2) the ability to positively impact a billion users. I can’t think of another place where you have such an opportunity.
Andre Tacuyan: Hey Dan, what would be the ideal candidate Facebook is looking for in interns and how can a student stand out above the crowd?
Dan: It’s tough for me to answer this questions specifically with regards to interns since most of our interns are programmers, and I’m pretty far removed from that recruiting and interviewing process. What’s your background? My general advice would be to show your enthusiasm and passion for the company and our mission. Key to any interview. Understand the competitive landscape. Prepare for the interview. If you’re a coder, obviously expect to be asked to solve programming problems. If Facebook visits your campus, get to know the recruiters or reps there. Being able to connect a face to your name, knowing you on a personal level, no matter how limited, can help take you further in any interview process or just help get your foot in the door.
Sonya Sharififard: What does a typical day on the job consist of?
Dan: Haha! I’m very happy to say there is no such thing as a typical day. My job is to represent the voice of the user. This is manifested across diverse projects and working in partnership with a number of teams (eng, research, operations, marketing) – love how cross-functional our role is here. We’re constantly taking on new projects. My role is also closely tied to our product launch processes so one day I might be preparing pipelines for gathering data on quality and sentiment prior to a launch, the next day I’m monitoring that feedback, and then days later I’m working with design, product management and eng on improving the product based on user signal.
Radha Jhatakia: Hi Dan, what motivated you to found a start-up when you were only in Junior High? Also, what advice do you have for someone who would like to develop their own business venture one day?
Dan: Initiative and drive are biggest IMO. Don’t waste time thinking about ideas, spinning your wheels, saying tomorrow you’ll get to building your venture. Just do it. There’s no better time than now.