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NextGen Collective: From Intern to Program Manager: Meet Rebecca Reza of Meta

NextGen Collective: From Intern to Program Manager: Meet Rebecca Reza of Meta

Rebecca Reza was a mechanical engineering student at Yale when she learned about a very interesting internship opportunity at the tech giant.

Photo credit: Stephanie Campos
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What is your background?

I’m 100% Mexican, and I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. My parents are from a small border town on the tip of Texas, San Benito, so I spent a lot of time throughout my childhood in the Rio Grande Valley and taking trips to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico.

What is your role today and what are your major responsibilities? 

In December 2021 I moved into a project manager role within our Product Data Operations team. In this role, I support product teams by working with third-party vendor teams to collect the data needed to build and improve products. Key responsibilities include launching these data labeling programs, improving our data quality, and finding cost-saving opportunities.

You interned at Meta twice before joining them full time. What experience did you gain during these internships?

Both summers I joined the Global Business Group’s Sales team in Austin, TX. My first summer, I worked on the account management side, which focuses on working with businesses directly on their advertising strategy, under our publishing team. That summer I analyzed revenue from publishing advertisers to improve our 2018 support model. My second summer, I worked on the partner management side, which supports the agencies that run ads for businesses, as part of an intern pod. We worked as a group to develop our marketing team’s 2019 event calendar. While the specific work didn’t exactly match what I’d be doing when joining full-time since I wasn’t working with the businesses and agencies myself, this was a great opportunity both to familiarize myself with our internal tools, which made my start at Meta as a full-time employee more seamless, and to build relationships with the people that I’d be working with in the future.  

You are a mechanical engineer by training but today you’re doing something very different. Tell us about that journey.

My older brother also has a mechanical engineering degree, so when I got to college, I thought, “I’m good at math. I’m good at science. This is what seems right.” I did (and still do) love a lot of aspects of mechanical engineering, but I knew early on (though already deep into completing my degree) that I didn’t want to work full-time in the industry. Instead, it satisfied my passion for building things.

A friend brought to my attention Meta’s university program (then known as Facebook University), which offered internships for freshman and sophomores. Despite not having the traditional sales and marketing background, I was able to highlight how the skills from mechanical engineering could translate into the account management role, and I was lucky enough to land the job!

I never intended Sales to be my forever role, but I knew it offered me two key opportunities – 1. access to an incredible company that would foster my career, and 2. the time to develop skills that would be beneficial in any role – which is why I decided to return after graduation.

What else motivated you to work full time at Meta after college?

One big draw is the people. I genuinely love every single person that I’ve worked with here, and many have offered significant support throughout my career. I joined in a “new grad pod,” meaning my whole team was made up of recent college graduates, which was a unique opportunity for all of us to experience similar successes and challenges alongside each other as well as grow our careers together. This whole team remains in my life today, and my manager has continued to be a mentor despite my changing organizations and teams.

How has Meta supported you in your career journey? 

Career growth is something I’ve been very intentional about throughout my time at Meta. I’ve been honest with my managers about my goals, and they’ve been supportive in helping me achieve those goals. One great thing about Meta is the literal hundreds of teams available and thousands of people willing to chat about their work. My first manager challenged me to meet with new teams, before I was ready to leave sales, to identify what roles might be a good fit once I was ready to move to a new team. This set me up for success, as I was able to secure my next role within two months of officially starting my job search.

What activities are you involved in within Meta?

I’ve been involved in the company Latino ERG, but my main activity at Meta was being co-lead of the Early Career Growth Circle in Austin, which focuses on bringing new grads and people early in their career together for personal and professional development. I co-led this team for two years up until I moved to remote work.

In pre-COVID days, I also played with our club softball team. I used to play softball in high school, and this was a great way to meet new people in a casual environment.

What career advice do you have for your Latino peers?

Your career is all about the story you tell and finding synergies and parallels between what you do and what you can do. My journey from mechanical engineering to sales to project management has been a very indirect route, but there are common themes, such as creative problem solving. There are skills that are useful in every job, and as long as you can relate your experience to your future responsibilities, you can make career changes that may not seem obvious, especially early in your career.

Another piece of advice is to find people who will champion you – lean on friends and people who will be honest with you, coach you, and build your self-confidence. One of my teammates from my new grad pod conducted mock interviews with me as I was searching for a new role, and I credit him for my preparedness and confidence going into interviews.

Lastly, just shoot your shot. My career would be totally different if I hadn’t taken a chance on a role that didn’t seem like the obvious choice for my experience thus far. This is advice I still struggle to follow, but I do think it’s important to remember when navigating your career.

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