Student Spotlight: Veena Suthendran

VeenaVeena Suthendran

Position: Data Analytics Intern

Majors: BHP, Management Information Systems

Company: Facebook, San Francisco, California

Topics: Data Analytics, SQL, R Studio, Python

Veena Suthendran is a third-year majoring in Business Honors and Management Information Systems with a certificate in Advanced Statistical Modeling. This summer, she was a Data Analytics Intern at Facebook in San Francisco.

“I worked mainly on the Instagram team, looking at the type of public content Instagram users consume. Amazingly, I got to spend most of my time understanding/researching Instagram influencers, like Ariana Grande and Daquan, who are creating original content for Instagram users. I mainly used SQL to mine data from Facebook’s servers, and R Studio and Python to find patterns, trends, and create visualizations with the data. I learned a lot about data privacy, product ideation, and how to speak to software engineers, designers, and product managers about what the data shows.”

Suthendran found her internship through a combination of hard work and persistence. “I started looking for an internship around October last year, and knew I wanted to experience the tech industry. I went to any information session that any tech companies had on campus. Facebook Austin held an information session at their office, and I heard about the data science position. I applied online and fortunately got an interview. I was flown out to the San Francisco/Menlo Park office where I had 2 rounds.”

Suthendran’s experience not only refined her technical and business skills, but it also helped her learn about corporate culture and personal fulfillment.“After interning at Facebook this summer, I realized that  lifestyle, benefits, and culture really make a difference in my overall happiness and productivity. Facebook’s culture of transparency/community allowed me to have insightful conversations with executives. As an intern, it was amazing to ask questions and hear from all these people I look up to. Also, Facebook promoted a really healthy work life balance. All employees encouraged to go home at a reasonable hour, and performance evaluations aren’t based just on ‘desk time’.”

Suthendran also credits BHP and McCombs’ student organizations with providing an excellent network that helped her pursue her interests. “Honestly, the support I had from my peers who were also BHP/MIS majors really helped me prep for the interview and the internship. The ambiguous/open ended nature of several classes that I had taken – such as Advanced Statistics and Management – taught me how to break down complex problems,” says Suthendran. “At my internship, my team gave me a relatively broad question and asked me to derive analysis, which was very similar to the final project I had done in stats. Also, since a majority of my cohort were math, CS, or statistics majors, my presentation, and communication skills really helped me stand out.”

“Being a part of Texas Convergent also really exposed me to the tech industry, and I was able to meet a lot of students in both the computer science school and McCombs that were interested in emerging technologies and how data was used to shape decision making,” says Suthdendran. She advises other students to get involved and leverage the resources within McCombs to try new things. “I honestly didn’t even think I was interested in the tech industry or data science coming into McCombs. Being open to opportunities that come your way, and trying out a lot of different things, instead of planning out everything is how I fell into Facebook! I think it is important to step outside of your comfort zone and try a different organization or check out an info session that seems interesting.”

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