Eve did it this is correct. She attended the Bronx High School of Science in New York and then the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she studied mathematics and computer science with a specialization in artificial intelligence. After her freshman year, she landed a coveted summer internship at Facebook and was invited back to Menlo Park the following summer—traditionally a good sign that a student will later be offered a full-time job.
But in the summer of 2022, there were warning signs that Xie’s future might be veering off course. Rumors swirled within the company that Meta, as it is now known, might freeze hiring. Xie and her fellow interns weren’t worried, believing that the established pipeline through which the company selected students from elite colleges was permanent.
The interns were wrong. In an early-morning email last August, Xie and the rest of her cohort of high-achieving employees were among the first to be hit by a wave of hiring freezes and layoffs in the tech sector that will shed hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming months. Meta regrettably informed them, the email said, that unlike in previous years, it will not be offering successful interns a guaranteed return to full-time employment before they return to school.
That fall, when Meta announced 11,000 layoffs, the company didn’t cut its high-achieving interns. “They fired everyone who just started, including those who got the highest ratings during their internships,” Xie says. That included MIT graduates ahead of her on the conveyor belt that has regularly attracted new talent to the industry over the past decade.
In recent months, many former interns and recent graduates have found themselves among the thousands of people laid off at major tech companies. This has prompted many future graduates like Xie, who once thought they would land an easy job at a tech company, to rethink the value of those companies, their perspectives, and in some cases, what they want out of their careers.
Meta spokeswoman Andrea Beasley did not respond to WIRED’s questions about the internship program, instead pointing to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s blog post about the layoffs, which said the company had over-expanded during the pandemic.
Amazon, which hired about 18,000 interns in 2022, is considering cutting the number of interns by more than half, according to New York Times the report Amazon spokesman Brad Glasser tells WIRED that the company is “excited” to welcome interns in 2023, but is still finalizing its plans. Google, which laid off 12,000 people in January, will hire interns next year but has slowed hiring and won’t bring in as many people as in previous years, according to Google’s director of intern programs, Andrea Florence.
Claire Ralph, director of career development at Caltech, where about 40 percent of graduates go on to work in tech fields, counseled students concerned about the recent cuts. “California students are high achievers, so they often worry. Certainly, this news is at the center of their anxiety right now,” says Ralph, who also lectures in computer science.