Student Spotlight: Andres Arbelaez (Q28)
By: Brian Hornak (Q28)
One of QUEST’s newest members, Andres Arbelaez is a robust and entrepreneurial go-getter who wants to bring people together. I recently had the opportunity to ask Andres some questions about his background, aspirations, and his thoughts on QUEST.
1) Could you provide us with a background on yourself?
I started my studies at UMD as a bioengineering major, but switched to computer science last semester. I am interested in mobile app development and how it relates to social-cultural patterns, and I’m currently working on a social media app with another Q28 student, Didac Hormiga, and his friend Zach Joyner. The app is called Pinr, and we are hoping to launch it at the end of winter break. Apart from programming, I am really into rock climbing, and I was part of the Club Rock Climbing team last semester.
2) I know you had an internship with Facebook this past summer. Could you tell me a little bit about what you did there, and how you enjoyed it?
My internship with Facebook this past summer was called FBU (Facebook University) for Engineers, and it focused on iOS development. During the first three weeks, we were taught the Swift programming language by an external contractor. During the last five weeks of the internship, two other interns and I designed and created our own iOS app called Capsule. We were managed by an iOS Engineer at Facebook. I had an amazing time during my internship, not only because I learned so much, but also because I was exposed to the incredible Silicon Valley environment, and I made great connections in Menlo Park, California.
3) Wow, it sounds like you had a great experience with Facebook. Do you plan to go back next summer?
Yes, I do intend to go back next summer! At the end of my internship in August, I received a return offer to come back next summer. Last month, I signed the offer letter, so I will be going back to Facebook HQ in Menlo Park for a 12-week software engineering internship, where I will work to improve an actual Facebook product. Right now, I am hoping to be placed on the Facebook Messenger or News Feed team.
4) Do you feel that your classes/time at UMD (specifically the CS-related courses) contributed to either finding the internship with Facebook and/or succeeding in the position?
My CS classes definitely gave me a good foundation to succeed in the internship. The tight-knit computer science community here at UMD also allowed me to talk to other Facebook interns and get some good feedback about how to succeed (shoutout to Elton Tian). However, I think that the most important thing for me was the learning outside of the classroom. A lot of CS majors generally have the same coursework, and as such, it’s really important to set yourself apart. I believe that self-teaching is one of the best ways to do that. I actually recently wrote an article for LinkedIn that further discusses this notion.
5) Awesome, that’s really inspiring. As a final question, how has this experience influenced what you want to do later in life?
My internship with Facebook definitely influenced my career decisions, as it reaffirmed my desire to work in the technology sector. Ultimately, I want to graduate with a degree in computer science, but I don’t want to be a software engineer for my career. With the technical background of CS, I want to go into product management, which basically consists of handling an interdisciplinary team of software engineers, designers, marketers and more to roll out a product. I want to be involved in projects that provide some sort of social value, like improving the way that people connect. The world is more global today thanks to social media, but a lot needs to be done in order to improve the quality and authenticity of these connections. I also want to be able to advocate for diversity in the realm of technology.