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Alex Stepanov

Occupation:  Software engineer, Facebook
Education: Wootton HS (Academy of Information Technology), University of Maryland

Alex Stephanov

What does a software engineer do?
Without getting too technical, I support the back end and do design and programming to make sure that Facebook is a safe environment for minors. 

Are the perks working for Facebook really that good?
It really is a great place to work. We have kitchens on every floor with free drinks and snacks and free meals in our cafeteria. I have flexible working hours, and we get all of the newest technology. The perks are great, but I think the biggest plus for me is knowing that the work I do can impact literally billions of people around the world. So for any problem I’m working on, I have to remember how to scale my work. I often have to step back and remind myself that I’m working for a company with a global reach unlike any other. 

How did you land a job with Facebook?
I can trace my career back to the Academy of Information Technology at Wootton High School. Everything that I do day to day in my career started with the strong foundation I got in the Academy. I took three levels of programming, so I developed strong technical skills. But I was also exposed to working on group projects, writing a resume, mock interviews, and internships. I landed an internship with Facebook in 2016 through a college and career fair, and that then turned into a full-time job. I’ve been with the company for about a year.

How did the Academy of Information Technology give you an early edge?
It gave me an edge in college and in my current career. I entered college a year ahead because I already had the fundamentals under my belt. As a computer science major, I didn’t have to struggle as much in my freshman year because I had learned a lot in high school. I learned strong theoretical and technical fundamentals in the Academy that I continue to draw on in my current role. At Facebook, I’m on a team of six, and we collaborate on everything.  I had a lot of practice at that in high school, and for someone like me who is an introvert, that has helped me tremendously in my transition to a career. 

What are your best memories from the Academy?
The teachers.  Mr. Turner, my programming teacher, was very strict and smart, but I learned to value it. At the time, I thought his approaches were hard, but now I can appreciate that he got good results. He is hands down one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I was also lucky to have Ms. Petr, who also taught some programming classes and was the Academy coordinator.  I can honestly say that they helped launch my career!