Journey Leads to Facebook

She crossed the globe for Northeastern-Seattle. She stayed for Facebook.

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Qifei “Rose” Lu, MS Information Systems, 2018, was leading her guests on a tour of Facebook. The cafeteria and its neighboring amphitheater. The snack stand. The espresso bar. The common work stations, the outdoor balconies overlooking Lake Union, the foosball and ping-pong tables of the social media giant’s headquarters.

Facebook is at the center of a global privacy crisis. For Rose, however, the controversies of data-sharing and election-rigging have been more than offset by the feelings of empowerment she experiences each day at work. After graduating from Northeastern-Seattle last year, Facebook has provided her with a sense of home.

For most of her upbringing in Shanghai, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in management information systems, Rose wasn’t sure what she wanted to be or even where she wanted to go. When she settled on pursuing a master’s in information systems at Northeastern-Seattle, her parents didn’t want to see their only child move so far away.

Photos by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

“Everyone wants a comfortable thing,” she said. “But when you step out of your comfortable zone, you will find a new world. I think it’s much easier for young people to do that. Instead of after 10 years, if I chose to go to a new place and do that, it would be more difficult I think.”

She was drawn to Northeastern-Seattle in 2016 in no small part because so many tech giants are based around the campus. Within a year, she was interning at Amazon.

In his new book, The Formula, Northeastern network scientist Albert-László Barabási refers repeatedly to natural networkers who recognize how to increase their value socially. Rose appears to be one of those engagers, infusing groups with her energy while devoting herself to end goals.

Photos by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

In her first co-op, she was assigned to an anti-fraud project on behalf of Amazon Web Services. The work was a success, and she understands that it is being used by Amazon to this day. But she did not arrive at it easily. There were many late nights spent adding to the coding education she had accrued at Northeastern.

Photos by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

That experience prepared her for her subsequent co-op with Facebook.

At the end of her Facebook co-op, it was agreed that she would return to the company in the full-time role that she occupies now—with the same group. She and her colleagues are developing a platform to buy and sell cars on Facebook.

Her husband, to whom she was married in 2017, is working for Amazon in Seattle. The recent years of her life have been an upward curve of exploration, of herself, of the world—all of it experienced in the context of small groups. Along the way, she has remained in touch with her professors at Northeastern.

“We loved it at Northeastern,” Rose said on behalf of her classmates. “In my class, we only had 22 students. The professor knew the name for every student. It is the same kind of culture here.”

When faced with difficult questions, she picks up her laptop and wanders the open landscape of Facebook in search of the answers. Someday down the road, Rose may seek to become a project manager. For the time being, she remains fascinated by the puzzles of coding in this place that feels like home. It is all so very new.

by Ian Thomsen, News @ Northeastern

Related Departments:Multidisciplinary Masters (IT Areas)