Top tech talent is losing interest in working for Facebook — and the company’s tough year in headlines might be the cause

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Matthew Eisman/Getty

  • Students from universities like Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Yale, and Georgia Tech are losing interest in working at Facebook according to a new study by education software company Piazza.
  • Piazza surveyed students from leading universities for the past few years.
  • In 2018, student interest in working for Facebook had dropped by 4 percent.

Students from universities like Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Yale, and Georgia Tech are losing interest in working at Facebook.

A new study from education software company Piazza surveyed 150,000 students and found that most engineering and computer-science students are more interested in applying for jobs at companies like Google, Amazon, and Tesla over positions at Facebook.

The data from Piazza, which has surveyed university students for the past several years, reflects a shift in the sentiment at leading universities toward the Silicon Valley social media giant: In 2016, Facebook was the fourth most desirable place to work among students. In 2017, it fell by one rank, to fifth place. In 2018, Piazza found that four percent fewer students were interested in working at the company, placing it at the seventh most desirable place to work.

While a 4% decrease in student interest might not sound like much, Piazza’s vice president of client relationships Sean Celli says the metric is noteworthy.

“Essentially, 4% fewer students are saying they no longer want to work at a company that has historically been very hot,” said Celli. “They’re saying there are other companies that are more interesting to them, and that they’re paying attention to the way this company is publicly perceived.”

While Celli said that he couldn’t say whether or not students had lost interest in working for Facebook as a direct result of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, he did say that college students typically pay close attention to the way a company is portrayed by the media.

Piazza Facebook students

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Jenny Cheng/BI Graphics

It seems that Facebook’s tough year in headlines caught the attention of not only its users, but universities across the country as well.

At Stanford, the Cambridge Analytica scandal was discussed in a number of computer science classes, recent Stanford graduate Kirk Amford told Business Insider.

“[It] was discussed briefly or at length … in almost every computer-science class I was enrolled in at the time as an example of how [computer science] can be a harmful force when applied sans an ethical framework,” Amford wrote in an email. “There were also a number of student organizations in the [computer science] department which held panel discussions about the incident. I attended one of them and the perception about Facebook was very negative overall.”

From his conversations with students on Stanford’s campus, Amford said that he couldn’t say definitively whether or not the Cambridge Analytica scandal had made students less interested in applying there.

“I have not directly heard of students not applying solely as a result of the scandal,” wrote Amford. “[B]ut I would be very, very surprised if it didn’t make students rethink applying to work there.”