The Power of Not Knowing: Sophia Lin’s Journey to Facebook And How She Moved Past Not Knowing Where Her Future Was Headed
At first glance, one might see Sophia Lin as driven, organized, and efficient. And while each of those words might very well describe her demeanor, she didn’t always feel that way. This was especially true when she had no idea where her future was heading.
This is a feeling that many student-athletes face when thinking about what comes after sports. In college, Sophia says she was constantly worried about her career path. Now as a Project Manager at Facebook, she’s shifted that mentality to be comfortable not knowing whats to come. In this interview, she talks about how she overcame that feeling, moving past imposter syndrome at Faceebook, and what its like to be a project manager.
What was your path to becoming a project manager for Facebook?
Along the theme of exposing myself to uncertainty, I put in my application for a variety of internships that ranged from Public Relations to Communications to Marketing. While I was never certain that this was an area I wanted to work in, throwing myself into these internships did teach me a lot about what I liked, and what I didn't enjoy. It was ultimately this sort of deduction reasoning that pushed me to find a job similar to the one I had now at Facebook.
What aspects of being an athlete do you still see in your day today?
I think that leadership and collaboration are key skills that I see myself using every day as a project manager. Project managing revolves heavily around working with many cross-functional teams, meaning you have to find a way to 1) align everyone’s strengths and make sure everyone is contributing in the most efficient way possible and 2) align each teams vision so that you can work together towards the same goal.
What are some moments after college where you were really worried about the future? How did you overcome this feeling?
I think my first day on the job, at orientation, was one of the really large wake-up moments for me where I was overwhelmed and uncertain whether or not I had taken the right path. Moments of uncertainty and worry typically cause a lot of overthinking and anxiety. My coping mechanisms differ day to day, but they all center around the theme of being more present during the day. Whether that means going to the gym, taking a yoga class, cleaning out my apartment, or just watching some good old Netflix, rooting yourself in the present has really helped me remain appreciative and confident about what I have now, and keeps me less focused on the future.
Why is Facebook the best place for you?
Facebook has been an unbelievable company to start my career. Often times I am still astounded that I work at this company. A few of our core values stress the importance for us to Be Bold and Be Open, and
I really see this come to life in the people I work with every day. Everyone I have worked with has always been very open to talking about their experiences and how they navigated through their careers, and have always encouraged me to continue being curious and exploring the uncertain. I think that this is the type of environment that has really helped me thrive and become surer of who I am outside of what my identity was back in college.
What does a typical day in the life of Sophia Lin look like?
Most days, I get into work around 9-9:30am and begin by going through my inbox and emails to make sure I have addressed any and all questions and evaluate my to-do list for the day. I often spend about 30 minutes browsing news sources to make sure I am aware of what is happening in the industry. My days are typically fraught with meetings, so the beginning of my day is usually when I have the most time to gather my own thoughts and take some time to do any sort of extra learning/reading. Throughout my day I often meet with multiple cross-functional teams that I work closely with on a variety of projects. Being a project manager, the majority of my work consists of managing teams to make sure we are hitting our large milestones, and work on removing roadblocks for our project. It requires me to be able to jump into roles that I may not be entirely comfortable with, but the more projects I’ve worked on, I’ve been able to take a lot of my previous experiences and translate them into skills and tactics for the next project. My day typically wraps up with me heading to the gym for about 1-2 hours a day -- this is still a habit I haven’t been able to shake after college, and provides familiarity and stability in a new and hectic world. I typically get home around 7-8, and make dinner and watch some TV, or do some extra work (depending on the day), then head to bed for the next day.
Is there a certain project or experience at Facebook that sticks out in terms of your development post-Tufts?
While I can’t say a single project or experience has really shifted my development significantly, I would say the abundance or projects and responsibility I have been given has been pivotal in me developing as a project manager. When I first started this role, I honestly didn’t have too much of an idea of what I was getting myself into, or what “project management” really entailed. I was SO nervous for the first project I worked on, and constantly had what we call “imposter syndrome” for months after I started. It wasn’t until I was exposed to more and more teams, all of which were eager to help and collaborate in all sorts of way, that I realized we were all in this together. Similar to how I felt arriving at Tufts on my first day, the support system I’ve gained at this new company is what has truly helped me excel and develop as a young professional at my company.
For athletes who think they want to go into tech, what is one thing you didn't know about the industry that you think would help them understand it better?
The industry moves very quickly, and is constantly working on iterating processes to make them more agile or our company to move quicker. This is really similar to how we constantly iterate on our own trainings week-to-week to make sure we are getting the most every day. We focus heavily on being able to move quickly, and adapt to any problem that is thrown our way. Additionally, I’m not sure if this is very
specific to tech, but the industry really values new insights and thoughts no matter what your experience is. As an industry that is still riding the entrepreneurial spirit, experience isn’t as heavily valued as more traditional industries such as finance and legal. I think this has worked to my advantage where I have been able to run with new ideas and contribute with my personal insights.