Gotta like it: Graphic design major interns with Facebook

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Rowan Intern standing in front of a giant Like button

Visiting his grandmother at work is one of sophomore Christian Dalonzo’s earliest memories of connecting with the idea of a computer. His interest and experience continued to grow in the years since, to the point where he was recruited for an internship with one of the biggest brands in our technological age: Facebook.

Dalonzo, a graphic design major in the Department of Art, spent 12 weeks this summer in California as part of a team for the ubiquitous social media site’s mobile Messenger application.

“I was so excited just to get this opportunity,” Dalonzo said.

On Friday, May 9, the day after his last exam of the spring semester at Rowan, he was on a plane and started work on Monday.

“Being able to be around so many people who are interested in the same things was pretty cool,” he said. “But one of the biggest learning curves was getting used to working with such a big team.”

Valuable experience

It was, indeed, a valuable educational experience for a young designer. Accustomed to working with one or two collaborators, Dalonzo’s Facebook gig required him to work in a group of 15-20 people. Working to develop new features for the reinvented Messenger app also taught him the different level of effort and detail and care that goes into designing something that has 200 million users.

That’s a far cry from his previous endeavors. But the perks of a large, employee-friendly workplace help: free food, lounges, scooters, and more, he noted.

The truth is the chance to work at Facebook is just the latest milestone in a line of achievements for a young man who started “creating things” at a very early age, such as designing menus for his family’s Thanksgiving dinner when he was seven.

Developing apps

An interest in computers and web design led the Sewell teenager to attend Gloucester County Institute of Technology. It was during his time there that the then-high school junior connected with another young software engineer online and together they created an iPhone app (Stream) for a small social network company called App.net (a favorite of the tech community, Dalonzo said).

“I’d always played around with the idea of apps,” he noted. “But this was the first one to actually go somewhere.”

Later, the launch of the app got some publicity and a designer who worked at Facebook posted about it on Twitter. Soon, a recruiter from Facebook was calling about an internship. Luckily, the busy soon-to-be-graduating high school senior was able to put off the opportunity until after his freshman year at Rowan this summer.

So he started college, progressed through his first year, and continued to create – both in and out of the classroom. A second app Dalonzo worked on, Flamingo (a Mac app that lets users chat with Facebook/Google friends), added to Facebook’s interest and led to the decision to place him on the Messenger team.

Now home after working on such a grand scale, Dalonzo is incredibly grateful but also looking ahead to what he learns next, whether at Rowan or elsewhere. He is refreshingly determined about his goals, too.

“I think this experience has motivated me to continue in the direction I’ve been going,” he said.

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