Systems engineer test drives Facebook Connectivity solutions

“I work with a company where every day they help connect people.”

Before acing his contract job interview for Facebook, T. Ashok Kumar researched the latest technologies, networked at Meetups and local tech events, and practiced interviewing.

“I was able to crack the interview, which gives me great satisfaction for all of my efforts,” says the UCSC Silicon Valley Extension Linux Programming and Administration program graduate.

Ashok is a system engineer at Facebook Connectivity working with a team that is providing affordable access to the internet across the globe.

A bigger vision of connectivity

“We may have 4G and high speed internet, but many places still can’t access the internet.” he says.

Facebook envisions different solutions to fit the different needs of the  community and Kumar test drives them and gets user experience feedback.

“In my home there are hundreds of Wi-Fi spots, but in Fresno there are not so many,” he says. “We also help people in other places like Kenya, Tanzania, and India.”

Like most UCSC Extension students, Ashok already had an academic degree prior to signing up for a certificate program. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from an Indian university and worked for Cisco India for four years before marrying and moving to the U.S. in 2014.

He studied a lot. In addition to the Extension Linux program, he took courses in Python, VMware, storage, and information technology. He secured a six-month internship at Lumentum Holdings, a telecommunications equipment company in Milpitas, where he helped them automate solutions.

Networking Silicon Valley-Style

One of the benefits of living in Silicon Valley are the numerous free resources to learn about tech, Ashok says. He went to local coding boot camps and hackathons at the public library. He attended several Meetups a week sometimes so he could learn more about the market for new technologies and network with more people.

“I read about tech in the news and contacted people through LinkedIn,” he says. “You can learn what is current, what kinds of things they’re using, and what’s changing.” He found that Silicon Valley professionals were willing to help someone who is serious about learning. “If you go and say, ‘I want to learn more about this subject,’ they are happy to help you.”

While still in the Extension program, he participated in about a half dozen interviews before landing his current one-year Optional Practical Training (OPT) position at Facebook. Each of those early “mock interviews” helped him prepare for the next one.

When he looks back on how hard it was to leave his job in India, he can see the future looks bright.

“I work with a company where every day they help connect people,” Kumar says. “I feel like I’m one of those people who are creating the technology that’s being used all over the world and that I’m part of the journey.”

Learn more

You can learn more about the Linux Programming and Administration certificate program by visiting our main website or contact us directly: or (408) 861-3860.

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