IrishCompass Recruiter Profile: Kaitlin Sullivan ’10
Kaitlin Sullivan ’10 graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in political science and a minor in philosophy, politics, and economics. She is currently a content policy manager at Facebook.
Can you provide a brief overview of your background at Notre Dame and how that led you to your current role?
I graduated from Notre Dame in 2010 with a B.A. in political science and a minor in philosophy, politics, and economics and loved that coursework. After graduation, I did the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for two years, working at a rape crisis center in San Jose, California. In undergrad, I always knew I wanted to do post-grad service; I was very involved in the Gender Relations Center at Notre Dame, doing similar work to what I did in those two years.
I then went to George Washington University for a master’s in public policy as a shift from direct service to macro change. As a grad student, I was recruited to join a project on misogyny online at Facebook; they saw my work with the rape crisis center, and I had also done my research on tech policy before entering grad school. This project then allowed me to join the content policy team full-time once I graduated, and this is the team I am on now. Our team writes the rules about what is allowed and what is not allowed on Facebook and our other apps. I find myself using a lot of skills I used in undergrad, such as strong writing and critical thinking skills, but I also use a lot of material from the PPE minor in my job. For example, what do justice and fairness look like?
What are some distinguishing factors of ND alums?
They have strong critical thinking and writing skills. Notre Dame’s core curriculum exposes us to a breadth of subjects. The ethos of a strong mind and spirit allows the ND family to grow as people.
What are the top three skills Facebook looks for in applicants?
First, learning. Tech is a constantly evolving industry. The most important skill is knowing how to learn quickly. In one of my philosophy classes at Notre Dame, the professor tested us on the prompt: “What is the most important thing to learn,” and the answer was, “To learn how to learn.” I have found that very true in what makes someone successful in a company like Facebook. Second, on the non-tech side, critical thinking. You need to be able to break up a big problem into pieces and understand the ins and outs and pros and cons. Third, concise writing. I had professors at ND who gave page maximums and no minimums to emphasize clear writing.
What is the value of hiring fellow ND alumni?
Knowing you are getting strong applicants and people who bring their whole selves to work. They are authentic. You want to work with good people, and that is often Notre Dame people.
How has your experience been recruiting fellow ND alumni? When you have posted a role on IrishCompass, were any applications received or hires made?
I have recruited and hired two fellow Domers for my team. I definitely posted them on IrishCompass.
What does it take to be successful in this industry?
We are so early in the life cycle of so much technology. We still do not know what it is going to look like — how technology will shape society. I still remember waiting to sign up for my “.edu” Notre Dame email address. If you told me as an undergrad that I would be writing policy for Facebook, I would have been confused. You need to be adaptable, willing to learn, and willing to engage with new issues that do not have solutions yet.
Do you have advice, especially for young alumni who are entering a post-pandemic economy?
My class graduated into the post-economic-crash economy. Definitely reach out to alums. I do not think I have had an alum say they did not want to meet with me — everyone is very willing to help. Do your homework, know what you want from each meeting, and make it intentional. Use the network. Be open to where you might land. In addition, there are a lot of jobs that people may not know about. There are interesting companies and interesting problems to solve. Do not get too hung up on what the job title is.