Mark Zuckerberg's advice for college kids is to surround yourself with people you would want to work for. This simple approach guides his hiring choices at Meta.

Mark Zuckerberg's advice for college kids is to surround yourself with people you would want to work for. This simple approach guides his hiring choices at Meta.
Mark Zuckerberg was invited back to Harvard in 2017, to deliver a commencement speech.Paul Marotta / Contributor via Getty
  • Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg offered some practical advice to college kids.
  • Surround yourself with people who "you'd want to work for," he told the Lex Fridman podcast.

Think long and hard about who you spend time with at college, you're career could depend on it, according to Meta founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

In February Zuckerberg spoke to podcaster and MIT computer scientist Lex Fridman. At the end of the near-two hour interview, he was asked for his advice on how young people can live a life they can be proud of, and how to build something that can have a big positive impact on the world.

He spoke about his children's nighttime routine but his answer also contained some practical advice to anyone graduating college.

"I'm always very focused on people, and I think the most important decision you're probably going to make if you're in college is who you surround yourself with," Zuckerberg said. "Because you become like people you surround yourself with," he added.

When you're trying to figure out your circle or you're evaluating different job opportunities, ask yourself 'who are the people who, in an alternate universe, you'd want to work for, even if they're just going to be peers in what you're doing, Zuckerberg said.


This could be because you think you'll learn a lot from them, their values align with yours or you think they'll push you, he said — adding that it's a similar answer if you're choosing a partner or friends.

"People are too, in general, objective-focused and maybe not focused enough on the connections and the people who they're basically building relationships with," Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg only employs people he would want to work for

Zuckerberg launched Facebook with fellow Harvard students Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, and Chris Hughes in 2004.

The group has since split but Facebook, now Meta, is worth more than $500 billion. Its suite of apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, are used by billions of users every day.

It's been dogged by controversies, however, including over how it handles data, misinformation and more recently, its inability to moderate hate speech.


Zuckerberg didn't name anyone personally in his answer but said he applies his college-friend logic when hiring at Meta.

"I will only hire someone to work for me if I could see myself working for them," Zuckerberg said. "In an alternate universe, if it was their company and I was looking to go work somewhere, would I be happy to work for them?"

Zuckerberg said it's proved to be a "useful heuristic" to help balance the pressure that comes when building a business and the desire to get things done quickly.

"Everyone always says don't compromise on quality but there's this question of 'How do you know if somebody is good enough?" Zuckerberg said. "My answer is: I would want somebody to be on my team if I would want to work for them," he said.