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John Edstrom ('10, '11)

Alumnus John Edstrom

John Edstrom
Engineering Manager at Instagram
Class of  ’10, ’11

I'm an engineering manager at Instagram, currently based in Tokyo. I've held a variety of roles in my eight years at Instagram - from fighting spammers and working on the Explore page, to building tools for businesses. At Virginia Tech, I did the five year B.S./M.S. in computer science, graduating in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and did research with Dr. Eli Tilevich. I was involved with several student groups, including the Association for Computing Machinery university chapter, Programming Team, and CS Community Service (CS-Squared). I was also a web developer for the Collegiate Times, where I unfortunately covered the events of April 16, 2007, in real-time.

How did the department equip you for the ‘real world’...

In my freshman year I joined the Programming Team and competed in annual competitions with other schools in the region. I loved the challenge of solving the problem sets, and discovered I learned something new every time. It was great practice in taking the skills I learned in class (algorithms, data structures, etc.) and applying them in a practical way. It also ended up being great practice for all my interviews in senior year. For any students reading this, I'd highly recommend getting involved.

Being a Virginia Tech alumnus means...

Finding Hokies wherever you go. Seemingly everywhere I travel, I find someone wearing Virginia Tech gear. And they're always eager to reminisce about their time in Blacksburg. Even all the way out here in Tokyo, I recently spotted a Hokie in a crowd because of his maroon and orange sweatshirt.

My fondest memory from my time in the department is...

Not just one memory, but probably all of the tech talks I attended. I was involved with the ACM chapter and got to organize dozens of tech talks in my time there. We invited speakers from all over. It ranged from small startups in Blacksburg to large multinational companies; from kernel developers to financial tech companies. Through all of them, I loved learning something new and seeing how my degree might apply in the real world. All the free pizza was nice, too.

I took the move to Tokyo because…

My wife and I have always loved to travel. We love seeing new places and experiencing different cultures. When this opportunity came up at work to live abroad for a couple years, we couldn't turn it down. It's been so much fun to explore Tokyo and the rest of Japan. My wife and I had our first child here, so I know we'll have a connection to Japan for the rest of our lives.

My favorite thing about working at Instagram is...

The people. In my eight years here, I've had a chance to work with incredibly smart, talented individuals on all my teams. I've had managers and peers go out of their way to support me and find opportunities for me to do what I do best. I've been inspired to keep learning and growing as I've taken on new roles within the company.