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Facebook's Zuckerberg visits old stomping grounds at Harvard

John D. Sutter, CNN
Harvard students gather around Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg Monday afternoon.
Harvard students gather around Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg Monday afternoon.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard University in 2004
  • The Facebook CEO visited the campus on Monday
  • He returns to recruit engineering students for internships
  • It is his first official visit since 2004, The Harvard Crimson says

(CNN) -- Mark Zuckerberg went back to Harvard on Monday on a recruiting trip, his first visit since he dropped out of the prestigious university to found social-media giant Facebook.

Clad in his trademark hoodie and T-shirt, Zuckerberg told reporters, "This is a great time to come."

"There's a lot of really smart people here, and a lot of them are making decisions on where they are going to work when they graduate in the next couple of weeks," he said.

The university posted a slickly edited video on YouTube of Zuckerberg's outdoor remarks.

Zuckerberg quit Harvard and moved to California to found Facebook in 2004. The university's student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, says he was back on campus for the first time since he left to recruit students for internships at Facebook.

Facebook is "just getting started," Zuckerberg said, according to The Crimson.

"The original goals for the company are to make it so that the whole world can be more open and connected. And you know the last five years have really just been about helping people get signed up and stay connected with their friends," he said, The Crimson reported. "But I think the next five or 10 years are going to be about all of these different products and industries that can be rethought."

Students, not surprisingly, sounded thrilled about the visit.

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"If you've seen the movie 'Social Network,' you know that when Zuckerberg attended a talk by Bill Gates it was a pivotal moment,'' Harvard senior Michael Wong told The Boston Globe. "This could be another iteration of that. The next Mark Zuckerberg could be in the audience.''

Harvard students applied for the Facebook internships within seconds of their being posted online, a university official told the Crimson.

Harvard, for its part, was happy to welcome back the billionaire dropout.

"We're very happy to have him here. We've rolled out the red carpet," Tania deLuzuriaga, a spokeswoman for the university, said before Zuckerberg's arrival. "The excitement on campus is palpable. There is a big waiting list of students who want to go to this event and can't get in. It's the talk of campus today."

The meeting serves Facebook's purpose of looking for new engineers. The site, which is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, already has more than 2,000 employees.

Zuckerberg "is eager to connect with computer science and engineering students from some of the best schools in the world, and may well be tomorrow's Facebook innovators," Facebook's Andrew Noyes told the Crimson in an e-mail before the visit.

Facebook has grown from a dorm-room project to an international sensation, with more than 800 million people using the social-networking site.

Zuckerberg's fame has risen in tandem with the site's success. Last year, the Oscar-winning movie "The Social Network" profiled the somewhat socially awkward king of social media. At a Facebook product release in September, "Saturday Night Live's" Andy Samberg did impressions of Facebook's founder on stage.

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