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Bold, Open and Focused: How One Drexel Alum Landed a Job at Facebook

By Jacob Harte

April 27, 2015

 

Daniel Mann

Daniel Mann in the Instagram Gravity Room

When people rank the most desirable places to work, Facebook is consistently positioned at the top of the list. Hundreds of thousands apply each year and yet, many others count themselves out before they even reach the point of submitting an application.

Daniel Mann, MS communication ’13, never counts himself out.

“I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” he says. “I just see it as ‘not right now.’ I set goals and if things don’t work out the way I’ve planned, I keep pushing and planning until I get where I think I should be.”

That “never give up” mentality is exactly what Facebook is looking for — their website says they want candidates who are “bold, open and focused.” Within only a few moments of meeting Mann, it’s clear he exudes each of those values, which is likely why he’s now working as a Content Specialist for the social networking giant.

“If you’re not going to make the jump, how will you ever know what you’re capable of?” he asks.

Two weeks after he finished his undergrad at Ohio State, Mann made one of many leaps when he began his graduate degree at Drexel University.

“I knew I wanted to go into technical writing,” he says. “So I did my research and I chose Drexel because the courses seemed relevant and the program required internships. There is no replacement for getting hands-on experience. You don’t really know what you want to do until you get experience doing it.”

Internships are rare at the master’s level in most colleges. And while the classes for Drexel’s master’s in technical communication set the foundation for Mann’s education, the experience he received during his internships played a major part in securing his first job.

“The program prepared me with the essentials needed to excel in the workforce,” he says. “The classes were demanding and focused on applying principles to real-world scenarios. Then the internships gave me the opportunity to actually use those principles in the field. I would encourage all students to get real experience and to not be afraid of branching out.”

As he’d been doing his whole life, Mann thought outside the box when choosing his internships — and in this case, that also meant outside of Philadelphia. 

After looking all over the U.S. for an internship that would offer the experience he wanted, Mann landed a job with Interactive Intelligence, a global communications company based in Indianapolis that provides communication, collaboration and engagement software and Cloud services.

“Some people aren’t open to change and consequently miss out on opportunities. Many wouldn’t consider moving to a whole new place just for the summer, but the company gave me a relocation bonus for the move and covered my rent in addition to paying me,” says Mann.

This openness to explore has benefited Mann throughout his life. Originally from Michigan, he ventured to his hometown’s rival — Ohio State — while many of his friends chose to stay closer to home.

“I’ve always been the person who wanted to explore what everyone else wasn’t,” he says. “I’ve never been a follower — not that I’m totally against doing what other people are doing. I just want to do it differently.”

When he moved to Philadelphia to pursue his master’s, he didn’t know anyone, but eagerly took on the challenge of adapting to a new atmosphere. After Drexel, he again relocated — all the way to Silicon Valley — to take a job with Workday, a mere 40 minutes from the Facebook campus in California.

“Workday is a SaaS [Software as a Service] company that focuses on payroll, human resources and financial software,” says Mann. “I worked with engineers, product managers and other writers to develop software documentation for their HCM [Human Capital Management] product.”

Mann is always thinking of his next step. His successes have been built on one invaluable fact: his goals are clearly defined and ever present. At Drexel, he knew he wanted to work for a company like Facebook or Google. He knew he wanted to care about and feel connected to the product he was helping to enhance. Those goals have guided every move he’s made — from Michigan to Ohio to Philadelphia to Indiana to California.

“You never really know where you’re going to end up, but my goals have kept me on the right track,” Mann says. “It also helps when you have people who encourage and support your efforts.”

He credits his parents for always driving him to do more, to be more and to have goals.

Lawrence Souder, PhD, associate teaching professor of communication at Drexel and director of the Drexel Edits program, also played a significant role in Mann’s development.

“Dr. Souder has been instrumental in encouraging me and supporting me to grow,” he says. “He wasn’t just teaching the text — he cared and he wanted to see you succeed.” 

At only 27, Mann has already achieved what some never even venture to accomplish.

"I've always been a person to shoot for the stars. The internship experience I received through the program enabled me to enter the job market with confidence. This confidence (and experience) helped me land my dream job at Facebook. My whole philosophy is to never count myself out."