25 Faces 25 Years: Daniel Mann
By Jacob Harte
Photo by Ed Caldwell
January 04, 2017
Daniel Mann, MS ’13: Content Specialist, Facebook
When people rank the most desirable places to work, Facebook is consistently positioned at the top of the list. Hundreds of thousands of people apply each year, while many others count themselves out before they even reach the point of submitting an application.
Daniel Mann, an alumnus of Drexel’s Master’s in Technical Communication program, 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.”
“Bold,” “open” and “focused” are attributes listed among Facebook’s core values, and within only a few moments of meeting Mann, it’s clear why he was hired by the social networking giant.
Originally from Michigan, Mann ventured to his hometown rival — Ohio State — while many of his friends chose colleges closer to home. Two weeks after he finished his undergrad degree, he took another leap and traveled to the East Coast to begin his graduate program at Drexel.
“I knew I wanted to go into technical writing,” he recalls. “I chose Drexel because the courses were 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, and while the classes for Drexel’s MS in technical communication set the foundation for Mann’s education, the experience he received during his internships played a major role in securing his first job.
“The program prepared me with the essentials 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 not be afraid of branching out.”
As he’d been doing his whole life, Mann looked beyond his immediate surroundings when finding an internship, searching throughout the U.S. for a position that would offer the experience he wanted. He soon 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,” says Mann. “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.”
Mann’s successes have been built on one invaluable fact: his goals are clearly defined and ever present. While at Drexel, he knew he wanted to eventually 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.
After graduating from Drexel, Mann relocated again — all the way to Silicon Valley — to take a job with Workday, a company focused on payroll, human resources and financial software, a mere 40 minutes from the Facebook campus.
“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 set goals.
“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.”
Professor Lawrence Souder, PhD, of the communication department at Drexel, also played a significant role, Mann says.
“Professor Souder has been instrumental in encouraging me and supporting me to grow. He wasn’t just teaching the text — he cared and he wanted to see you succeed.”
While on Facebook’s website one night, Mann came across an open position that fit his background and interests and offered an opportunity for growth. He took a chance.
Shortly after, he received an initial screening call from a Facebook recruiter, a second round phone interview with the hiring manager, and was then asked to come onsite for a half-day interview at the Facebook headquarters.
“I was confident at every stage of the process,” Mann says.
“Two days later, I received a call with my offer. I later found out that I was not only hired, I had also received a perfect score on my interview.”
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.”
This article originally appeared in the College of Arts and Sciences' Ask magazine feature story, "25 Faces, 25 Years." For more Ask stories, visit askmagazine.org.