Interview with Samuel Fox '18

Interview by Howie Rhee '04, with contributions by Coco Chen. Added June 15th, 2016

Tell us about what you studied at Duke and which program you were in?

Biomedical engineering. 

Talk about your prior work experience.

One summer before college I worked for a local day camp operating a biodiesel laboratory. I learned a lot about hardware, tools, and problem solving. The biggest takeaway was that one extra hour of planning can save ten extra hours of work. It was a fun summer doing dirty work.

After freshman year college, I interned at a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility as an assistant for the operations manager. I did all sorts of jobs for the twelve people he supervised, and I got to follow them around as they fixed the factory machinery.

What did your recruiting process look like?  How many people did you reach out to?

In total I reached out to ten companies. First, Howie Rhee connected me with four of his colleagues in my field of interest. I had conversations with all of them and inquired about internships at their companies. Although none had formal recruiting processes, they all offered to keep an eye out.

Second, I applied to two companies I knew from other sources, one through a high school teacher and one through a family friend. Both had online applications for internships.

Finally, I cold called and emailed four companies in Durham. Two of them responded, and neither had a formal recruiting process. I almost got an interview with one company but we didn't connect.

How did you come up with a list of companies to target?

I was looking for biotech or medical device startups. Howie got me started with ones he knew, and I already knew about two others. To find more I searched online for job listings in these fields and then researched the companies listed. I also found companies through the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce website and other municipal sites that listed local companies.

Talk about how you thought about location (city) as it related to recruiting.  Did you know where you wanted to end up or were you exploring?

I preferred Durham because a few friends are there for the summer, but I would have taken anywhere. It was not a big factor for me.

What was a favorite article or tip that someone gave you on the job search process?

My dad kept reminding me to be persistent. Most of my target companies were small startups, meaning the employees are very busy. If you just send one email it's likely to be forgotten, but if you send many emails they're likely to get back to you.

This strategy paid off for me. At the place I'll be working this summer, I first called the CEO over the phone (Howie connected us), then sent a follow up email. After six weeks I emailed again with no answer, so I called and left a voice mail every week for three weeks until they called me in for an interview. I did the interview, sent a follow up thank you email, then didn't hear back for two weeks. So I sent another email, they responded saying they closed the position, then a week later came back to me to offer another position. It was a seesaw on both ends so it was important to remind them that I was available and wanted it.


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