Growing up in Texas, Sam Wolfe has always been passionate about people. He found joy in talking to people and working with others, serving on his high school’s broadcast team and many other extracurriculars. A journalism conference inspired him to pursue a degree in communication at Mason. Here, his passion was fueled by challenging courses and internships that allowed him to grow, which soon led him to a job with the world’s #1 search engine just two years after graduating.
As a scaled account strategist at Google, Sam is a part of Google’s customer solutions team. He works with advertising agencies that use Google Ads, helping them optimize their ads across the Internet by creating and implementing business plans that grow their online presence.
“If you’ve ever googled ‘restaurant near me,’ you probably see a couple of listings at the top that say ‘ad.’ You’ve also probably seen those bumper ads on YouTube that show right before a video. We do all of that,” said Sam. “So much goes into the system picking which ads show where. That’s where my role comes in. We’re here to help agencies and their customers understand how to get the best results and maximize their investment.”
Having only worked at companies with a maximum 250 employees, Sam admits that working at Google, with over 100,000 employees, can be intimidating. However, that challenge is what he enjoys most about the job.
It’s a “Dream Job”
“The people and the growth are what I love most about it,” he said. “The opportunity that Google presents, you are by no means siloed into your one team. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of other teams that you can work with on a daily basis.”
Sam’s transition to an advertising-based job was a big adjustment, having worked three years in social media positions with Khoros, Best Buy, and the Washington Scholars Program.
“You get really good at strategy and doing one thing, and people start coming to you for questions,” he said. “Going from that to this role where I know nothing, I've had to become comfortable being the one asking the questions again.”
Nonetheless, Sam credits Google’s training program with his success on the job early on. “I’ve worked at companies where you receive four days learning, and then they throw you on the job,” he said. “Google really takes the time to invest in its people. We go through six to eight weeks of pure product training, sales training, and doing mock pitches with clients. That way, we’re ready when it’s time to start being held accountable to quotas. There’s so much to learn, but they really do a great job of walking you through it.”
Sam’s road to a communication career wasn’t always clear cut. He originally entered Mason as a marketing major with a minor in psychology. He soon realized, however, that the communication major would be a better fit for his aspirations.
“I quickly realized that marketing is more business-focused,” said Sam. “What I wanted to do is more people-focused stuff.”
After taking advice from a friend to transition to PR, Sam thrived in the communication major. He took on numerous internships and campus jobs, all while balancing a full course load.
His work experiences in college led him to a job at one of the most highly sought-after companies in the world. “Google accepts and hires less people than Yale and Harvard does,” said Sam. “Google has a .2% acceptance rate. Hundreds, if not thousands of people apply to every role, so the process is pretty intense.”
Mason’s Hands-on Experiences = Job Prep
He credits Mason communication courses for his preparation on the job. “It gives you the tools you need to enter the workforce prepared,” he said. “Even more so than that, it teaches you how to work with other people in a professional environment.”
Specifically, Sam credits Professor Suzanne Mims’ Writing for Public Relations (COMM 391) and PR Campaigns (COMM 331) courses. “Her classes were great because I got that hands-on experience,” he said. “It wasn’t just, ‘here are 12 theories and memorize which ones are most effective,’ we were given real-world experience creating marketing campaigns for clients or working with a company all semester to accomplish some kind of goal. That really gave me a solid foundation.”
As a former Mason ambassador, Sam advises students to take as many leadership opportunities as possible, but don’t overload yourself. He also suggests students find every opportunity to get uncomfortable.
“Getting uncomfortable means you're stretching, and that is where you grow,” said Sam. “It might be scary, you might not what you’re doing, maybe someone else is more qualified. But you’re going to do it anyways because it’s going to benefit you. That’s how you have to start looking at things, and it’ll change everything.
George Mason’s department of communication was recently named to the PRNews Education A-List, a roster of the top 35 educational institutions advancing the careers of PR and communication professionals in the U.S. Mason communication majors can choose to concentrate in public relations, journalism, media production and criticism, political communication, organizational or interpersonal communication as well as minor in other cross-department subjects. The department provides students with a blend of theory, research, and hands-on experiential learning to prepare them for the wide variety of careers in professional communication.
October 21, 2021