Alumni Spotlight: Samson Blackwell
What is your current position? Why were you drawn to this line of work?
I’m the Director of Talent Acquisition at Cal Poly. I oversee the recruitment process for all staff and management (but not faculty) roles at the university. There are few things you can do in an organization that are more important than hiring the best people, and I feel strongly that you must employ a thoughtful, strategic, and objective approach if you want to do it right. I’m proud to help Cal Poly continue to excel at this.
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your career/life?
So many things! For my career I’m proud of the work I did with Providence Health and Services, the job I held before Cal Poly. PHS is a not-for-profit healthcare provider who does incredible work wherever they have a facility. I was part of an amazing team who reimagined their recruiting approach and helped them find, hire, and retain very talented and compassionate caregivers. Here at Cal Poly, I’m proud of the new recruiting process that we’re implementing across campus. It’s leaner, faster, and more focused on outreach and the candidate experience. For my life I’m so glad for my 21 years of marriage to my beautiful wife, Deni, and I’m proud of my two children, Logan and Kaia, who are becoming amazing humans despite everything I throw at them.
How has your English degree from Cal Poly impacted your career/life?
Let me count the ways:
- I communicate all day, every day, in various contexts and with varying levels of formality, from a casual conversation with a co-worker to a more formal conversation with a candidate, and from a quick email to my team to a formal communication to campus leaders
- I critically analyze language all day, every day, from a resume and cover letter to a 67 page policy on Background Checks, and from a terse conversation in the hall with a search committee chair about a strong candidate to a team meeting where we’re troubleshooting an issue I rely on my knowledge of and ability to use rhetoric (ethos, pathos, logos), structure, tone, literary analysis—and all those other things that sound so academic when you’re studying them—to be successful at my job every day. In my life, I credit effective communication as one of the primary reasons for 21 years of marriage and children who still talk to me.
Do you have any advice for current English majors at Cal Poly?
- Nothing is fixed: be open to opportunities and possibilities
- Whatever you’re doing, do it with passion and zeal
- Balance your heart with your head when making big decisions
- Live like you’re only here once
Favorite author/book and why? (or if you can't choose, favorite genre?)
That’s so hard! Seveneves by Neal Stephenson has been sticking in my mind since I read it a couple of years ago. It manages to be both bleak and hopeful, which resonates with the existentialist in me.