Samuel (Sam) Benford is a sixth-year Northeastern engineering student who has been a part of the Galante Engineering Business Program since Spring 2020. He is a part of the PlusOne Program and graduated with his BS in Industrial Engineering in May 2020. Benford will be graduating this upcoming May with his MS in Operations Research. Thanks to encouragement from Assistant Teaching Professor Mohammad Dehghani of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Benford decided to apply to join the Galante Program. Through conversations with Professor Dehghani and other Fellows, Benford saw that the Galante program seemed to help participants get the most out of their Northeastern Experience. To note another highlight of his experience, he has completed three co-ops at EnerNOC, Sperry Capital, and Akamai Technologies over the course of his undergraduate degree.
During his first co-op at EnerNOC, Benford worked on a team tasked with maintaining an energy portfolio. On his second co-op, he earned a Series 50 financial certification and contributed to an academic paper on public-private partnerships in highway financing. He was also able to participate directly in client-facing financial advisory work. On his most recent co-op at Akamai Technologies, he worked as a Data Science Analyst. He worked a lot with R, Tableau, and learned about how database management works at large companies. He was working within a process improvement team and enjoyed the opportunity to combine the technical aspects of the job with a process improvement mindset. Benford is currently working on his master’s thesis with Professor Dehghani as his advisor. His thesis is based on comparing the performance of Reinforcement Learning techniques with traditional operations research and metaheuristics solution methods when solving the knapsack problem (a common optimization problem in operations research). He has found the experience of working on a thesis very challenging and rewarding since he has had to learn a lot of new skills. Benford is also the Data Analyst for the Galante program where he is looking to create dashboards that give us some insight into the program, its performance, and how it can continuously improve.
Benford will be graduating in May 2021 and just signed an offer for a Consultant Analyst role at PA Consulting Group on their Operations and Improvement team. His favorite event so far during his time as a Galante Fellow was the presentation from Dr. George Zavaliagos, VP of Technology at Sense. This presentation showed how important it is to keep an open mind when new opportunities arise and that there are always many career paths to explore. Benford’s advice to underclassmen would be to not count themselves out from opportunities even if they feel under-qualified. While technical skills are important, when it comes to looking for co-ops, research positions, or full-time opportunities, showing interest by reaching out for a quick call with someone at the organization is the best way to separate yourself from the rest of the applicants. Going to info sessions or just messaging people on LinkedIn can be a great way to get your foot in the door, even when your qualifications don’t necessarily line up with a job description.