The Dating Game
Photo courtesy of ABC/Rick Rowell
Facebook media strategist Andrew Poole '06 seeks true love on television.
By Edward Weinman
In a top-secret location, somewhere near Malibu, Calif., Andrew Poole ’06 spent last spring in what he called “the most posh prison on the face of the Earth.”
That luxurious prison was no prison at all. It was the mansion where ABC producers filmed the hit series “The Bachelorette.” Poole, a media solutions strategist at Facebook, was competing with more than 20 eligible bachelors for the love and affection of Andi Dorfman, a 26-year-old assistant district attorney.
"Obviously, I wanted to meet somebody cool and potentially find a wife. I was skeptical of that happening, but why not?"
What’s a high-level Facebook employee with a history degree from a prestigious liberal arts college doing on a dating show?
Poole is handsome. He works at one of the world’s most conspicuous companies. And one night, while at a Los Angeles restaurant celebrating a friend’s birthday, a female scout for the show recruited Poole to sign up for the melodramatic soap opera that is “The Bachelorette.”
“It was out of the blue. Never anything I ever imagined doing,” Poole said.
“I met with the producers. They helped me understand how everything would work. I thought, ‘Hey, this might be kind of fun.’ It worked out pretty well, because Facebook rewards strong performance, and they allowed me to take time off to do the show.”
Describing his job as intense, Poole decided to woo a woman on national television rather than spend time off traveling the globe. He figured the show would be a mellow break from work.
The 411 on Andrew Poole
Occupation: Media Solutions Strategist
Hometown: Portola Valley, CA
Height: 6' 1"
Major at Whitman: History
Favorite Breakfast Foods: Eggs. Oatmeal, Berries
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Flying - to explore, feel freedom, speed.
“Obviously, I wanted to meet somebody cool and potentially find a wife. I was skeptical of that happening, but why not?”
Heck, it beats trying to find a companion on OkCupid, although at least with online dating there are no television cameras.
“It’s surreal, but at a certain point you forget about the cameras,” Poole said.
“My biggest misconception about the show was that it was scripted, but these are not actors. They are real people with real jobs from different parts of the country. They’ve just found themselves in this contrived experience. But it’s real situations and real life.”
The realness of the show hit home after the tragic death of Eric Hill, one of the contestants on “The Bachelorette.” The entertainment trade magazine “Variety” reported that Hill died after being critically injured in an accident near Point of the Mountain in Utah, where he was paragliding with friends.
Poole attended Hill’s funeral.
“Eric was one of the guys on the show with whom I bonded most. He was probably the most easygoing, genuine person of the bunch,” Poole said.
“Never one to judge and unwaveringly loyal to those he called friends. Even though I only knew him for a few weeks, I’ll miss him.”
Filming has since wrapped on “The Bachelorette.” Poole has returned to Facebook, where he manages a team that “focuses on helping advertisers leverage the Facebook platform more effectively.” He’s where he belongs.
“I grew up in Silicon Valley, so I always knew I wanted to get into the tech industry. It’s been a focus of mine since college,” Poole said.
In fact, the social network he developed at Whitman helped Poole land his first job in the tech industry as part of a recruiting team at Google.
“Google was a result of a referral from a fraternity brother from Whitman. The rest is history,” Poole said.
Poole thrives at Facebook because he says it’s a dynamic company and he’s working with brilliant employees who are all “passionate about what Facebook is trying to accomplish – connect everybody with frictionless sharing.”
Just as television viewers have misconceptions about reality shows like “The Bachelorette,” Facebook users have misconceptions about the social networking company.
“People don’t realize that Facebook is a company in the traditional sense. It’s hard for people to conceptualize that there are thousands of employees behind this website trying to provide a quality experience or bring in more users,” Poole said.
Despite living the dream by working at Facebook, a company that could be described as ground zero in the tech industry, Poole says he’s open to any serendipitous opportunities in the entertainment industry that might develop thanks to his stint on “The Bachelorette,” but he’s not counting on becoming an overnight sensation once the show airs.
"It's too early to assume that my appearance [on the show] will open doors to the entertainment industry, but I'm excited to see how this pans out."
“It’s too early to assume that my appearance will open doors to the entertainment industry, but I’m open to it. I have to wait until the show goes on the air and see how people react to me, but I’m excited to see how this pans out.”
While most alumni from reality shows become yesterday’s news as soon as the next season begins, Poole doesn’t regret one minute he spent on “The Bachelorette,” despite admitting that he had very little time to himself during the show to the point where one of the few activities he could do to escape the wandering eyes of the camera was nap. (He took a lot of naps.)
Because he signed what he called a “serious non-disclosure contract with serious repercussions for disclosing anything,” Poole won’t reveal whether or not he received the final rose from Andi, the bachelorette.
As for what the avid fans of “The Bachelorette,” who can be impulsively judgmental, will think of Poole when the show airs, he’s not too concerned.
“Even though I might have screwed up my chance to talk to Andi on different occasions, my friends and family won’t judge me for what they see on TV. It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”