Trip Coordination—A Great Leadership Opportunity
Last year, I joined the MES Club’s Off-Campus Events Cabinet as the Los Angeles Week-in-Cities (WIC) coordinator. I thought it would be a great way to meld my previous work experience with my desire to learn more about West Coast opportunities. As blogger Diana Yarmovich has previously mentioned, Week-in-Cities trips provide opportunities for students to visit companies and interact with recruiters, employees, and alumni.
The Los Angeles trip occurred during winter break, in early January. As lead for the LA WIC, I reached out to various contacts and alumni to set up one-on-one meetings for my classmates. Though WIC group sizes can vary, our group consisted of 7, including 5 first-year students, 1 second-year student, and our club advisor, Ed Bernier, Associate Director in Fuqua’s Career Management Center. While WIC coordinators organize and facilitate the logistics of the trip, each participant is responsible for all costs of the trip. Airfare was pricey, so in true Team Fuqua fashion, we shared hotel rooms and 5 of us crammed into 1 trusty rental car (thank you Ali for driving!). We were also responsible for all of our meals, so we made sure to eat some of the best food in LA, aka In-N-Out Burger!
Days Full of Networking
Traditionally, WIC trips are fully organized by and for the participating Fuqua club, but our experience was a little different. In LA, four of the companies we visited, including Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and Disney, hosted special “MBA Days,” which we were able to take advantage of.
Students from 10 to 15 other schools also attended these MBA Days, and events included speaker panels, Q&As, and networking time. Though this was a different experience from other Week-in-Cities trips (in total, I’ve attended 4), I really enjoyed the opportunity to interact and engage with students from other schools who are interested in the media/entertainment industry. The networking time also provided us with opportunities for 1-on-1 chats with multiple people at each company. And of course, the Duke brand carried us far, as we connected with both Duke and Fuqua alumni at many of the companies!
Although Fuqua staff do not usually attend WIC trips, it was helpful for Ed to join us in LA, especially at Disney’s MBA Day, where there were staff members/club advisors from other schools. Personally, I felt that Ed’s attendance made a great statement about the commitment of Duke to recruiting companies and the media/entertainment industry overall.
MBAs in Media & Entertainment
Though there was a lot of information to absorb, it was also a lot of fun (one of the perks of entertainment)! In contrast to the 30-degree weather in Durham, we enjoyed sunny 80-degree weather while touring the Paramount and Warner Bros. studios, where we saw familiar sets and even spotted a Big Bang Theory actor! What I enjoyed most, though, was the opportunity to hear from MBAs who have been successful in the media industry. Some of them even had to educate others in the industry about the value of an MBA. In the end, it was exciting to see companies that encourage, support, and promote successful MBAs.
While I definitely faced some challenges in organizing the trip, the opportunity to interact with all of the recruiters was priceless. Because multiple schools participated in the MBA Days, every recruiter interacted with the trip leaders only (instead of with all the students). As someone who does not have any prior work experience in LA, leading the trip was a great way to build contacts in the industry, and I’m looking forward to strengthening those as the recruiting process continues. Aside from the career benefits, it was also fun to talk about movies, television, and celebrities with industry leaders! The LA Week-In-Cities trip reaffirmed that I can combine my personal passion for media and pop culture with my professional interest and skills for future success.