Being Open About Failure

This past week in HONOR 401, our class had the opportunity to visit the 3 Dots space in downtown State College. I really appreciated the change of setting, and I think it allowed for more creative and open thinking. Like our speaker, Spud Marshall, said to us in class, many of the deepest and most enlightening conversations happen in spaces that aren’t the conventional classroom. I never really thought about how much the atmosphere of any location – the feeling of comfort vs. discomfort – can really influence the thought process and free-flowing conversation that results.

What I really wanted to write about in this post, however, was Spud Marshall’s openness when he talked about the successes and failures of his various projects. As someone who has been involved in so many different endeavors, Spud easily could have chosen to only focus on those that had become successes and we would not have known the difference. However, his candidness about things that didn’t go as he had planned made his success all the more impressive, and made me trust him more as a speaker. I knew that he wouldn’t inflate his achievements, and that he wasn’t afraid to admit when mistakes were made.

I think this openness about failure is something that I need to embrace more in my life. I’ve always been far too concerned with what people think about me, and that fact became way more apparent when I came to college and had to start comparing myself to my peers in terms of classes, work, major, internships, jobs, etc. This sense of competition was definitely a form of motivation, but it also came with this insatiable need to make sure that other people were impressed by what I was doing. I felt insecure about my major and wanted to make up for it by explaining the difficulty of my individual classes. I wanted people to know when I got internship offers or other achievements because I based my personal success off of what other people saw in me.

It’s been a process to realize that the only person that I really need to care about impressing is myself, because ultimately, we are all going to go down our own paths and stop caring so much about what everyone around us is doing. I need to be more open about the failures that I’ve had and the stress that I’ve gone through, because it’s a more accurate representation of myself and I shouldn’t need to worry about what other people think about my successes and my failures. Spud’s candidness only impressed me more, and it really inspired me to commit myself to being honest in the same way, both with myself and with others.

It is foolish to think that any person is going to get through life without some major failures here and there. We grow from them, and we are better because of them. Why shouldn’t we be honest about that?

A Couple of Days Off

(7/7/19)

This week was very short for me when it came to work, because I only had to go into the Discovery office on Monday and Tuesday. The company gave everyone off on Friday for the Independence Day holiday, and my supervisor told me to take off on Wednesday as well so that I could spend an extra day at home with my family. Like I said in a previous blog post, I am really appreciative of the fact that Discovery puts so much emphasis on maintaining a healthy work/life balance, and that the employees are encouraged to both put in hard work and also make time for their families and personal lives. I appreciated that mindset this week especially, because my family always makes a huge deal out of the 4th of July. Each year, we get together with everyone on my mom’s side of the family at my cousins’ house in upstate New York, and we get to spend a few days together full of fun and quality time. This year was definitely no different!

Monday and Tuesday at work had several meetings and loose ends for me to tie up before diving into the long weekend. Everyone was in such a great mood as the vacation neared, but i don’t think anyone was in a better mood than me! I took the train back to West Chester on Tuesday night, and I was so happy to have some time to spend with my family back home before embarking on yet another journey to pretty middle-of-nowhere New York. We started the trip early on Thursday morning, heading to my grandparents’ house first where we did a hike, sat out and picnicked by a lake, walked around Cooperstown, and then went out for a delicious BBQ dinner. That night we set off for my cousins’ house, and the days that ensued were full of tennis, home-cooked meals, cake decorating, sitting on the porch, going to the farmer’s market, visiting breweries, playing poker, and togetherness. I couldn’t have had a better long weekend, and it just makes me look forward to doing it all again next year!

Updates + Pride Weekend!

(6/30/19)

This week was busy busy busy – but what else is new? The days seemed to fly by as the meetings came one after another and more work was continuously added to my plate. I am currently working on a main project throughout the summer, which is a competitive analysis of the onboarding/profile creation processes for other TV Everywhere apps. Discovery owns the apps for TLC, HGTV, ID, Food Network, SCI, Discovery, Animal Planet, and TRVL Channel, and my department is in charge of retaining users on these apps and getting them to stream as much content as possible. We are constantly looking at ways to improve the user experience and encourage them to come back for more and tell their friends. Some of the ways to potentially improve the user experience is to change the process when it comes to making a profile on the app, opting in for push notifications, or giving opportunities to provide feedback about the app. My role in this competitive analysis project is to complete a comprehensive overview of the competitor’s apps by downloading them as if I were a new, casual user and documenting the onboarding process. I will present my findings to the team towards the end of my internship, and hopefully I will be able to give some concrete suggestions regarding what I believe are the most successful and unsuccessful ways of retaining a user.

So that is what I have been working on for the majority of this week! On Friday, we had a team onsite/offsite meeting that involved being in a conference room with my team for the majority of the day and discussing our goals and strategies for the upcoming weeks. I really appreciate that my supervisor goes out of her way to make sure that I am learning as much as possible and really making the most of this experience. She often asks me what I want to focus on or improve upon so that she can give me projects that will help me develop news skills that will make me more of an asset to companies in the future.

This week was also Pride week in NYC, which was so exciting! We had a pride event at the Discovery office, and on Sunday my friends and I attended the NYC World Pride parade! We live in Greenwich Village this summer, less than a 10 minute walk away from the Stonewall Inn where the Pride movement first began, so it was an especially thrilling area to be in. The parade was beautiful and the atmosphere was electric. It was an amazing week!

A Lot of Work, A Lot of Free Food

(6/23/19)

Things are continuing to move at a quick pace here at Discovery, and I am getting more tasks and projects given to me on almost a daily basis. I am really getting the hang of the pace of this position, and the work that I am putting in makes me feel like a real asset to a team full of talented and driven people. Though I am still contemplating about what kind of job it is that I want to pursue after I graduate, I know for sure after three internship experiences that no matter what, I need to surround myself with inspiring people. If the people I work with are so passionate about what they do, then that passion rubs off on me and I am more motivated myself to do a great job and serve the people around me.

Though the projects this week were free-flowing and abundant, there were also many opportunities to relax, get to know other people around the office, and truly enjoy my work days! I also believe that looking forward (or at least not dreading!) coming into the office every day is something that can be found and cultivated in an environment that is both productive and conducive to periods of de-stressing and relaxation. On Monday, there was a breakfast for the entire digital team on the 11th floor of my building, so a couple of the other interns in the department and I spent the time getting to know one another and eating delicious food. On Tuesday, the smaller digital marketing team went out to lunch (a lot of this is food-based) which basically turned into a two hour pow-wow addressing everything from the TV shows we were all currently watching to how we can improve the functions and productivity of the team. A work lunch that combines work and play seems to be very beneficial – and I got some delicious free food out of it! We also had a surprise baby shower this week for two members of the team who are pregnant and due in the summer, which made me feel good knowing that the company heavily promotes a strong work/life balance. I know that someday I want to have a family, but I don’t want to compromise my career either. Finding a company that supports working mothers is something that I really want to be in search of in my future (though maybe not the near future!)

Over the weekend I had a visitor from home come to NYC and we had the best time. We went to a comedy show on Friday, went for a picnic on Governors Island and a boat cruise on Saturday, and rode bikes around Central Park on Sunday. It was a lovely weekend, and I am always in awe of how much NYC has to offer!

Week 2 at Discovery

(6/18/19)

I’ve learned this past week more than ever that if you are given a ton of projects to do at work, the day will pass by quickly and then the week will zoom by even quicker. Though my internship with Disney was a ton of fun, there were often days that I didn’t have many pressing things to work on and the day would crawl by. But here at Discovery, I am given a bunch to do every single time I come into the office. Our digital marketing team is very small, with two women on it so pregnant that they’re about to pop, so I feel as though I’m taking the lead on a lot of tasks that wouldn’t typically be given to an intern. This makes me feel like a valued member of the team, and I love leaving the office every day knowing that I benefited the department and the company. The worst feeling would be leaving work for the day and feeling like nothing important was accomplished in the 9 hours there. Luckily, I never have that feeling at Discovery.

It’s also been very beneficial for me to work in a department that I haven’t interacted closely with in the past. I’m trying to utilize my internship experiences to discover what jobs I want to pursue after graduation in a relatively low-risk scenario; sure, if I don’t like the work that I’m doing I will have to endure it for 10 weeks or so. But at least I haven’t committed to it for a couple of years. With that being said, I am using my time here to really assess whether digital marketing is something that I want to seek a full-time job in. So far, I have really appreciated the ability to solidly contribute to the team. However, I sometimes feel like my creative muscle isn’t being flexed enough; I have always been a creative person and an idea-machine, and I don’t know if my full potential is really being reached if I am spending more time with data and numbers rather than more arbitrary but unique expressions of creativity through writing and ideas. I think it is become clearer to me that after graduation, I will pursue a career related to creative marketing. This is a way to combine my love for generating new and fresh ideas while also tapping into the forever-lucrative marketing side of the entertainment industry. I have always wanted to work in entertainment business, and I really believe this is the sector that I will thrive in.

My two weeks so far in NYC have brought me these revelations, as well as a lot of new friends and fun times. I really like my roommates and we have spent a lot of time together the past two weekends discovering new restaurants and ways to enjoy our time in such an exciting city. There is so much to do here and so much to discover, and I doubt I will be able to do even half of the things on my list before my 10 weeks here are up. Hopefully I’ll be able to secure a full time job in or near the city next year so that I can continue crossing items off that list!

A Lot to Discover! (See What I Did There?)

(6/10/19)

I am back again and ready to begin another blog series, this time about my third internship overall during my college career and the third internship that the PLA has so generously supported. Though it’s a lot of writing, I’m appreciative of the chance to write these weekly blog posts and keep track of all that I’ve done throughout my internships, both inside and outside of work.

I want to start off by making some last remarks about my incredible experience in Los Angeles! My last day interning with Disney Channel was a little over a month ago on April 26th, and I cannot believe it has been that long because it feels like I was just there! I was very sad to leave all my co-workers and new connections I had made at Disney, and they made sure that I felt so special on my last day, sending me off with food and gifts. Many of them told me to keep in touch, and it wasn’t until I finally left the office on that last Friday that the impact of this opportunity truly hit me. I had just spent over three months living and working in the city that had always felt like some kind of dreamland to me. I saw it in movies and television shows, had visited once for vacation, and had researched it many times, but never did I think that as a junior in college I would be able to live there temporarily and experience all that this thrilling new place had to offer. I will forever be grateful to my parents and all those who helped me get there, and to the new friends that I made while in LA that I will be sharing these memories with for the rest of my life.

After returning from LA, I had the month of May to relax and catch up with friends and family that I had been missing so much from the west coast. I spent some time back in State College then returned to my home in West Chester for some much-needed R&R. I would say that May was one of the most fun months that I have ever had, and it was a great way to unwind after full-time work and prepare for my next launch into another full-time job. Cue me moving to New York City last weekend for another summer in the Big Apple! I am so excited to be back here again, this time interning with Discovery, Inc., and again I am so grateful for my parents and for the support that Penn State and the PLA has given me to allow me to come back.

This past week was my first week interning with Discovery in the digital marketing department, working across some of my favorite brands like TLC, HGTV, ID, and more. Though it is notoriously difficult to explain succinctly what the digital marketing team is specifically in charge of, I will say that it has a lot to do with gathering and retaining consumers through strategic campaigns that target their interests and occur through TV Watch Apps, websites, email, and more. I have never worked in a digital marketing role, and it is definitely different from what I’m used to. Especially as a rising senior who will have to determine soon what kinds of jobs I want to apply for when I graduate, I am very appreciative of the chance to interact closely with this new kind of department and further narrow down what I am interested in and where I can excel. This past week has mostly been an introduction to what I will get up to over the next ten weeks, but I have also gotten started on some projects and I have certainly been kept busy.

Though I don’t have anything very interesting to report yet, I am looking forward to the upcoming weeks and the exciting info I will have to write about in each upcoming email. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

I’m Neighbors with a Disney Channel Actress!

(4/1/19) It’s already April, which marks the last of my months in Los Angeles. Time keeps moving quicker and quicker, and though I’m looking forward to coming back to the east coast with a lot of stories to share, I also don’t want this exciting adventure in my life to end. I still have about four weeks, though, and I’m hoping to pack in as much as possible both in my work life and in my traipsing-around-LA life.

This past work week was definitely exciting, and I meant it when I said it a few blogs ago that I really never know what I’m going to be doing on a given day at Disney Channel until I actually come into the office. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were relatively slow days that included me just continuing to work on some long-term projects I’d been given, like going through Descendants 3 behind the scenes, screening episodes of a new animated series called “Amphibia” to help writer/producers brainstorm ideas for the show’s creative marketing, and assist the writers/producers with general work overflow. Thursday and Friday, on the other hand, were really thrilling for me because I got to be on set again! Usually when my department is conducting shoots, they occur at the small shooting location right in our building called the Nook. The shoot from this past week was much bigger, so it had to happen off-site. So, on Thursday and Friday I didn’t go into my office and instead when to a soundstage in Glendale where the crew had to construct three very different sets in a short period of time. The shoot was for Asian Pacific American Heritage month, and it involved a couple of young dancers as well as a Disney Channel talent (Ciara Wilson, who played Athena in the recent live-action Kim Possible movie) who performed choreographed dances to popular Disney Channel songs that had been re-worked to sound like the style of different international music. Thursday was the rehearsal day and Friday was the actual shoot, and though the days were pretty tiring, it was so cool to see these dancers in action on the beautifully constructed and aesthetically pleasing sets. I also found out after chatting with them on set that Ciara Wilson and her mother live about five doors down from me in my LA apartment! Such a small world moment!

This week was pretty busy outside of work as well! On Monday night we had a networking dinner with the Penn State alumni who serve on the board of the Hollywood Program. There were about 10-12 alumni who are extremely well-established in their respective fields, many of which are fields that apply to things that I may be interested in going into after I graduate. It was a really valuable time to make some connections and some delicious (free) food. On Tuesday night we had class, and Hal Sadoff was our guest speaker. I mentioned to him that I was in PLA after hearing that you all had met with him during your trip to LA, and he said that he was very impressed by our group and the program itself. On Wednesday night I went bowling with a group of my friends here, and on Thursday I was able to catch up on some much-needed rest and relaxation before my trip to Penn State for the weekend! I came back for the weekend in order to attend my last College of Communications Alumni Society Board meeting as a student representative, and this also gave me a great excuse to come back (albeit for a short time) and see some of the people that I have missed the most! So, even though I am sad to think about my time in Los Angeles with the Hollywood Program coming to an end, this taste of State College is getting me really excited to come home for good and spend my last year at college with some truly incredible people.

A Big Week for Disney, A Fun Week for Katie

(3/25/19)

Every time I come back to write another one of these blog posts, I have to look back through the photos on my camera roll to remember all of the unique experiences that I’ve had over the past week. It’s gotten to the point in which it’s hard to even distinguish between work experiences and personal experiences, because a lot of things I get to do through work are so exciting and don’t feel like work at all. To keep things organized, though, I’ll continue to sort my blog posts by the most significant aspects of work and play:

Work:

One of the coolest hands-on experiences I had most recently was being able to be on set for a promotional shoot for a Disney Channel show called “Sydney to the Max.” Usually when there are shoots happening in my building I am able to go but only able to observe; this time, however, I was actually given the duty of filming one of the angles using a small handheld camera in case the writer/producer needed a different angle or some behind the scenes footage. I was three feet away from the talent at all times, and the two main actresses were super fun to talk to. It was funny because they were acting like I was a person of authority as one of the employees on the shoot, but in reality, I was by far the least experienced person there!

Another great opportunity I had was the chance to talk with Dan Reynolds, the VP of Digital Media at ABC and a Penn State alum. He was someone I had gotten in contact with during the application process for internships in Los Angeles, so it was really nice to meet him in person and pick his brain about the path to his success and his time at Penn State. He gave me some invaluable advice and has begun setting me up with different individuals to talk to across different Disney departments, including Freeform and Disney theatrical.

Finally, as many of you may know about, this past week was huge for Disney because of the monumental merger with 21stCentury Fox, signaling one of the biggest unions between two massive media conglomerates. There is a lot of uncertainty still within many aspects of the company, but we employees have received multiple emails from company “higher-ups” explaining the diligence they are taking with all decisions made from here on out. We have meetings every other week with the president of Disney Channels Worldwide, Gary Marsh, and at the meeting this past week he expressed his excitement at the opportunities to come from this move.

Play:

We saw the first really nice weather since moving out here in Los Angeles, and by that, I mean it was hot and sunny enough to make the trek to Malibu about 45 minutes from where we live. The beaches were beautiful, the sound of the waves was so relaxing, and I didn’t get nearly as sunburnt as I expected to – a definite success. That was on Saturday, and on Sunday I took advantage of my employee complimentary access to Disneyland and went there for the third time. We spent the whole day in California Adventure Park (and saw Noah Cyrus while there!) and I was exhausted but so happy coming home. I don’t think I will ever get tired of going there and I definitely intend to go back! This weekend I spent a lot of time with my friends, making dinner, hanging in the hot tub, walking around rodeo drive, and going out to an incredible brunch. It was a nice relaxing weekend to have in preparation for a very busy week that includes a networking brunch with the Hollywood Program board on Monday, class on Tuesday, my friend from high school visiting on Wednesday, and working as a Production Assistant on set on Thursday. Friday I will be going to bed early because I will be waking up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to fly home to Penn State for the weekend! I have my last Alumni Society Board meeting as a student representative, and it gives me an excuse to come back and see a bunch of my friends!

The Journey Continues

(2/25/19)

While this week I don’t have anything as exciting as Wand IDs to report (though there is another Wand ID shoot this coming Wednesday…stay tuned), my job and my personal life have remained as interesting and as new as ever. That’s one of my favorite parts about living and working in a place that is so different from what I’m used to – every one of my experiences is completely fresh, and even if it isn’t the most extraordinary, the fact that it’s not something I have seen and done so many times before is what really makes my time here interesting.

These past two weeks at work have involved more opportunities to write my own scripts for promotional material for current Disney Channel shows. I have written scripts for more episodes of “Fancy Nancy,” and this time I was able to sit down with an editor as he walked me through my script and showed me what worked and what didn’t. I feel as though this is one of the best ways to learn – actually sitting down one on one with someone who has so many years of experience in the field and knows promo editing like the back of his own hand. It was also pretty cool when we veered off topic for a bit and he showed me a reel of his past work, which included things like the “Camp Rock 2” trailer, “Andi Mack” series trailers, and the “Phineas and Ferb” movie trailer. It was yet another experience that felt almost surreal to me, knowing that these were videos that my friends and I used to obsess over and here I was sitting in the small, cozy editing bay where they were pieced together.

I also had the chance to visit TVA, or Disney’s Television Animation studio, where so many of my favorite cartoon shows were brought to life. I felt inspired just walking around the halls of this incredible building, which had walls adorned with colorful sketches and a small gallery with Disney works done by various employees around the building that is apparently refreshed every month. I sat in on a meeting regarding the marketing strategy for a new animated series coming to Disney Channel called “Amphibia” and had yet another moment of feeling like a small fish in a very big pond as I sat at a fancy conference table surrounded by the showrunner and executive producer of this new show as well as many other important contributors to the network and series strategy. Even though I did feel like a small fish, it couldn’t have been a cooler and more inspiring big pond to be swimming in.

In terms of personal adventures, no surprise here but my friends and I went back to the Mexican restaurant with karaoke on Friday night and sang our hearts out. I really love the group of people I am out here with, and it has been so fulfilling to learn about their lives and get to know individuals that are heading down the same career path as me despite having never met them before. I also went back to beautiful Santa Monica, hiked an INTENSE hike up to the Hollywood sign, saw a comedy show, ate at unique restaurants, and spent more time than is probably healthy in the hot tub.

I am so excited for everyone in PLA to be here over spring break, and I am really hoping to meet up with you at some point! I hope you all enjoy LA as much as I have so far!

More Than Halfway Done…What??

Let me start out by saying that it is almost unfathomable to me that my time in Los Angeles is over halfway complete. Before, when I would tell people at my work that I would be here until late April, it seemed like the end was so far away. Now, it’s in less than 7 weeks! I have a feeling that these next 7 weeks are going to go by so quickly. Isn’t that usually how life goes – that once you overcome the struggle and “getting used to it” phase in the beginning of an experience, the time just starts to fly. Before I know it, I will be saying good-byes to the people, the places, and the memories I’ve made here – but I don’t want to think about that quite yet.

Now let me get into what I’ve been up to since the last time I blogged. As per usual, I will begin with what I’ve been doing at work. It’s been getting harder and harder to keep track of everything I do throughout the days at Disney Channel, especially because this internship is the kind of job in which every single day brings something different. I have some ongoing projects that I’ve been working on, including going through Descendants 3 behind the scenes footage, helping writer/producers on various promo and social media projects, and doing research concerning vendors and current programming. What really makes me excited about the day to day of my job, though, is the fact that there can be a shoot or a really cool meeting on that day that I will get to sit in on! Two weeks ago, there was another Wand ID shoot in my building with the child actors on a new Disney Channel show called “Just Roll With It,” and a few days later I was actually able to drive to a major TV studio in downtown Los Angeles to be on set for a “Just Roll With It” promotional shoot. It was insanely interesting to see the whole set, the talent, and the crew that had to come together to make these marketing promos happen. Plus, my favorite part may have been the catered lunch and never-ending snack station. This upcoming week, I will be working more on my ongoing projects, conducting a research project on High School Musical (wouldn’t it be nice if these were the kinds of research projects I had to do at Penn State?) and working on some promotional material of my own! As someone who loves staying busy, I’m getting very excited about the upcoming weeks.

As for the outside-of-work activities, I just had ten of the most fun days I’ve had since coming to Los Angeles! I had a visitor from Penn State who was here for his spring break, and since he had never been to the West Coast before, I wanted to make it the best experience for him that I could. This blog post would turn into a novel if I described all of the things that we packed into the past ten days, but here’s some: scootering from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and back, walking on the Santa Monica pier (where I was so lucky to hang out with some fellow PLAers for a bit!), going to Disneyland, hanging out in the hot tub, going to three escape rooms, visiting the Los Angeles Zoo, walking around Disney Studios, hiking Runyon Canyon, eating at a ton of different restaurants, walking around Universal CityWalk, eating meals on the balcony, singing karaoke at my favorite Mexican restaurant (what else?) and so much more. I had such an incredible time, and I feel so happy to have shared my life here in Los Angeles with someone so special to me!

I will be back soon with more to report, as always. The weather this upcoming week is supposed to be finally in the 70s and potentially the 80s, so here’s to the L.A. sun that I’ve been waiting for so long to embrace!