USC Annenberg Bay Area Maymester Week #1

I am so grateful to share that I was chosen along with 17 other outstanding USC Annenberg Students to attend the Bay Area Maymester. The Bay Area Maymester is an opportunity for students from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism to spend two weeks in San Francisco and have the opportunity visit 16 different companies ranging from big-name social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to Public Relation Agencies to Venture Capitalist firms. During this week, we also attend three alumni events where students can connect with USC alumni from places like Google, Apple, or Facebook to name a few. I feel so lucky to be one of the two Journalism students selected to come and explore the best technology companies in Silicon Valley. In the first week, we had incredible experiences learning from Pixar Animation Studios, Aspect Ventures, Salesforce, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Pac-12 Networks, Impossible Foods, Facebook, Instagram, W2O Group and BBDO San Francisco. The common thread contributing to the immense success of these companies is their shared values of creativity, collaboration, and innovation that have resonated with me as I decide on my career path. In this first week, I had three companies that stood out to me as a place where I would love to work.

My experience at Pixar Animation Studios felt like a dream. As our first company visit, Pixar blew the entire cohort away. We explored the company and had a Q & A with Michael Agulnek, VP of Worldwide Publicity, Elyse Klaidman, Director of Archives & Exhibitions, and Shannon Nicosia, Director of Marketing. We spoke to some of the big players in this company who were so happy to answer our burning questions about their careers, their current positions, and the company culture. After the Q & A, we toured the Studio and learned the history of how the animated films are produced within about a four-year span of time. Visiting the Animator offices was a massive highlight of the day. Some offices looked like a jungle cave, some like barns, and some like a Tiki bar. These animators get the chance to design their office however they want to enhance their creative prowess, and their designs do not disappoint. Getting the opportunity to view the first 23 minutes of The Incredibles and the new Pixar short film Bao was such a privilege. As a journalism major, the power of art and storytelling Pixar utilized genuinely resounded with me as I saw how the skills I have could be used in this company.

The company visit to LinkedIn was my absolute favorite one. This visit started with a Rock Your Profile Session with Steven Kearns, a USC Annenberg Alumni, who shared with us all the best tips and tricks for ensuring your LinkedIn profile makes you stand out to potential employers. Then, we spoke to a panel from LinkedIn that included a Talent Acquisition Rep, a Sales Dev Rep, a Business Leadership Program Rep, and a Marketing Rep. These fantastic young people graduated from incredible colleges such as USC, UCLA, and Cal Berkeley. Seeing recent college graduates climb in this tech company so quickly was inspiring for me. This visit impacted my career so acutely because these representatives shared that they had all started their careers by working in the entertainment industry, but soon decided to work for tech companies as they realized that a collaborative, disruptive, innovative environment was much better suited for them. As someone with the initial desire to work in the entertainment industry, I was so grateful for their insight. I realized that collaboration and happy company culture are two aspects of a career essential for me.

BBDO San Francisco was such a great visit. USC Annenberg had the opportunity to speak to the CEO Jim Lesser and hear his presentation on the company. I have never thought about working for an advertising agency before, but after this visit, I could see myself fitting in quite comfortably. BBDO is a company that understands that consumers make emotional decisions and in turn creates commercials that work to both sell the product and makes a social impact. Their most popular advertisements are for companies like Barbie, Wells Fargo, Snickers, and Proctor & Gamble. The social issues, ranging from body image to school shooting awareness to #TheTalk, are matched so seamlessly with the promotion of the product. In this visit, I have reaffirmed that my Journalism major was the correct choice as the marketable skills I learn to enhance storytelling are so versatile and applicable to many jobs. My digital studies minor will be impactful in my career as I will learn how to create digital narratives in so many forms.

I am excited to see what discoveries and opportunities I will find in week #2 of this incredible trip!

Stay tuned for my next post.

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