What has the CMC ever done for me? From BA to Ball Pit
Bethan Cook was a volunteer at CMC 2017, who won the Disney competition to visit for a day.
During the summer of 2017, my second year working towards a BA (Hons) Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University was coming to a close. Only one year to go before it’s all over! As I was soaking up the sun and enjoying my last summer of freedom, it suddenly dawned on me…what do I want to go in to after I graduate? I’d had plenty of work experience, but the career opportunities when studying journalism is so vast – do I want to work in marketing or television? Social media or web?
Communications or film? The opportunities were endless, however I still didn’t have a clue what I wanted. I put on my thinking cap and got to work – what can I do this summer to try and buck up my ideas, and figure out what I want to specialise in? And so, my summer plans spontaneously changed…my application to volunteer at the Children’s Media Conference was accepted, and my plan to get more of an insight into a career within the field of media was a “go”.
As my dissertation revolved around gender studies, film studies and childhood studies, I was keen to learn a little whilst I was attending the CMC. I arrived in Sheffield and was excited to see what the three-day conference would bring. I met with the volunteer co-ordinator, Claire (right), and was invited to join the blogging team as a result of my previous experience writing for a local magazine. Great, I thought. Little did I know that the next day, I would sit at the blogging desk alongside established academics and authors! Although I was a tad apprehensive at first, I quickly found my feet and was writing like there was no tomorrow. Over the course of my time at the CMC, I attended various seminars, workshops and keynotes to aid in my blog writing. I learned a lot about a host of things that were alien to me – virtual reality, business finance, and marketing to children. Looking back, these enjoyable, new experiences helped shape a lot of thought when writing my dissertation.
Along with challenging myself, making friends and spending time in a new city, another reason I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the CMC is because I was lucky enough to meet and chat with various employees within the Walt Disney Company. Talking all things career opportunities, academic interests and future plans, I couldn’t have met a friendlier group of people. Upon finding out about the Once Upon a Day Disney Mentorship Programme, I was immediately interested. All CMC student volunteers were encouraged to apply for a chance to spend a day in The Walt Disney Company’s HQ at Hammersmith, meeting key department executives. I wrote 500 words on why I wanted to be mentored by the Disney team, and sent off my application. Reading through the terms of the programme, I learned that ten entries were to be shortlisted, and two Disney senior executives were to judge the final two entries, and choose a winner. Every day at lunch with the volunteers, there was such a buzz around this mentorship programme. I vividly recall a Master’s Degree student talking about applying and how much experience he had – I haven’t a chance, I thought.
The day I received the congratulatory email to say I’d been picked still stands out in my memory. I was chosen out of all those people! I was over the moon, and extremely keen to pencil in a date. The Disney team and myself decided on a mutually do-able date, and it was all set. Off to Hammersmith I go…
From the moment I stepped inside the office to the moment I left, I was treated like a true Disney princess (pardon the pun). I have to also take this opportunity to thank Communications Manager Melissa Herman for my incredible time there, and for being so accommodating. I had an action-packed day speaking to senior executives within the following departments:
- Disney Channels Programming
- Disney Retail
- Disney Franchise
- Disney Channels Original Production
- PR & Communications
- Disney Music Group
- Disney Interactive
Had I not volunteered at the CMC, I wouldn’t have been presented with this incredible opportunity. Having the chance to ask anything and everything to the experts within the field at Disney was amazing. Despite having decades of experience, each individual was more than happy to chat and answer any questions about what a typical day in that specific department entails. I learned little snippets of information about specific departments that you can’t just search on the Internet. I can definitely say that I learned key information from the best out there. Had I not experienced that once-in-a-lifetime day, I don’t think I’d be where I am now.
My day at Disney really benefited me when choosing a career path. I was able to think back at what department I thought I was most interested in, most comfortable in, most talented in, but also most challenged in. I am now proud to say that I am working within the PR & Social Media departments at Wales’ number one independent advertising agency, S3 Advertising. With a ball pit, hammocks, a crazy golf course, a bar, and the most talented bunch of people, it’s a truly wonderful place to work. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to CMC and The Walt Disney Company for helping me find my feet and choose where to settle in an incredibly competitive industry.