"While I’d like to say I’m decent at what I do, I would have never gotten the chance to try something so wildly out of my area of focus if I hadn’t been working my network and asking EVERYONE for informational
interviews. Start building your network at COC. Learn how to talk up your skills."
My career roadmap has been all over the place.
2010- Started as a research intern my freshman year at
Davis (Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine - focused on
stereological techniques to study the proliferation of pyramidal cells and
glial cells through the cortical areas during embryonic development in mice and its correlation to behavior similar to autism in humans.) In my
two years here, I learned research wasn’t for me.
2013- Took my chances on my first communications role as
a public affairs intern at GE in Washington, DC, while preparing to take the
LSAT. I was exploring a path in IP/Patent law in the life sciences, or public
health policy. The internship piqued my interest in comms. I took the LSAT
and scored well, but had already decided against pursuing law school by
2014 - Gained acceptance into GE’s communications
leadership development program, a two-year rotational program designed
to accelerate my comms career. Held several comms roles within GE’s
global research & development arm and gained global experience.
Interfaced daily with researchers and engineers and used my degree to
help translate their work into consumer-friendly communications.
2016- Completed the program and took a permanent role as
a media relations lead for GE’s software division in the Bay Area.
Continued to travel and work globally and helped stand up a $6B P&L.
Began to find a sweet spot in tech corporate comms and events.
2017- Chose to move back to LA and worked remotely with
GE for 6 months, until my role was made redundant. GE went through
significant downsizing and this layoff was one of the defining moments in
2018 - Took a role as an account manager at a PR agency
(note - most comms professionals begin their career at an agency as
opposed to coming from in-house.) Was presented leadership roles on
key tech and corporate accounts including Google and UL.
2019 - Made the leap back in-house and landed my current
role as the manager of public affairs for Disney’s consumer products,
games and publishing division.
Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway
DURING MY HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
Dance (at Valencia before AOC, then with COC’s dance company, and outside competition teams - when I wasn't studying or working, I was dancing)
Gymnastics coaching in evenings and on weekends
Debate club (at Valencia before AOC)
National Honor Society (Valencia and AOC)
ASB (Valencia only)
DURING MY COLLEGE CAREER
UC Davis Campus Judicial Board
Autism Awareness Association
Delta Delta Delta sorority (the sorority introduced me to both aforementioned groups and helped me obtain my first internship!)
What I'm currently doing/hope to do
I am a strategic corporate communications professional with a background in science and research, telling the stories of brands and leaders who are changing the world. Currently, I
manage public affairs for Disney’s consumer products, games and publishing businesses,
working across the Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Fox and Nat Geo brands. My scope includes reputation and issues management, crisis comms, product development reviews, talent vetting, and media coverage analysis and reporting for all of Disney’s iconic brands. Most
recently, I’ve been busy overseeing the COVID-19 response in our retail operations and have a
strong hand in Disney’s diversity and inclusion programs. While I’ve taken a non-traditional path to arrive at my current role, my studies and background have proven useful in interfacing with tech and engineering executives with an analytical style. I’ve been able to implement data-driven processes in my “creative” field, and have been quick to adapt to new industries. My current role marries problem solving and risk assessment with
writing and creativity -- and I hope to grow here long term.
How to maximize my time in high school?
Advice #1: Network! While I’d like to say I’m decent at what I do, I would have never gotten the chance to try something so wildly out of my area of focus if I hadn’t been working my network and asking EVERYONE for informational interviews. Start building your network at COC. Learn how to talk up your skills. Yes, this includes soft skills. There will always be someone better than you in your field, so find your differentiator and A/B test it as you network!
Advice #2: Try new things: I didn’t stick to a path at AOC nor did I have extracurriculars that were tied to STEM - I relied on my grades and test scores to gain admittance into UC Davis. It worked for me and I was able to pull soft skills from my non-academic activities, but I would recommend trying your hand at more technical activities before university as much as possible. It looks like this is woven into the programming at AOC now, so this is likely useless advice from An oldie like me :)
Advice #3: Retake the entry level math/science courses: Fully aware this is controversial, take with a grain of salt - one of the great aspects of COC is getting to transfer classes and avoid having to take the foundational STEM courses once in college. However, depending on you and your style, I would recommend “retaking” (or just not bypassing) some of the courses in areas you might be weaker. Worst case, you nail an easy A in a 5 unit course and buffer yourself for ochem. Purely anecdotal evidence: I chose to “retake” the first in my calc and chem series when I could have jumped right into more advanced courses -- not only did it help make the college transition a little easier, it helped solidify my skills before I got to upper div courses.
Advice #4: Never stop reading: Again, an obvious one for AOC students. But if you end up going a non-traditional route like I did, it’s helpful to keep up-to-date on your original skills as long as you’re still using them as a foundation in your career. My background (surprisingly) comes up quite often, and it would be awful to be caught flat-footed when an exec asks me how PCR works after seeing it in recent COVID coverage.
Advice #5: No one in the corporate world will ask you what your GPA was: This obviously does not apply to you if you are pursuing any kind of grad school. But now that even college degrees are seen as less important than experience in the professional world, it’s important to understand that no senior executive will ask about your GPA. I know none of my direct reports’ GPAs. I think I remember one of their majors. I know their attitudes, skill sets, learning styles, and the work they produce -- that’s what matters.