As our trip comes to a close it is hard not to reflect how amazing these last 5 weeks have been. Going on study abroad can be a frightening experience, one day you are in the comfort of your familiar apartment in East Lansing and the next week you are in a foreign country with 20 other strangers.
The leap into the unknown is frightening, but let me be the first to tell you it is worth it. This program has taken me places I would have never gotten to see. In 35 days, we have visited 4 different countries, met with 30 plus professionals and have made memories that will never be forgotten.
Our schedule took us to London twice. We got to stay at one of the most beautiful campuses, Regents University; the school is located inside Regents Park, one of London’s most famous. Staying at Regents reminded me how faraway we were from our own campus but also how far each of us has come to get here.
My favorite day of the program was right here in London, the day we got to meet Josh Berger and take a tour of the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Experience. It is not every day you get to meet someone who runs 4 different sectors of one of the most well known companies in the world.
To preface, my dream has always been to hold a CEO or President position of a company. Since I was a little girl I have had a fire in my belly to be a leader, manage and create something awesome. When Josh entered the room, I was absolutely star struck. I could not wipe the smile off my face. Josh brought a certain aura into the room with him, one that I want to work towards having someday. He was personable and humble all while being confident and powerful.
Josh began his talk with us by explaining his background. He began his career working in the mailroom of the William Morris agency. In 1989, he began attending Harvard and completed the advanced management program at Harvard business school. Josh joined Warner Brothers that year as a sales executive, he quickly moved up the ranks to managing director and relocated to London to become the Vice President of Business development in 1996.
Josh is now the President and Managing Director for Warner Brothers UK, Ireland and Spain. On top of that he sits on the board of the UK Film Council, Climate Change Organization and is a member of countless associations including the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the British Screen Advisory Council Young Presidents’ Organization and is the Vice President of the American Friends of the Chicken Shed Theatre Company as well as a Trustee for the Institute for Children. Josh emphasized the mantra “family first” and makes time in his busy schedule to coach his sons little league baseball team.
My head spins trying to understand how Josh carves out time for all of these responsibilities and how he exceeds in every one of them. During our time with him, Josh gave us a lot of great advice. He talked about how useful it was learning a foreign language and how it has been crucial in his career over seas. Josh emphasized the importance of traveling, explaining that it was essential because it gives you the chance to step back and open your eyes. He made another interesting point discussing unpaid internships, how they “suck” but ultimately pay off the most by getting you the most hands on experience. One of our trip directors, Joe, asked many questions about the future of technology and which way Internet streaming has pushed the film industry. Josh answered with the quote “we are storytellers”; he explained that if you do your job right as an industry there should be no issue.
It was finally our turn to ask questions and I knew I had to take advantage of the moment. Joe asked “Does anyone have any questions?” and I flung my hand up as fast as possible. I got picked and instantly became nervous when I noticed the President of Warner Brothers was giving me his full attention. I asked the question “What advice would you give your twenty year old self?” Josh gave a very inspiring answer saying “Just go with it and do what you love, I am not a great sailor but when the wind blows in different directions you have to know when to adjust your sails.” He gave us outstanding advice and made it clear that at our age we need to try different things and figure out what we are passionate about, “the hardest workers stand out because the cream rises to the top” He ended with the statement “Be hungry, be savvy and figure out who you need to stand out to.”
Our group was lucky enough to meet professionals from every sector of the media industry, from producers at ITV and music producer from Abbey Road Studios, all the way to a storyteller. Every single professional we encountered shared the same few bits of advice: work hard, go the extra mile to stand out and do what you are passionate about because if you don’t, it will be ten times harder to succeed in your career.
My goal is to someday be in the same position as the professionals we have met with during our time in the United Kingdom. I want to have an established career and be able to share my experiences and offer the same advice to students, give back and help the next generation like the last has helped us.
This trip has taught me that sometimes experience teaches you far more than any textbook. Getting on and off the tube, proper etiquette during meetings, trying new foods and wandering around cities you have never even heard of pushes you out of your comfort zone…but isn’t that how you become a well-rounded person? I am so thankful for every bit of this experience. The advice we received, the friends I have made and the memories will last a lifetime.