Through the Princeternship program I had the privilege of shadowing Bryce Gama, a director of Business Strategy at The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN. From the outset Bryce was extremely warm and informative. He welcomed me to join him in several meetings, providing background information as needed and carefully explaining answers to each of my questions. Throughout the day I was introduced to many of Bryce’s coworkers, who generously discussed why they find their jobs fulfilling. My learning during the experience was qualitatively unique in that I gained information that cannot simply be found on a website. By spending time in Bryce’s office environment I witnessed the idiosyncratic atmosphere of The Walt Disney Company. Thus, by exposing students to open professionals in their everyday workspace, the Princeternship program provides a phenomenal opportunity for Princeton undergraduates to learn about a career they hope to pursue.
As soon as I had handed in my last final exam, I made my way into New York City for a very different kind of experience. For my Princeternship, I shadowed Bryce Gama, an economics major and member of the class of 2001 who is now a Senior Director of Business Strategy at ESPN. As soon as I passed through the large double doors of the ABC building I was confronted on every turn of the hallway with a logo—either of a network, TV show, or other media product that I was familiar with. It was this familiarity with the product that was especially exciting for me as I prepared myself for the day’s meetings.
Meetings—this is probably the word I would use that most aptly describes Bryce’s work as I followed him. It is through these numerous meetings that Bryce, as part of a team, negotiates agreements and advises the sales force on decisions regarding digital assets, cable, and satellite space. While there is less of a direct focus on athletics that one would assume comes with a job at ESPN, the job was still very exciting in that the decisions his team makes have an important effect on media consumers, a group in which I consider myself an avid member.
In the first meeting I attended, Bryce and his team were discussing the status of a new product. While the specifics of the meeting must remain confidential, Bryce and his colleagues in Affiliate Sales and Marketing did not hesitate to involve me in all parts of the discussion. The next meeting, which focused on information that was considerably less sensitive, consisted of Bryce and fellow team members analyzing how changes to the extension of the company’s deal with Comcast triggered changes to other accounts. What I noticed in the meeting was how everyone in the office had a clear passion for their work that made for an office culture that was friendly, inviting, and overall highly enjoyable.
Next, I accompanied Bryce and two other colleagues to lunch. We compared our experiences at Princeton as I picked his brain about his path to his current work. Both he and his colleagues shared invaluable advice about pursuing opportunities in sales and marketing and in particular stressed the importance of maintaining a passion for what you do. I came to see how this passion translates directly into a positive work environment. What struck me as especially refreshing in this particular experience was that Bryce and his colleagues merged hard work with laughter, and although their team was relatively young in years, they took on responsibilities and made extremely important strategic decisions involving ESPN’s media assets. Again, I cannot speak directly about much of the proposed strategy I witnessed within the office, but I can stress that I was able to learn a lot about the specifics involved in making network bids and solidifying network deals.
Overall, the Princeternship was a highly enjoyable experience. It provided an invaluable glimpse into a line of work involving marketing strategy and media assets that I would have had no access to otherwise. I especially welcomed the numerous conversations I had with different colleagues within the office about how to utilize my liberal arts degree and different ways in which I might explore my own potential career path. Now, each and every time I turn on SportsCenter or check the ESPN app on my phone I’ll think back to my Princeternship experience and consider the business strategy involved in making it possible for me to access information on my beloved Boston sports teams from anywhere.