Shachi Banthia, a third year BSc Management with intercalated year student, is currently working as a Commercial Development Intern at Disney in London. In this blog Shachi speaks about her role at Disney, why she decided to take an intercalated year and how the WBS Careers team helped her.
I started my journey at Warwick as a BSc Management student. I was unsure whether I should study or work abroad for my third year and therefore I decided to book an appointment with the WBS Careers team. I was guided by them to take an intercalated year and work within the UK. The team advised me that it would be best to do that for the following reasons:
- After graduation, I want to work and stay in the UK. Doing my placement year in the UK was a better opportunity as the network I would build and the understanding of the work culture I would develop could help me get a head start for a graduate role.
- Being an international student from India, I can already show employers that I am flexible and can adapt to a new country and its culture.
As I entered my second year, I made a list of opportunities that seemed to align with my interests. Based on my prior work experience and academic knowledge, I was quite convinced on pursuing a customer facing role in either sales or marketing. However, I had limited knowledge of different industries and therefore decided to keep my options open by applying to many different businesses like consultancies, FMCGs, automobile and media companies.
I applied to Disney for a role in Marketing with a CV and a cover letter, for which my application was unfortunately unsuccessful. However, I was fortunate enough for my application to be passed on to another department. The great thing about Disney is that if they feel you would be more suited to another area they will pass on your application, which increases your chances of getting an interview!
In early January, I received a call from the DisneyLife department, asking if I would be interested in having a telephone interview for a Commercial Development role. At the time I was unaware of what the Commercial role would entail, however, I wanted to give it a go. Disney is a well recognised organisation and at WBS I was always told to make the most of the opportunities that arise. As this was for a role that I had not originally applied for, I took the opportunity within the phone interview to ask about the role and the department, both of which seemed very exciting.
I got through to the next round which involved an interview in-person and a range of tests, which I had been informed of beforehand. Three days after visiting the Disney offices, I received a feedback call and I was given a 12-month placement offer, which I accepted on the spot!
During the past 11 months, I have learnt so much about the Disney brand and what happens on the inside to make it one of the best in the world. I have had the chance to leverage my theoretical knowledge gained throughout my studies at WBS. One of the modules that was particularly useful was Quantitative Methods for Management from first year; it really helped me to understand basic statistical concepts and how to approach them on Excel. While I was working on business cases and evaluating the impact of a price change, everything I learnt on this module was truly invaluable! Moreover, through exposure to the different business functions and the variety of work that I have been involved in, I have had the chance to explore my working style and make informed decisions about the role I want to pursue upon graduation.
In the first six months of my internship, I had a lot of exposure conducting promotions and partnerships with a range of well-known companies to increase brand awareness. This involved a lot of cross-functional responsibilities as I worked closely with the marketing, creative and finance functions of the business. However, the most exciting part of this role was witnessing the start of the campaigns and analysing the results to benchmark best practices and learn for the future. Therefore, I was still doing a lot of work which involved marketing, the area that I originally applied for. Since then I’ve been supporting the growth strategy by developing pricing benchmarks, conducting competitor analysis and evaluating the business proposition. This part of the work has been extremely empowering and we even shared some of our results with the senior management team which was a great experience.
My current role involves a lot of desk research and presenting the analysis and evaluation through PowerPoint presentations. The research skills and the ability to analyse and structure information, which I have developed through writing essays for many of my WBS modules, has helped me gain a solid foundation for approaching projects at work.
However, I must caveat that when I first began I had very little knowledge of the industry and the role. The team has always encouraged me to ask questions and have patiently explained the basics of every topic before any meeting to make sure I follow the discussions thereafter. It is only because of the supportive and collaborative culture at Disney that I have had such a great experience and have been able to learn so much.
It’s also not all work at Disney - the place is truly magical! I‘ve had the chance to be involved in volunteering where I assisted with Jedi training sessions for children, took a picture in our in-house Millennium Falcon, played golf on our team building day and danced the night away at the Winter Ball that was exclusively for interns - after all there are 100 of us!
I am particularly grateful to the WBS Careers team for giving me advice and valuable feedback to improve my CV and to tailor my cover letter effectively. I attended a 3-hour assessment centre simulation workshop where I participated in group discussions and e-tray exercises and received personalised feedback on my performance during the day.
Although the application process can be stressful, I can assure you that work experience can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life and will give you a significant competitive edge in graduate applications. To anyone looking for a work placement at the moment, remember to seize every opportunity that comes your way, even if it is something that you have not planned for yourself. You never know where it could lead you!
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