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Kean University

Communication Students Learn About Media Careers Through Disney Behind the Screens

Group of students of diverse backgrounds standing with beside a woman in a pink dress, heels, short hair

A group of Kean University communication students networked with top professionals in the entertainment industry and got a behind-the-scenes view of broadcast television production as part of the Disney Behind the Screens program. 

Twenty-five undergraduate and graduate students from Kean’s Department of Communication, Media and Journalism (CMJ) participated in a six-part virtual series in which professionals talked about their work in different areas of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution. The students received career advice, and in a highlight of the program, visited ABC Studios in New York City on Tuesday, March 19 to learn about network television careers. They toured the facility, attended a networking event, and were part of a taping of the Tamron Hall Show

Dayana Velasco, of Piscataway, a Kean graduate student who also interned with the Disney College Program, said it was one of the best networking opportunities she has had.

“I gained so much knowledge about The Walt Disney Company, the entertainment industry, and how to make myself a strong candidate for any role I plan to pursue,” she said.

This is the second time that Kean CMJ has partnered with Disney/ABC Behind the Screens. Associate Professor Brian Oakes said Kean was the only University invited to visit the studio.

“We are very fortunate that Disney has chosen to return to Kean,” said Oakes. “It’s really a fantastic experiential learning opportunity for our students. They get to interact with a variety of professionals at Disney and see firsthand how a television show is produced.” 

Riley Pond of Clifton, a graduate communication student who hopes to work in public relations in the future, described her experience as “spectacular.”

“I have always wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes at Disney. My dad and I constantly watch programs like The Imagineering Story on Disney+ because we share the same curiosity,” she said. “I still cannot believe how much technology is involved, how many wires there are hidden in the walls, the number of TV screens, and the thousands of keyboard keys, each with buttons with a special purpose.” 

Disney Behind the Screens engages, educates and empowers diverse students to enter the workforce and achieve their career aspirations, according to company materials about the program. It exposes students to specialized areas of network television and educates them on varied careers in sales, entertainment marketing, programming, ESPN, production, news and network operations.

Yahnay Coursey, a senior from Edgewater Park studying media and film, joined the program to get experience to help her launch her career after graduation in May.

“This program exposed me to different jobs in the industry and helped better prepare me for my future career," she said. "Overall, I'm really glad I was a part of it.”

Jennifer Brooks, CMJ managing assistant director who coordinated the program with Oakes, said the students learned about the industry through multiple lenses. 

“Disney/ABC Studios have gone out of their way to create an interactive and engaging experiential opportunity for our students,” Brooks said. “Every area was covered; so many students discovered a segment or niche they might not have considered before. We plan to partner with them again and are happy to partner with anyone willing to share their time and talents with the next generation.”