Every so often, we’ll be spotlighting alumni and what they are up to these days. These Q&A sessions will give you a bit of insight into where the world has taken them since graduation.
This week, the spotlight is on Colin Sommer (BA/Public Relations and Advertising ’14).
DODGE: Share your career path with us – how did you get where you are now?
COLIN: I started working at Disneyland while finishing my sophomore year at Chapman, and was having the time of my life. By the time I had finished my tenure at the Resort, I was working as a skipper on Jungle Cruise, an archeologist at Indiana Jones Adventure, and a conductor on the Disneyland Railroad. Toward the beginning of my senior year, I was approached by a recruiter and was told that Disney Interactive up in Los Angeles was looking for an intern, and that I was a fantastic fit. By April of that year, I was officially hired on board as a social media strategist working on the company’s official franchise, film, and character pages.
Since then, I’ve been in a few hybrid roles working on a ton of different digital campaigns, collaborating with our ad sales team, and now I’m focusing on content and audience insights and analytics. I’m essentially looking at the content we’re creating across our social media handles and Disney.com and figuring out what’s working, why it’s working, and who is consuming it. It’s an incredibly data-heavy role; as a PR/Ad major it’s a completely different world than where I thought I’d be. I learn so much everyday and am so thankful for the opportunity. I’ve taken an interesting path but it’s been nothing short of exciting. I still love every minute of it.
DODGE: Did you face any challenges in your transition from being a student at Dodge to entering the professional world?
COLIN: I’ve always loved the unknown, but I think the biggest challenge was not knowing for certain where I would end up after graduation. Of course, since then, I’ve realized that things always work out as long as you’re flexible and keep an open mind. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote, but if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. I try to remind myself of that.
DODGE: What have you taken from the classroom and applied to your career?
COLIN: Two classes in particular have translated into “real world” skills: Writing for PR with Veston Rowe and Entertainment Marketing with Dawn Taubin. No matter what profession you go into, quality writing and presentation skills will always be critical components of your personal and professional development — I hate to think where I would be without those two remarkable people in my life.
DODGE: What skills do you believe have been essential to your profession?
COLIN: Without a doubt, confidence. It’s so easy to feel alone, scared, and confused, but I’d like to point out the fact that no one knows actually what they’re doing in life. There’s not a secret manual with all the answers, so base your life decisions off of what you feel is right (chances are, you’re correct.)
DODGE: What is the best advice you have received and/or what advice would you give current students?
COLIN: Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Take much-deserved recognition in stride but don’t let ego get to you. At the end of the day, you’re the only person looking out for your career and personal growth. Most importantly, work hard and be nice to everyone.
I made the decision to enroll in a graduate program shortly after finishing my undergraduate degree at Chapman. I just finished this past spring. While it was a fantastic opportunity, I want to underline the difficulty of working full-time and going to school concurrently. If you’re ever going to work and enroll in school at the same time, I highly recommend getting it done while you’re still young and fresh into the workforce. Don’t get comfortable and always challenge yourself to do more. It’ll always pay off in the end!
Thanks so much for sharing, Colin!