We were delighted for Sophie when we heard she had been successful in securing a dream internship with the Walt Disney Company which forms part of her Degree course, Business & Management (with a year in industry). But it hadn’t all been plain sailing for Sophie, as she explained to Jo Slater, when they met for a catch up recently over Zoom.
Sophie left Trent College in 2019, having been a pupil at The Elms Junior School and Trent College since 2005 “I left Trent and at the end of the summer went straight to Aston University in Birmingham to study Business with Psychology, but I knew quickly that I didn’t like it”.
Sophie’s first year at Aston was interrupted abruptly by the Covid-19 pandemic and like so many students, she returned home to study online. “Covid gave me time to reflect on how I was feeling, to discuss with my family and space to decide what to do”.
Sophie decided that the course and the university were not the right fit for her and so made the difficult decision to drop out, with the intention of reapplying for an alternative course, in a new city, starting September 2020.
Re-connecting with Trent for support
“I couldn’t remember how to apply through UCAS, so I contacted the Alumni Office to ask for Mrs Starbuck’s [Head of Careers] contact details and reached out for help”.
“It was a scary decision to change university, but I am so pleased that I made that decision, particularly with the support and guidance of Mrs Starbuck”.
Sophie applied to the University of Liverpool to study Business and Management, with a year in industry, which is a four-year course. “I already had some friends in Liverpool and that made a big difference to me, knowing that I would have friends there. I am even housemates now with one of my Trent friends, Mia, which is really nice.”
Sophie is now coming to the end of her second year and is ‘loving life’ in Liverpool. Towards the end of 2021 she started to think about applying for internships, to fulfil the year in industry placement she would need for her third year.
Sophie had an interview with Aldi’s head office lined up, which she told us her Dad was keen for her to pursue. “It was my first main interview, but it went really badly. I had every technical difficulty going. I knew I hadn’t been successful, but it was good practice nonetheless”.
Maximising the Old Trident network
Inspired by Old Trident Hannah (class of 2014), Sophie wanted to explore applying for an internship at the Walt Disney Company, where Hannah had spent a year in 2017/18. “I knew Hannah through mutual friends and so I sent her a message to ask if she had any advice about applying to Disney. She sent lots of information and recommended applying early.”
So, in November, Sophie put together her application and after what seemed like a long time of waiting, she received a telephone call with an offer to interview for a role in content planning for the Disney Plus channel. Sophie got to the final stages of the interview process “I had to do a presentation about how I would market a new show and also what I like about the channel and what I would change about it”. Disney called Sophie a few days later to tell her that unfortunately she hadn’t been successful. Disappointed but not disheartened, Sophie was thrilled when just a few days later she was offered another interview.
“I had put so much effort in and tried my absolute best. They had told me that they were impressed with my interview and would put me forward for other internship roles.”
“I thought they were saying that to be nice, but then I received a call from a different Disney department!”
Sophie had been recommended to the Sales team by the Disney Plus team and was offered an informal interview for a role available in Sales Licensing, coincidentally the same role Hannah had started her internship with back in 2017.
The interview, which it turned out was more a formality in the recruitment process, was scheduled for the next day. “Although they explained it would be an informal interview, I turned up to the zoom call dressed quite formally as I wanted to give a good impression.” Sophie continued, “It was a really nice interview, chatting to them, I felt like I was getting to know them. There were some meaningful interview questions, but it felt like getting to know new friends. It was unexpected, unlike the other recruitment process. I didn’t want to be too informal, but I felt that instantly we all had a connection.”
Sophie has a sunny personality and a naturally positive outlook on life, despite having suffered enormous loss when aged 14 her Mum passed away, just a few weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
An exciting new chapter
“I am really looking forward to moving to London to start the internship. We all got on so well on the call, laughing through the whole interview. This really made me feel at ease and I am looking forward to meeting them in person, in June.”
Sophie explained to us that doing a degree with a placement year is important to her, to help identify what direction she would like to pursue in a career. “Disney have told me that I can have the opportunity to explore other areas of the company. I don’t know what I want to do after university, so I want to use my placement year to show me what I am interested in and also, what I don’t want to do, as there is a huge diversity of jobs within the Company”.
“Starting the internship and making connections and networking will open doors to a potential future career path. I am really excited to expand my network in London. Communication skills are important to me, and I think the opportunities will be endless. I am really excited”.
Sophie has experienced success with networking, by undertaking fundraising activities with her Dad Colin and brother Charlie (class of 2018) when in 2018 they hosted a large charity ball in memory of Sophie and Charlie’s Mum, Tracy. “It was a really nice feeling to be able to do that, as a family, for such a good cause. It was a great night and a nice memorial for Mum too”.
Sophie and her family continue to fundraise and have raised over £100,000 for Cancer Research. “The loss gives us great motivation; it plays a massive part in what we do in our fundraising”.
Being at university and speaking with students who have been through similar experiences, Sophie told us, has been of enormous help to her in coming to terms with and being able to talk about the grief. “People say that with time, loss is so much easier to talk about and actually, now 6 years on, I will talk to anyone about my experience and the fundraising gives me a reason to do this. At the time I couldn’t even speak to anyone about it. I feel like the fundraising has really helped me to process it all and get to the point I am at now.”
“I even mentioned it in my interview, as Disney employees get involved in fundraising and I told them this is something that I would like to volunteer for”.
Advice for others
So, going back to the start of our conversation, and the difficult decision Sophie made during her first year at university, we asked her if she could share a message with students starting out on their university pathway, what would it be?
“So much emphasis is put on going to university, and that’s great, but it doesn’t always work out the way you expect. It threw me off massively to start with especially when I realised, I had chosen the wrong university for me. But I remembered back to when I was at Trent, in Sixth Form, we had a talk from Old Tridents and one spoke about how they had changed their course, and that it hadn’t been smooth sailing, but with support and guidance they made the right choice for them, and that really stuck with me.”
“I felt like it took the pressure off because someone else, who had had the same school experience as me, had talked about going through that difficult time and it helped give me the confidence to say that I wanted to change and explore my options”.
The Trent College Careers Department is available for students beyond their time at the school and Old Tridents are welcome to get in touch for any help or guidance they might need whether it be for advice, help with university or job applications.