Growing up, Madeline Potts was “the ultimate Disney kid.” Now, she works as a talent market intelligence analyst at The Walt Disney Company.
“Disney was always a pie in the sky dream for me, and being an employee is as magical as you would expect,” Potts said. “It takes a certain personality to keep the magic alive, and Disney people are my people.”
After discovering her passion for strategic communications in high school by participating in advertising competitions, Potts started doing freelance entertainment writing and social media management.
“I just followed my heart and never looked back,” Potts said.
She attended the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno to advance her knowledge of strategic communications and learn about current trends. Potts took on internships in public affairs, marketing and editorial and completed a Disney College Program.
“The Reynolds School allowed me to do my own thing and carve out my own path,” she said. “Every one of those experiences has helped me get a job that led to a bigger, better job.”
Following her graduation in 2018, Potts found the job market more difficult to break into than she expected. She accepted the first job that was offered, which turned out to not be a good fit, and was let go after a few months.
“After being fired, I was hard on myself and spent a while freelancing while I applied to Disney internships,” Potts said. “I was rejected from every single one of the hundreds of applications I sent in.”
Eventually, her perseverance paid off when a last-minute spot opened up to be a public affairs intern for Disney, and Potts was asked to take the position. She moved across the country, from Las Vegas to Florida, two weeks later.
"Finding ideas isn't magic, it just means surrounding yourself with things you find interesting and following your curiosity."
When that internship ended, Potts was sent home and spent time connecting with professionals in the research field. After a few months, a recruiter reached out about a new internship role.
“I truly believe I got that job from my confidence in my abilities and the work I had put into understanding the industry,” she said.
Bad luck struck again when Potts’ ABC consumer insights internship ended right when the COVID-19 pandemic layoffs were beginning, and she was in search of a job once more. She decided to reach out to her ABC internship recruiter, who ended up connecting Potts with her current boss.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to always keep those connections, you never know who will be able to help you in the future,” she said.
Potts is now living in New York City and working at Disney as a talent market intelligence analyst. Her job involves finding and presenting data to company recruiters and stakeholders about potential candidates and trends. She credits her time at the Reynolds School with giving her the foundation to do the high-quality work that she does at Disney.
“Having the opportunity to practice and create real work through the Bateman Case Study Competition and Wolf Pack Relations really helped me,” Potts said.
Her advice to students who aspire to work at big companies like Disney is to intern as much as possible and explore their interests.
“I have this great note that Ira Glass wrote for me that I keep on my desk,” Potts said. “[It says,] ‘finding ideas isn't magic, it just means surrounding yourself with things you find interesting and following your curiosity.’”