Ashley Schoenfeld felt nervous as she prepared to leave for Florence for her study abroad program. She’d applied for a prestigious internship with Disney Streaming Services and hoped to hear back before leaving the country. She was entering her junior year of college and knew how vital internships could be in finding the right career after graduation.
“I knew a lot of internships people got junior year were ones that after their internship they’d have full-time jobs. I was very interested and determined to find that,” says Schoenfeld.
Ashley Schoenfeld ’21
Schoenfeld had first heard about the Disney opportunity from an iSchool alum, who posted it to LinkedIn. She was excited to see that she had many of the qualifications and related experiences Disney was looking for and decided to apply. But as the days approached for her to leave, she began to lose hope.
Then Schoenfeld got the email she was waiting for. She interviewed with the recruiter and two weeks later was offered an internship with Disney Streaming Services. Her role included working with the responsive web QA team and software engineers to ensure overall reliability and quality user experience. She worked on functional testing on marketing landing pages across different Disney Plus environments, and ensured success criteria were met. She also executed and wrote test scripts for new Disney Plus features and launched the Premier Access and Group Watch feature.
Schoenfeld enjoyed her internship with Disney Streaming Services and was excited when she was offered an extension into the next semester. She completed another semester working in quality assurance, and at the end of her second internship, Disney Streaming Services offered her a full-time role as a Quality Assurance Analyst.
Arthur P. Thomas, Associate Dean for Career Services and Experiential Learning, worked with Schoenfeld on her honors thesis and credits her hard work and dedication for landing a permanent role with Disney.
“She’s received a lot of good feedback from her supervisors at Disney. She’s really done a good job, and that alone is always a point of celebration,” says Thomas. “She’s a great mix of being able to take this global view and then take it apart and narrow down and drill down into, ‘Okay, exactly what do I need to do to make this work?’ And when you think about getting things done in an organization, that’s exactly how it’s done. You need to be able to manage in context, but at the same time, you need to be able to focus and get something accomplished. And from what she says, her reaction at work is that people enjoy working with her because she not only understands what they’re doing, what’s going on around her, and why it’s important but also she can focus on the detail and make sure that it gets done well.”
Schoenfeld’s project management skills and attention to detail are skills Thomas observed since he began working with her as a faculty advisor to develop her thesis for the honors program.
“I found her to be one of the most studious types,” says Thomas. “She would take notes very thoroughly during our conversations. And then she looked up, and she was like, ‘Okay. So, based on that, then I have another question.’ It’s like every professor’s joy to see a student who is so engrossed that they just want to capture every single word.”
In Thomas’s eyes, Schoenfeld was made for a project management role and was an excellent fit for the iSchool program. But Schoenfeld didn’t know how well she’d fit into the iSchool until later in her college career. When Schoenfeld originally applied to Syracuse, she applied to be in the Whitman School of Management. Like many first-year students, she wasn’t sure of her plans and felt a business degree would be a safe route. During her first semester, she took a course at the iSchool, not knowing what to expect.
“I just fell in love with everything the iSchool had to offer,” says Schoenfeld. “I never really knew what the iSchool was until I was in it. Everyone was just so helpful and so creative, and I just loved the environment of it.”
She decided to switch her major to Information Management and Technology at the iSchool with a concentration in data analytics and a minor at Whitman. Schoenfeld says this new direction felt like the perfect way to implement business with technology and communication skills. And with each class, Schoenfeld says she fell in love with the well-rounded education she was receiving.
“I know it sounds dramatic, but it was just like a whole new grouping of things that I never even thought about,” says Schoenfeld. “One of the classes that changed everything for me was the information reporting and presenting. I had it with Chris Perrello, and I just thought the course taught me so many things I never realized college would teach you. We learned about working on fixing your resume and how to do interviews and all this career growth stuff that I’ve never really known how to do before. And then, I created a strong relationship with Chris Perrello, and he has just helped me through every aspect of being in the iSchool. He helped me get both of my internships and helped me stay connected to people and how to show yourself off in a way that is applicable to recruiters. I just really was amazed that this school taught you this.”
The people and the skills Schoenfeld learned at the iSchool are what she credits for her success so far. She’s proud of the work she’s done with Disney Streaming Services and hopes to continue her journey working on products and services used by millions of people every day.
“I like being in Disney. I want to get involved with the company because it’s really cool that they own so many other companies. Then I can get experience doing other things and experience in different industries, which I think is extremely important,” says Schoenfeld. “I really want to be able to work abroad for a few months because I studied abroad, and I just thought it really changed my perspective on a lot of things. So, I’d love to be involved in a company and go into a situation and just learn from a whole different perspective and culture.”
As for Thomas, he sees nothing but success for Schoenfeld, especially in project management. “I would have no doubt that with her global thinking ability and yet her detail in terms of the technologies that she would inherit a product or service that she will manage,” says Thomas. “And I would expect that in a couple of years, I will be talking with her as a product manager, either at Disney or somewhere else.”