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Road Scholar: Diary of the LA Trip

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Road Scholars: Los Angeles 2012

Kogod student, Lesley Siu, gives an inside look of the spring break trip to Los Angeles, CA.

Los Angeles 2012

Undergraduate student Lesley Siu composed a complete journal of her experiences on the Road Scholars trip to Los Angeles, CA during spring break in early-March. Below are her reflections, written each night, on the cultural and professional outings the group undertook.

Sunday, March 11

Los Angeles: the city of business, entertainment and beautiful weather. As a film and marketing student, I couldn't imagine a better place to spend my spring break. After attending the AU Career Center's annual New York City site visit trip in January, I was more than happy to expand my professional knowledge to the west coast.

Waking up before sunrise isn't exactly the ideal way to start off a Sunday, but this time, I knew it would be worth it. I struggled with the daylight savings time change and forced myself not to hit the snooze button again.

After some last-minute packing and a short Super Shuttle ride later, I met my fellow Kogod Road Scholars at the airport for our 9:15 a.m. flight to LA. The five-hour plane ride to Los Angeles consisted of sleeping, reading and preparing for a week of exciting site visits.

We arrived around noon and were greeted by the beautiful California sunshine. After gathering our luggage, we met our tour guide and hopped on a bus for a tour of the city. We walked along Hollywood Boulevard, ate lunch at the Rolling Stone LA and saw the famous handprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Then, we got back on the bus to drive along the Sunset Strip and through Beverly Hills to see celebrity homes. I had visited these tourist destinations before, but it appeared to be a great experience for the students who had never been to LA.

We checked into our hotel, The Beverly Garland in North Hollywood. We had dinner on our own, so a group of us walked to the nearest In-N-Out Burger for their famous burgers and fries. It was a long yet fulfilling first day, and I was excited for the company visits ahead.

Monday, March 12

This time, I was happy to wake up early for our first trip to Dodger Stadium. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but it was interesting to learn about the history of the team and stadium. The color scheme of the stadium seats mimic the neutral tones of a beach, and the Dodgers got their name from trolley dodgers in Brooklyn. The highlights of the morning tour were visiting the press box and dugout; we even got a group photo taken on the field by the official team photographer! We also got the chance to meet with a professional from the marketing and sales department. He spoke about the challenges of increasing ticket sales and generating customer engagement, which I could relate to the material I was learning in one of my marketing courses. There are many avenues in sports marketing, and he emphasized internships and networking to gain experience in the field. I enjoyed learning about the upcoming promotions for the Dodgers' 50th anniversary season; I think the incentives for season ticket holders are unique, and it will be interesting to follow the success of the program.

For lunch, we went to Wokcano, an Asian restaurant in Burbank. The meal of dumplings, sushi, seafood and ice cream was one of my favorites on the trip. LA traffic put us a little behind schedule, so we didn't have that much time to eat before heading over to DisneyToon Studios in Glendale. There, an AU alum gave us a tour of the facility and spoke about her current position as a producer on the Fairies franchise. We learned about their upcoming projects and got the chance to hear from professionals in various departments of the company: production, finance, casting, music and marketing.  My favorite parts were learning about the basic development process and tailoring projects to effectively communicate on an international level. It was inspiring to hear how the company fosters creativity and the employees all work together to produce great animations.

We had dinner at the home of a Road Scholars participant from Los Angeles. It was a great time for everyone to get to know each other. Dean Ginzberg stopped by, too!

Tuesday, March 13

The second day of site visits began with a trip to the Getty Center. After taking the tram up to the museum, we had the opportunity to tour the museum on our own. The exhibits included photography, drawings, sculptures and paintings, including Van Gogh's "Irises." The Getty isn't one of those museums that physically captivates you for hours—one of the unique facets of the museum is that you have to go outside to go between buildings and see the entire museum! Following our museum adventures, we had lunch with a professional from the education department. He discussed the roles and departments within the Getty Center, from volunteers and maintenance to curators and management. It was enlightening to hear how a museum is run; there is so much going on behind the scenes!

We traveled to Beverly Hills next to hear from the Altman Brothers, notable real estate agents who specialize in the luxury housing market. They discussed their career paths and gave professional advice, emphasizing networking, social media and internships. Josh also discussed his time on Bravo's Million Dollar Listing. Even though I had limited knowledge of the real estate industry, I loved their passion and enthusiasm for what they do. The presentation was extremely engaging, and it was hard not to be inspired by their perseverance and success.

After a short break, we headed to the Standard LA for the alumni networking dinner and reception. Dean Factor, Kogod alum and Smashbox Studios and Smashbox Cosmetics co-founder, gave the keynote speech. I couldn't believe I was in a room with so many successful professionals. It's easy to get intimidated, but I was excited to connect with alumni. Everyone I met was extremely kind, helpful and encouraging.

Wednesday, March 14

Warner Brothers was my favorite visit; I love movies and am passionate about the entertainment industry. We went on a VIP studio tour around the lot, visiting sets, the costume museum and sound stages. My favorite was seeing the Central Perk set from Friends. We also saw the sets for shows including Pretty Little Liars and Gilmore Girls. The museum included costumes from movies and television shows including the Harry Potter series, Gossip Girl and Where the Wild Things Are. After the tour, we had lunch with Mitch Nedick, AU SPA alum and Chief Financial Officer of the CW Television Network. We heard about his time at AU and learned about his role in the company.

That night, we had the chance to attend a pilot television show taping at Warner Brothers. Even though the taping took several hours, the show, Partners, was funny and entertaining. As a film and media arts major, I was fascinated by the behind-the-scenes production and enjoyed watching the live show. A few students congratulated the actors at the end of the taping, too. It was an unforgettable experience!

Thursday, March 15

We spent the morning at the San Antonio Winery for a presentation by the president of Syyn Labs. The company blends technology, science and art to create compelling visual media. They take Rube Goldberg machines to the next level and will absolutely blow your mind. The presenter discussed the company's notable projects including the well known OK Go music video. After the presentation and lunch at the restaurant, we went to the Grove for the afternoon. We had free time to eat, shop and spend time with the group. Of course, I headed straight to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. The relaxed afternoon was much needed!

Friday, March 16

The group started off our last day of site visits ready to play (and learn, of course) at Mattel. We received a thorough presentation from an AU alum who focuses on corporate social responsibility. This idea is becoming increasingly popular in the business world; I've studied the topic in Kogod courses, but it was great to hear about real-world examples. It was interesting to learn about the toy company's efforts to maintain a sustainable production process by making small changes that make a big impact, such as switching metal fasteners to string in toy packaging. We also had lunch there and learned about her experience with the company and at AU.

After lunch, we traveled to the Port of Los Angeles for a boat tour around the port led by a public relations executive. We saw the shipping and receiving areas and learned about the import and export process. My favorite part was seeing a group of sea lions in the water!

Following the tour, we went to the Port offices and heard from the marketing department. We learned about the history and functions of "America's Port." Ports are businesses, too! Marketing is challenging due to the competition between neighboring ports and large scale of the industry.

Saturday, March 17

We had the day free to do activities in LA on our own. I met up with one of my friends in the area who I met on my study abroad program in Scotland. We had breakfast then traveled to the Getty Villa in Malibu. Inspired by Grecian and Roman architecture, the museum houses antiquities arranged by themes including sculptures of Gods and Goddesses and ancient jewelry. Then we drove through Santa Monica, went shopping on Melrose Avenue and had lunch in Hollywood. My cousin also lives in LA, so I had the chance to go to Santa Monica with her for dinner.

Others on the trip spent the day going to Disneyland, Universal CityWalk and Melrose. Unfortunately it was raining heavily, so our options were limited. After a busy week of visiting companies, it was nice to have a day to relax and explore LA.

Sunday, March 18

We departed LAX for Dulles airport around 1:00 p.m. With the time difference, we arrived back on campus around 9:00 p.m. I returned home feeling thankful for the learning opportunity and grateful for the experience. Anxious to apply my west coast knowledge with my east coast education, I can't wait to see where my career (and Kogod) takes me next.