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The Business of Balancing Both Cody Louis Cohen, this December’s undergraduate commencement speaker, is an aspiring TV producer and business professional

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Cody Cohen outside of Kogod.
Credit: Will Diamond

Cody Louis Cohen, BSBA '17 with a concentration in television production, is bi-lingual—but not as one might think. Cohen's a pro at TV production AND business, balancing a skill set that's strategically matched. "I came to Kogod so I could understand both languages," Cohen says. "I knew I couldn't be successful [in television] without strong business skills."

Last summer, he put his business acumen to the test. Cohen worked as a production management intern at EPIX in New York City, where he generated source material for the network's creative services team. Key responsibilities included working with movie studios and attending meetings with the director of creative services-tasks that required a keen professional skill set.

"Kogod really taught me how to stand out," he says.

Back at school this Fall, Cohen achieved another professional milestone. He was nominated to apply, and was accepted, as this December's undergraduate commencement speaker-a dream he's had for years.

"I remember saying [to my mom], 'wouldn't it be cool to be commencement speaker and share my story?' And now it's coming true," Cohen says.

Cohen has two goals with his speech: to make it relatable and uplifting. He wants it to showcase everything AU has to offer-a topic he hopes his classmates will connect to, and feel good about.

He's structuring it like a script. Cohen's included characters, different scenes, and, of course, a plot twist. In short, it's a metaphor for life. "I hope everyone can see themselves in it because we all have our own 'scripts.' If one is ending, a new one begins," he says.

Cohen, while very successful at Kogod, has also experienced his share of hardship. About halfway through his degree program, Cohen fell critically ill and took a leave of absence from school. He went back to his Woodbury, New York, home for treatment and put his degree on hold for a semester.

The experience was difficult, he says, but also empowering. "I faced a situation where I had no choice but to be strong. It really taught me how to handle things in a way I didn't think I could," he says.

Cohen's illness also offered clarity for his future. While he was sick, he watched a lot of television-not just for fun, but for inspiration. Following people's stories and analyzing the structure of each show kept him connected to his communications work at AU.

When he returned to school, he did so with a set passion: television production. He knew now which career path to pursue. "I always wanted to be part of that bigger picture. Being a part of something that grand was exciting to me," Cohen says.

Cohen worked hard to catch up at school, but is quick to admit that he couldn't have done it alone. He says his friends, professors, and the Kogod staff supported him in his recovery 100%. "Their goal was to get me back on track, and they worked really hard to make that happen," he says.

It's the people at Kogod that really defined his experience, he says. The community-whom he calls "interdisciplinary and diverse"-helped him get the most out of his time, during and after his recovery. "I've experienced everything the school and Washington, DC, has to offer because of the people that I've met," Cohen says. "And, because the community is so diverse, I've learned many different ways of looking at life."

After graduation, Cohen plans to move back to New York City to work in the television industry as a production assistant or coordinator. He hopes to work for a show and inch his way up "through the rankings"-or, eventually pursue his passions in Los Angeles.

Long-term, he wants to be a television producer that creates multiple shows or leads a network. "I want to be the one to tell the stories and create living content for everyone to enjoy," Cohen says.

Whatever path he takes, it is certain he will keep speaking the language of business and entertainment. It's a fusion that's served him well so far, from his EPIX internship to his upcoming graduation speech. He's excited to continue navigating the television world with the business skills gained at AU, now as a Kogod alumnus.

"The options are unlimited, which is what I love about this industry," Cohen says. "It's overwhelming, but so exciting."

Learn more about Kogod's BSBA program and its specialization options.