Alumni Spotlight

A look at distinguished alumnus of the Management and Organization department at The Pennsylvania State Smeal College of Business.

Jillian McNally

Class of 2019

Five Questions with Jillian McNally...

 

1. What was your academic rundown, and what are you doing now?
I attended Penn State from 2015-2019 through the 2+2 program. I first attended Penn State Berks during my first and second years, before coming to the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University Park for my last two years. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Smeal in the spring of 2019 with my Bachelor of Science in Management, with a concentration in Organizational Leadership, and a minor in the Legal Environment of Business. I also had the privilege of being the Management and Organization Department Student Marshal.

My goal throughout my time at Penn State was to begin my career at The Walt Disney Company. With this intention, I completed enough credits during my first two years to position myself in the spring semester of my junior year to participate in the Disney College Program in Florida. After completing this program, I then returned to Smeal for my senior year, and had the opportunity to apply for various professional positions at Disney. During the spring semester of my senior year, I was offered and accepted a position at Walt Disney World.

At Walt Disney World, I started in the Disney Hospitality Leadership Program, where I was a Management Intern at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom. In 2020, this program was cut short by the park closures due to the pandemic. I then became an Area Manager with Amazon at a fulfillment center outside of Orlando, FL while waiting to return to Disney. In 2021, I was called back to a permanent position as a Guest Experience Manager at Cinderella’s Royal Table, where I am currently employed. I am also an MBA candidate at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business through the one-year accelerated program, set to graduate in December.

2. Why are you pursuing graduate school?
Pursuing graduate school was always a part of my academic plan. I aspire to move into an upper level, corporate position at The Walt Disney Company, and I believe my MBA degree will strengthen my business acumen, preparing me to fulfill greater responsibilities. 

3. How did your Management coursework prepare you for your current position at The Walt Disney Company?
My management coursework at Penn State gave me the wholistic view of business and leadership necessary in my positions at both Disney and Amazon. Within my current role at The Walt Disney Company, the primary focus areas are the cast, guests, and business. Fortunately, my management coursework addressed all three of these focus areas, thus providing me the skills to succeed in my position as a manager at a multi-million-dollar operation. 

4. What advice do you have for students majoring in Management?
Beyond the coursework, my advice to Management majors, or any Smeal student, is to take advantage of the services and resources at the Business Career Center. The career coaching can help with not only technical improvements to your resume or cover letter, but also your soft skills and confidence in the interview phase of your career search. The advice I received during my career coaching appointments helped me to prepare and stand out in my journey, and to accept a highly competitive position at The Walt Disney Company. I later applied what I had learned when joining Amazon, and again when returning to Disney. The coaching and skills you receive will be enduring and worth the time investment.

5. What is your favorite Penn State memory?
My favorite memories are the cozy, snowy days at Penn State Berks, and the games and events at Penn State University Park. I enjoyed the opportunity to have two unique experiences during my time at both campuses.

 

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