Industry Partner Creates Pipeline for Whitman Students to Explore Media Ad Sales
Director of Sales and Operations for Warner Bros. Discovery
- Corporate Partner
When I interview a Whitman student, or even have a conversation to answer questions, I always get a follow-up thank you.
Over the last 10 years in her role directing media sales operations for Discovery and now Warner Bros. Discovery, Vivian Bellina has turned to Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management as a consistent source of talent for internship programs and entry-level jobs.
“Whitman students are well rounded. They’re not just smart, they’re aware of what’s going on in the world. And they have great people skills,” Bellina says.
A main revenue driver for any media company is selling commercial space to national advertisers. “Ad sales is a social business,” she says. “There’s a lot of client interaction so people who have dynamic personalities tend to do well.”
Bellina first visited Syracuse University while recruiting talent for Scripps Networks Interactive, initially focused on communications majors. “It wasn’t a good fit,” she recalls.
But then Bellina met Alison Kessler, director of alumni engagement at the Whitman School, who suggested that Whitman’s marketing management majors might have the skill set she was looking for. Through the years, that connection has paid dividends, both for Bellina and for the multitude of Whitman students who have benefited from jobs, internships and mentorship from Bellina herself.
Scripps was sold to Discovery, which merged last year with Warner Bros. Bellina has served as director of ad sales operations for each entity. In earlier years, she came to the Whitman School to attend job fairs and host coffee chats for students interested in ad sales, functions that are now conducted primarily via Zoom.
“We offer a great opportunity for someone interested in sales who wants to work in media,” Bellina says.
One of the best ways to explore a potential media sales career is through Warner Bros. Discovery’s summer ad sales internship. During the 12-week program, students experience various facets of the business, from sales planning and branded content to marketing and content partnerships, as well as direct ad sales for the company’s various brands. “We want students to understand what jobs in ad sales are and to meet and learn from people who are doing those jobs,” says Bellina.
Those interns have the best shot at securing an entry-level position as an ad sales assistant, where Bellina herself started out years ago.
“What I loved was that I was surrounded by people my own age and we were all driven to do well and succeed,” she says. Already married and a young mother, Bellina was drawn to supervisory roles rather than developing a career as a salesperson. “I discovered a passion for mentoring,” she says. “I love what I do, and I’ve always wanted to share that.”
That passion is evident through Bellina’s generosity with her time, says Alicin Welsh, associate director of Whitman’s Career Center. “She is always willing to update us on industry trends and to talk with students interested in the field,” Welsh says.
In addition to formal recruitment programs or information sessions, Bellina says she frequently mentors students who reach out to her informally with questions through LinkedIn. “I always make time because you never know where those connections might lead,” she says. “And when I help someone, I always remind them that I'm going to reach out to them someday to give back to another student. I've been very blessed to have connected with a lot of great people I’m still in touch with and have a great network to draw from.”
One thing that sets Whitman students apart in those encounters is their follow up, Bellina says. “When I interview a Whitman student, or even have a conversation to answer questions, I always get a follow-up thank you,” she says. “Maybe I’m old school, but those are the types of students we want to hire and the culture we want to be surrounded with.”
By Renée Gearhart Levy