Q&A with Melissa Beretta ‘18, Associate, Corporate Strategy and Development, NBCUniversal
In this interview, Melissa Beretta ‘18, Associate, Corporate Strategy and Development at NBCUniversal, shares her experience as a Duke student, discusses her professional transition from finance to media, and offers advice for students interested in pursuing careers in creative industries.
Majors: Psychology, Political Science; Minor: Economics
What are 2-3 ways your Duke experience helped prepare you for your current career role and/or previous roles?
My classmates constantly challenged my world view, which made me more open to new perspectives, to being wrong, and to questioning the status quo. I was also fortunate to take several classes that examined the media’s impact on consumer and voter behavior, which prepared me to analyze trends and strategize in my current role.
Duke taught me how important it is to find teammates that are strong in areas where you are weaker. My favorite collaborators—on group projects or on club executive boards—were people who thought differently from me and excelled in areas where my skills were lacking. Not only did we find more success with our complementary skills, but we learned from each other.
How did you make the transition from Duke to your career? What are a few helpful takeaways from your first years out of Duke?
My first job was in investment banking, but I quickly learned that path was not fulfilling me. I chose the path most-traveled, rather than doing the work to find a better fit for my interests and goals. Nevertheless, I probably wouldn’t be in my current role if it weren’t for that first job, which taught me that every step in your career has value.
Also: don’t be afraid to make a big move.
How did you decide what you wanted to do after Duke? And how did you make transition(s) to different fields?
I started in finance to position myself for a career in business, but I quickly transitioned to media because reading, listening, and thinking about the entertainment industry is my passion and challenges me intellectually. During that transition, I connected with amazing people across the industry and asked every question imaginable to determine where I would best fit.
What is your favorite thing about working in your profession? Most challenging?
I love how much my team is open to new, unconventional ideas. Working in media and strategy means being ready for an ever-changing business, so everyone has to be open to ways we can address consumer needs. One challenging element of my role is staying up-to-date on new research and shifting perspectives on the industry, which requires a lot of time and scrutiny.
What are 2-3 pieces of advice you would offer to a student interested in your field(s)?
Read or listen to everything you can get your hands on. There are so many smart people out there talking about this industry, and you’ll want to have your own perspectives on the business and where it can go. Every single person you meet is worth connecting with, even if they aren’t in the role you want or at the company you want to work for today.