College of Arts, Sciences, & Letters graduate Laura (Obersteadt) Abele, ‘94 B.A., presented from her L.A. home and gave career highlights that included a visit to George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, an office with the view of the Hollywood sign, and the opportunity to promote The Lord of the Rings trilogy through home video products, press events, fan-interactive Comic-Con displays, and more.
Because one does not simply walk into Mordor, Abele — The Walt Disney Company’s International events & trade marketing director — gave advice from her career journey during her talk, From Dearborn to Hollywood: Ten Truths I Learned While Navigating the Ever-Changing Entertainment Biz. In addition to the career highs, she also gave tips on managing the lows like recessions, layoffs and mergers. “Overwhelming change and uncertainty are stressful — no kidding, right? But look beyond it for the opportunity. It could be the best thing that happens to you.”
Abele said opportunities are everywhere. One she took while at UM-Dearborn? Applying to WUMD College Radio. “A friend wanted me to apply with her as a DJ...this DJ slot turned into music and program director positions at the station. I would talk to record label promotions people and thought, ‘I want to be one of them.’ I was also taking sociology classes and realized that I liked studying the behaviors of people, especially when it related to marketing products.” Abele said those early experiences helped her gain the tools needed for a career she loves, and she hopes the presentation provides perspective for students and recent graduates as they start their careers.
Frendo said the Alumni Engagement Speaker Series — along with other alumni engagement opportunities — will continue in a virtual or hybrid format even as the campus transitions back to a more robust fall on-campus presence. With the boost in participation, she said it’s clear that both alumni and students are benefiting from the variety in format, topics and shared experiences.
“Alums are an essential part of our story — yesterday, today, always. They are essential to our student success because they were once in the classroom, relate well to our students, and can share what students need to know to thrive,” Frendo said. “The series combines their mentorship while celebrating the phenomenal work they’ve done since leaving campus. We’re honored to be a part of that story.”
Article by Sarah Tuxbury. If you’d like to learn more about how you can engage with UM-Dearborn students or are a faculty member with a speaking engagement opportunity, please contact the Office of Alumni Engagement.