Degree from UCLA IS led to a position that would utilize research skills, bring ideals of democratic discourse to corporate setting.
When Alexa Romero, an intern at Disney Digital Parks & Resorts Digital, a subset of Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts, sat down to what she assumed would be a routine meeting with one of the company’s vice presidents earlier this year, she was surprised to find herself involved in an honest discussion about the most prescient issues in communications today, including fake news, transparency, and disinformation in the media.
“What started out as a very corporate and revenue-driven meeting quickly turned into a philosophical discussion about fake news and misinformation,” says Romero, who has since graduated in June with her MLIS in Informatics/Library Studies and landed a permanent position as an Innovation Research Analyst at Disney Parks & Resorts Digital. “He was curious about my degree and how library school has changed over the years. So, I provided him with some insights that I’ve learned in the UCLA MLIS program.”
Last spring, Romero had taken a class titled “Trump, Clinton, and Role of (Dis)Information in Politics,” that was taught by UCLA IS professors Safiya U. Noble and Sarah T. Roberts.
“Before taking that class, I would have been very overwhelmed and very emotional about talking about [issues] like this,” says Romero. “But the class has helped me kind of create a basis for a conversation, to be able to talk to someone in that position at an equal level and to be open-minded, as well as confident in my viewpoint. It helped me talk about what’s going on in these times, in a way that I don’t have assumptions about the other person or the other party; being able to talk about things in an understanding and conversational manner, without judgment, and just trying to learn.”
Romero’s responsibilities at Disney Parks & Resorts Digital include organizing and producing research on emerging technologies and digital trends, writing and producing competitive intelligence, benchmarks, internal presentations, and industry analysis, in order to provide informed-decision making research to a variety of teams; and maintaining a network of resources, vendors, and research to provide managed content and information. Romero says that she was also offered the position with the hope that she would provide education for Disney staff and executives on how to develop a research question, vet sources, and other research skills needed to find ways for the company to maximize its business.
In addition to these duties, Romero hopes that she can help to develop an environment of respect for different perspectives in the workplace.
“When the travel ban came out, [Lyft] sent out this company-wide email – I think Microsoft did as well – to let employees know that they were there for them and that they didn’t take what was happening lightly,” Romero says. “I think at a very high level, that’s great. And as that leadership chain goes down, that kind of communication and letting everyone know that you stand behind them is a great way to provide some comfort in sensitive times.”
Romero says that she is grateful for Professor Leah Lievrouw’s guidance with her culminating MLIS portfolio, and for Noble and Roberts’ course.
“It gives me a warm feeling that even in these times – and in such a corporate environment – that there are still leaders who value information literacy and see me as someone who can encourage it.”
Photo courtesy of Alexa Romero