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Real Humans of Hulu: Jess Keane, NYU Stern MBA ’22, Senior Content Acquisition Associate

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Jess Keane’s passion for storytelling and film ultimately led her to Hulu, a career pivot enabled by an MBA from NYU Stern. In this edition of our Real Humans: Alumni series, Keane shares her story of how she found the perfect program to pursue her dreams–one with an entertainment specialization, emphasis on emotional intelligence and empathy, and industry opportunities that helped her galvanize the skills she needed to embark on her new career. From investment banking to entertainment, follow her path below.

Jess Keane, NYU Stern MBA ’22, Senior Content Acquisition Associate at Hulu

Age: 31
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Undergraduate Institution and Major: American University, Economics
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: NYU Stern, 2022, Entertainment, Media & Technology
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Team Lead, Cambridge Associates, 6 years, Investment Management
Post-MBA Work Experience: Sr. Content Acquisition Associate – Indie Films, Hulu, 1.5+ years (started June 2022), Entertainment

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I decided to attend business school because I hit a point in my career in Investment Management where I wasn’t feeling as excited about the work anymore. I did some introspection to figure out what I’ve consistently been passionate about throughout my life, and I realized it has always been storytelling and films. Given this was a significant industry shift, and knowing the entertainment industry is incredibly hard to break into, I started looking at MBA programs to help me make this career pivot.

Why NYU Stern? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
After considering a few different programs, I became completely enamored by NYU Stern’s Entertainment specialization and the connection that NYU has to the broader film and entertainment industry. Because I was making such a big pivot, I knew I needed to attend an MBA program where I could garner as much knowledge and requisite skills related specifically to the entertainment industry as possible. Between the entertainment-specific classes, entertainment professional club, alumni network, and experiential learning opportunities like attending the Cannes Film Festival, I knew Stern was the perfect fit for me.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career at Hulu?
While the entertainment-specific courses and extracurriculars gave me an invaluable understanding of the current state of the industry, my other core courses also prepared me for my current role. The negotiation and data visualization courses I took have been instrumental, largely because of how they focus on relationship management and knowing your audience. NYU Stern also places such a strong emphasis on emotional intelligence and empathy, and how both are essential to leadership. Hard skills can be learned on the job in any scenario, but learning about the evolving definition of leadership, especially in these increasingly challenging times, is definitely the best thing Stern gave me.  

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned at FilmNation Entertainment in their Distribution department. This was my first role in the entertainment industry, and it was extremely validating because it helped me realize I was on the right path. My role was very data-driven, but I also got to read scripts, write coverage, and participate in the company’s weekly weekend read meetings. The experience gave me a deeper love for independent film and the more creative side of the industry. This internship, in tandem with my Stern experience, helped me realize that I wanted to find a role that was closely tied to content decision-making.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I was somewhat stubborn about the idea of moving out to LA after graduation, but when I saw Hulu post my current role, that stubbornness completely went out the window. The role in Content Acquisition, which is specific to independent film, was the perfect blend of the analytical skills I honed throughout my career and the involvement with the film industry that I was looking for. Hulu is, of course, also an incredibly exciting brand, and I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to support that brand through film acquisition alongside a great team.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Coffee chats really are as important as everyone says they are. Especially in entertainment, I found it so helpful to network with alumni working in various functions in the industry. While in my case, this didn’t directly lead to my role at Hulu, it did help me figure out which functions I was most excited to pursue and at which companies.

–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
I was very fortunate that I found my current role early in my job search, but something I would do differently is have even more coffee chats. Especially as someone pivoting industries, it truly never hurts to have more resources to rely on for advice and perspective.

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
I wish it was emphasized even more to not obsess over grades. There is so much to gain across the various pillars of the MBA experience, and classwork is incredibly important – however, I’d recommend focusing on learning and not on what your grades are at the end of the semester. Getting your MBA is a time to focus on yourself, learn what you can, and connect with people along the way to better understand your next step. 

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.