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Arts & Entertainment

On Roc Nation Co-op, Drexel Student Draws Blueprint for Success

By: Ben Seal

January 5, 2017

Rapper Jay-Z, the founder of Roc Nation

This is one of a regular series profiling Drexel students and their co-ops. 

Julia Davis was intimidated on her first day at Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s all-inclusive entertainment company.

She’d listened to his music, of course, and admired his business savvy from afar — his rise from rapper to entrepreneur to media mogul — but now there she was, in the middle of everything in his company’s New York office. She had no choice but to build some confidence and get to work alongside the hip-hop legend and his expansive team.

Over the course of her three-month summer co-op in the public relations department at Roc Nation, Davis met or worked with any number of artists, athletes and celebrities whose names typically appear in bright lights and big letters. Before long, though, she learned a simple yet important lesson about the entertainment industry.

“They’re just people — we’re all people — and you can talk to them like anyone else,” Davis said.

Davis, a sophomore entertainment and arts management major in Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, landed the co-op after six months emailing various contacts at Roc Nation asking for a chance. The persistence paid off.

She compiled weekly press reports on Roc Nation’s lengthy client list, tracked their presence and popularity on social media, and helped coordinate features and articles the company had published in news outlets. She also worked at Roc Nation events, including the 20th anniversary celebration of Jay-Z’s album "Reasonable Doubt," a celebrity basketball event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the Made in America music festival right here in Philadelphia.

The charity basketball game, called the Roc Nation Summer Classic, was a highlight for Davis, who worked the red carpet and helped to write the script for the day’s events, among other behind-the-scenes duties. The anniversary event, held at a large art gallery full of work inspired by Jay-Z’s music, gave her a chance to network with some major players in the industry. As for Made in America, the annual festival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that many of her classmates surely attended, Davis, given her local ties, provided some of the necessary research.

The positive experience at Roc Nation was made all the better by the two women with whom Davis worked closely: Jana Fleishman, executive vice president and head of communications at the company, and Jade-Li English, a member of its public relations department. Having a pair of female leaders at her first co-op helped her to settle in, she said, and gave her examples of how to make it in the industry.

“My bosses both showed me how to have a personal life and how to balance work and stay healthy,” Davis said.

Fleishman and English instilled in Davis an understanding that hard work is important but that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is critical in an industry where burnout is common.

Now back in Philadelphia, Davis is an intern at Fame House, a digital marketing agency, handling social media and e-commerce for clients and artists. Her primary focus, at this point, is to move to the management side of the industry, but public relations and marketing still interest her. After a successful first foray into the industry with Roc Nation, she’s eager for more and welcomes her next challenge. She’s got the role models and she’s got the confidence. All that’s left is to explore.

About the Drexel Co-op program: More than 98 percent of eligible undergraduate students at Drexel participate in the co-op program, balancing full-time classes and up to three different internships during their time at Drexel. Students can choose from more than 1,700 employers in 33 states and 48 international locations — plus endless possibilities through self-arranged placements.