Erica Barry ’19

Major: Economics        

Profession: Manager of Client Strategy & Analytics, Bliss Point Media and Author

Hometown: Washington D.C.

What are you doing now?

I am a manager of client strategy & analytics at Bliss Point Media in Los Angeles. We are the leading purchaser of streaming media in the United States and manage over $500 million in media. We sit at the intersection of media and cutting-edge technology and use patented machine-learning technology to help our clients optimize their performance on streaming platforms such as Hulu, Disney+, cable TV, streaming audio and other online video platforms.

Outside of work, I recently finished my first book, Don't Wait, Create: How to Be a Content Creator in the New Digital Revolution. Growing up in the Internet generation, I loved watching early YouTubers like The Lonely Island and Smosh. Since then, I've watched platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok evolve to dominate mainstream pop culture, especially after the production of mainstream television shows and movies was slowed down by the global pandemic.

Inspired by these media trends, I decided to write my book to shine a spotlight on this phenomenon and provide a roadmap for aspiring content creators to leverage digital media to jump start their personal creative visions. I had a lot of fun interviewing some of my favorite content creators, researching the industry at large… and watching scores of TikToks over the past year!

How did you get there?

While at Pomona, I majored in economics and minored in media studies. In my economics coursework, I fell in love with the power of data analytics to provide answers to seemingly unsolvable problems. On the media studies side, I enjoyed learning about the powerful relationship between media and culture, and the capacity of readily accessible digital media platforms to inspire social change. Pomona allowed me to explore both interests in profound and meaningful ways.

I worked with Professor Gary Smith on publishing a paper proving that stocks with "clever" stock ticker symbols (like Papa John's PZZA and Boingo Wireless' WIFI) outperform the market. I use the data analytics skills I built as an economics major daily in my current position as Manager of Client Strategy & Analytics.

One of my favorite media studies courses at Pomona was Professor Thomas Connelly's Theory and Aesthetics of Television. In this course, we examined the social and cultural ecosystem around popular shows from “The Flintstones” to MTV's “Jersey Shore.” In my current role at Bliss Point Media, I must think a lot about the past, present, and future of television and media, and I often find myself using the analytical framework that I learned in my media studies coursework at Pomona.

How did Pomona prepare you?

I am so thankful for the freedom that Pomona provided me to explore my (many) interests and have a positive impact on the community.

Pomona also helped me develop my communication skills. Instead of sitting in a giant lecture hall, most of my classes at Pomona were very small, engaging and interactive. I looked forward to lively classroom conversations about everything from game theory to “Game of Thrones”.

Outside of the classroom, Pomona College allowed me to do the unconventional and explore my interests unapologetically. My freshman summer, through the Pomona College Internship Program, I was able to work as a digital production intern at Hawaii News Now in Honolulu -- where I witnessed firsthand how digital media is transforming how people consume news. When I returned to campus, with the support of Dean Ric Townes and the Pomona College Athletics Department, I created “The Sagehen Scoop”, the first digital newscast at Pomona College.

In addition, I worked as a campus tour guide, performed as a Disney cast member at Disneyland Resort, and wrote for The Huffington Post. The immense support that the faculty and staff at Pomona provide to their students and the campus culture that celebrates each student's individuality allowed me to thrive and explore my interests in deep and meaningful ways.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

It is an exciting time to be working in media because things are changing rapidly! In five years, I hope to be still working at the intersection of media and technology. There is so much going on in the world of content creation, streaming and digital media, and I hope to be using a data-driven approach to solve practical problems and manage challenges in the media and entertainment industry.

Any advice for prospective or current students?

At Pomona, truly anything is possible.

Pomona has so many wonderful resources: internship programs, research opportunities, clubs, fantastic faculty and alumni networks and your fellow students! Make sure to take advantage of them while you're on campus.

Also, If you have an idea for something that hasn't been done before, do it! Whether it's starting a new club, a passion project or a novel piece of research. You have the chance to make your mark and impact a unique community.

Last, it's OK not to have everything figured out. Enjoy the process of growing and learning and remember to notice the little joys of being on campus: living in the same hall as your friends, having seemingly infinite dining options and the beautiful trees lining Marston Quad.

Your college years will go by faster than you think!