Sesame Place is a children's theme park, and the only theme park in the country that is based completely on the award-winning children's television show, Sesame Street. Paula Pritchard '96 serves a special role at the Langhorne, Pa. attraction as director of communications and marketing. The work may sound tough, many view her as lucky, since she counts Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster as her co-workers.
Her duties are somewhat diverse: spokesperson for the park with the media; creates strategic marketing plans; and manages the team that is responsible for the season pass program, retail promotions, media promotions, public relations, social marketing and special events. Her career has also provided her with some unique opportunities, like appearing on CBS' The Early Show, meeting celebrities (such as Mark Wahlberg and the cast of TLC's Jon and Kate Plus 8), and participating in commercial and film shoots.
Though she only attended one College of William and Mary basketball game while she was a student, and that was when she was singing at it as a Busch Gardens employee. The combination of her business school studies and her job at Busch Gardens didn't leave her a lot of time for school activities. But, Pritchard's dedication to her work has paid off.
Upon graduating from high school, Pritchard enrolled at Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) in Hampton, Va. She earned a scholarship at TNCC, and obtained her associate's degree before transferring to William and Mary for her final two years. This plan worked out very well for her, as she explained, "I saved a tremendous amount on tuition costs through the scholarship at TNCC and all of my credits transferred over."
Pritchard declared a marketing major at William and Mary, and became very busy with school and her Busch Gardens job. She said once she started marketing classes, she "knew that was the career path that [she] wanted to follow." This influenced her career with Busch Entertainment Corporation.
While still a student at William and Mary, she had the opportunity to change her position, and got a public relations internship with the marketing department at Busch Gardens. This internship convinced her that she wanted to stay within the industry, and from there, her career took off. After graduating, Pritchard got a promotion to a full-time job in Busch Gardens' marketing department. Since then, her positions have expanded to the public relations and media promotions and sales departments as well.
After spending 11 years at Busch Gardens, Pritchard was offered a position at Sesame Place, and decided to take it. Busch Entertainment Corporation is flexible, as it owns ten theme parks throughout the country. Pritchard remarked that this breadth "allows for tremendous career growth within the company." When the position of director of communications and marketing at Sesame Place opened up, she "embraced the opportunity to transfer and take on a new challenge."
Though she misses her family and friends in Virginia, Pritchard enjoys being close to Philadelphia and New York. She knows that she has "been fortunate to stay within a company that [she has] such a passion for and be given such flexibility to experience the various disciplines within marketing." As she remarked, "Who could ask for a better job?"