“Alright, this is it”, I thought to myself as I walked up to the building where my first interview for my first internship would be taking place. It seems so long ago that I was an entering freshman, hardly even knowing what an internship was, much less worried about interviewing for one. Yet here I was, three short years later and about to embark on a professional journey that would hopefully open the doors of opportunity in the near future.
As someone with career interests in Higher Education, I had always imagined myself approaching this journey wearing a brand new blouse and pumps…so why was I walking in to my first interview wearing yoga pants and jazz shoes? Well, that is because my “interview” was actually an audition, and the company I intended to intern for was Disney. I hoped to spend the spring semester of my junior year participating in The Disney College Program.
For those of you who have never heard of this program before (I hadn’t until last year!), Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort offer a unique internship experience for college students that allows them to become part of the magic as they spend a semester working at one of the world-famous theme parks. Through this internship, students have the opportunity to gain hands-on job experience, take a variety of classes, expand valuable skill sets and meet people from all over the world…all while working for The Mouse!
When I told my dad that this was how I wanted to spend the latter half of my junior year in college, all he heard was “I want to take a semester off and go play at Disney World!” I had to back up my interest. I explained to him that my dream-job is to one day work as a Director of Orientation at a university. I already had one summer’s experience working as a student orientation leader, and one summer’s experience working as a parent orientation leader. If those two summers had taught me anything, it was that you have to treat every student and parent coming through orientation as a guest. Even though the few days they spend at the school are focused on logistics and mapping out the student’s first semester, it is imperative that they feel welcomed, valued and leave having had the most positive experience possible. Going that extra mile to assist a parent or calm a student’s nerves really can make a world of difference in their transition to college.
After having two years under my belt working in an actual orientation setting, I decided that this year it was time for a change of scenery and a chance to expand skill sets that would benefit me in my later pursuits of a career in higher education. That is where Disney came in to play. I knew that working for an international company that is known for their hospitality and guest relations would certainly better me for future employment.
With this as my closing argument, I gained the support from my dad to go ahead and apply. I should note that the audition I attended is not required to participate in the program. The audition is simply extra if the student is interested in exploring an entertainment role (such as portraying a character).
The application process was fairly simple. After an application is submitted, you are asked to follow-up with a web-based interview. This interview is there for the purpose of getting to know the applicant a little better and determining whether or not they would be a good fit for the program. Once selected to continue with the application process, the next and final step is to be interviewed over the phone by a Disney Representative. This was easily the most laid-back interview I have ever had. The woman I spoke with made a special effort to gather as much information as she could so as to place me in a position that would best benefit my future career goals. That is the great thing about The Disney College Program. They have roles in everything from attractions, to guest research, to merchandising, to guest relations so as to fit a variety of interests and majors.
Another component that makes Disney such a unique internship experience is the opportunity to take classes in a variety of subjects for the chance to be awarded college credit (Note: All universities and departments evaluate the Disney classes differently to determine what kind of credit may be awarded. It is important for a student to speak with an advisor to determine what kind of college credit may be given for the internship).
While working for Disney, students are provided housing that is akin to an “on-campus” apartment. Because this is a paid internship (wages vary depending on your role), housing costs are deducted from weekly paychecks, so there is no need to worry about rent!
These are just a few of the many benefits to participating in The Disney College Program. Now that I have been accepted, January can’t get here fast enough. If your student is interested in an internship with Disney, I highly encourage them to look in to it. It is hard to match the experience to be gained from working for an international company like Disney. Who wouldn’t want to work for The Mouse?