If you are the parent of a college student, you know how important the right internships can be in opening doors for your young adult’s future. Not only through the experience they will gain but the exposure to different environments and the opportunity to get on the radar of their dream company too. And if they don’t already have one scheduled for the summer, they may find it’s time to look ahead to fall semester or even next year. That how competitive the internship experience has become and for very good reason.
A long, long time ago in a decade far, far away, I was blessed to be selected as a Walt Disney World College Program Intern.
A sophomore at the University of Nebraska ~ Lincoln, I’d heard about the program through sorority sisters and knew it was not only amazing but by all accounts exceptionally fun. Working at Walt Disney World should be that way yes? However, the real word on the street was that the Disney College Program was extremely competitive because they interviewed on campuses nationwide looking for exceptional kids who could at that young age embody and fulfill The Disney Promise:
- As a Disney Cast Member, I promise to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, making dreams come true every single day.
Oh yes, it’s totally legitimate, I promise! By the grace of God, truly, I was selected for a spring semester placement and while I didn’t get the assignment I had hoped for ~ balloon girl on Main Street ~ I did get assigned as an Attractions Hostess at The Universe of Energy. Little did I know how blessed I would be. If you visit the Disney College Program Website, you’ll see the following description:
- As a part of the Disney College Program, participants have the incredible opportunity to advance their strengths and interests, meet guests and cast members from around the country and take part in educational opportunities students can’t get anywhere else. This truly unique program allows participants to network with leaders, take part in personal and career development classes, and build transferable skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, guest service and effective communication.
While there are many more than six reasons why your college student should intern at Disney, here the ones from my experience that I know have stood the test of time.
Because working and living with people who are different than you is a good thing.
A million years ago recruitment activity was limited to the United States. But today the Disney College Program recruits kids from across the globe by recruiting international students attending universities in the United States. You’ll find many of these kids in Epcot to preserve the authentic guest experience. Because…Disney. I lived in Snow White Campground with 7 fellow female interns, each from a different university east of Denver, Colorado. And at that time, my experience at the University of Nebraska ~ Lincoln was mostly shared with students from Nebraska. While meeting people from across the state was awesome, meeting and becoming friends with people from across the country who I would have never have had the chance to know opened my eyes ~ and my mind ~ in countless ways.
Because being required to follow a dress code matters.
Like it or not, first impressions matter. And unfortunately many kids today ~ and adults for that matter ~ don’t realize how what you wear reflects on your employer and you’ve got to choose wisely. Don’t get me wrong ~ I’m all for casual Fridays, being dressed up without having to wear a suit or heels, and thank goodness hardly anyone wears panty hose anymore! But when you are a Disney Parks Cast Member, you have to have The Disney Look and that starts with your personal appearance. Not only must you have a classic, clean, friendly presentation, you also wear a uniform everyday that is themed on the area you are assigned. So for five months I sported my orange polyester uniform and closed toe low black pumps, minimal jewelry, and modest makeup, all in accordance with the strict rules of The Cast Member handbook. And I learned there that my unity and uniformity with the cast at The Universe of Energy ~ and Walt Disney World Resort ~ meant more than my individual taste. It wasn’t about me, it was about Disney.
Because you won’t get paid much but what you learn will be priceless.
Call me crazy but I couldn’t wait to work for 30 hours a week at minimum wage in the happiest place on earth. Already a huge Disney fan, I knew I was in an exclusive program that would set me apart and that alone was worth the limited financial reward. Not only did we work, but we also attended Disney University and it was that component of the program that enabled me to also earn college credit with my professors’ approval, papers and projects to be done along the way as well. That this was even possible was in direct correlation to the fact that our classes were taught by Disney Management Team Members from each specialty, responsible for operations, training and development of the Walt Disney World Cast in their care, these were Disney’s leaders. These same leaders now share their insights worldwide through The Disney Institute, making the magic of Disney available to organizations everywhere. There is no way on earth I could have learned as much back at school and I can promise you it shaped my professional perspective from that point forward even to this day and beyond.
Because traveling without your family is a very good thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love family travel but growing up we didn’t do much other than visit family in other cities. We took an occasional trip to Long Boat Key, Florida and it was on one of those trips that I first travelled to Walt Disney World. So not only did this internship offer me the opportunity to travel someplace very different from where I lived, but I got to do it on my own. As college students do, we lived life to the fullest and that included day and weekend trips anytime we could piece together enough hours off our shifts and money for gas. My two favorite trips had to be our weekend camping (in our car) in the Florida Keys and our end of internship celebration trip to the Bahamas. Not an official Disney College Program activity but something my group of friends and I wanted to do to savor every last moment together before we all returned to our respective schools. Navigating the world on your own is what college is all about and that my opportunity to explore happened in Florida was perfection to me.
If you are lucky enough to visit Walt Disney World as a child, you learn early that not a single detail is left untouched. From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, you are truly in at the most magical place on earth. And that doesn’t happen by chance. Once you get out into the working world, you learn that Disney is a world leader in every possible way, a company that others look to for insights, aspire to mirror, and admire for its success from every possible angle. So when it comes to getting hired after graduation, to have an internship with one of the worlds most popular, successful, and outstanding brands opens doors that might not otherwise be within your reach. It’s a stamp on excellence for your collegiate resume that will catch recruiters eye and make them take a second look. Seriously ~ it was the ONLY thing I talked about in my post college interviews and is always a great conversation piece professionally today as well.
Because dreams really do come true.
Companies are wise to groom the employees of the future and what better way to harness fresh young minds full of untapped talent than to fill your pipeline with the nations best interns? Its not uncommon for College Program kids to return after graduation to seize the opportunity to start their careers with a world renowned organization. The only reason I did not follow suit was that I met my husband senior year and we returned from our respective universities to the Washington, DC area where our parents lived. Fortunately, I’ve been able to be part of some amazing experiences with Disney Parks and Walt Disney World through my work in social media. So while not at all the same as being a lifetime cast member, a dusting of pixie dust that I am forever grateful has come my way that I believe is only enhanced by me Disney College Program experience.
Disney knows that parents have questions and concerns. Check out the “Parents and Family” tab to learn more about the logistics, living arrangements, and the care and safety of your student while they are gone.
We have a son in college whom we’ve encouraged to keep an eye on the Disney College Program as an internship that could make all the difference in his future should he be chosen when he applies. And no small surprise, an organization where he serves as a leader is hosting a national convention there this summer and he has already asked to attend. Our love for Disney runs deep in this crowd and my hope is that they can see the transfer of their childhood love of such a magical place into a admiration and respect for the amazing company that Disney surely is.
While internship opportunities are our children’s to create and secure, sharing another side of Disney they might not have known existed is always a good thing. Make no mistake about it all three of our kids are huge fans so I’m crossing all the things that each one will choose to apply for their own reasons and is blessed to be accepted. Can you imagine how fun that would be to share that legacy? Talk about pixie dust! Tell me…
Did you intern in college? How did it impact your future?
If you have a college student looking for a life changing internship with game changing career potential, the Disney College Program is currently accepting applications. Encourage them to check it out ~ success is calling!
Thanks so much for stopping by ~ see you next time!