What the Disney College Program Taught Me

As a child, I was immersed with all things Disney. From the classic films (I still own a few on VHS), to the sing-alongs on tape, toys, and even the Halloween costumes. Of course, it was only natural to tie that obsession with a trip every couple of years to the most happiest place on Earth. With every visit, I was always convinced that there was magic lingering in the air. How else could the birds from the Enchanted Tiki Room put on a humorous performance in front of a human audience? Where is that enchanting music coming from? Why did that person from the confectionary give me a free treat? And most importantly, how is your favorite Disney character able to walk and talk among the guests? Eventually, I learned that it wasn’t just the magic that made Disney World so different from other theme parks, but also the cast members. Now, if someone would have predicted that I’d become one of those cast members in the near future, I would have assumed they were insane. Four application attempts, and one phone interview later; I was finally selected to take part in the Disney College Program. This amazing program not only gave me the chance to learn more about the company but also how to create so many magical memories.

During my six month internship, I worked on the merchandise end of Disney Springs. If you have never visited there (HIGHLY RECOMMEND), it’s an upscale shopping center with a unique twist. Almost everything there is in the spirit of Disney: from the fashion to the food! I had the chance to work at several of the stores in the Springs including Disney’s Days of Christmas, Art of Disney, Goofy’s Candy Company, Pin Traders, Star Wars Trading Post, and the World of Disney. What I didn’t know during the beginning of my internship was that those locations each contained a unique story. In fact, Disney is one never-ending story. Cast members are putting on a performance through costumes, communication, and their overall presentation to the general public. It takes a great amount of effort to create such a special environment, and that only made me gain a greater appreciation towards my role.

On the topic of merchandise and performances; there are a plethora of marketing tactics that go into Disney Springs. I was fortunate enough to be able to look at those strategies through a media and communications lens. Within the various months from the spring to the late summertime, I observed how products were advertised on various platforms, as well as how guests reacted to either the addition or subtraction of different items. In June, I remember taking a marketing seminar sponsored by the World of Disney, and learning how Disney Springs tells a story through their various media platforms. There’s always a pattern of adventure, which further breeds the magic.

Another important lesson I learned during my program was time management. My closest friends know I’m the queen of procrastination, but I was determined to get rid of that title. Although there were temptations around such as Facebook and Netflix, I knew that working for such a prestigious company required complete focus. I always made sure to plan out my schedule accordingly depending on the time of my shift and the amount of hours working that day. Sometimes, I ended up arriving to my shift a half an hour earlier due to the bus schedule, but it’s always better to be ahead of time than late. Don’t worry, I did wiggle in some room for sleeping in, and visiting the parks during my days off!

Like any internship for a renowned company, there are bound to be “off days”. You may be asking how an incredible place like Disney can be so chaotic. Trust me, there were times when certain situations got the best of me. Luckily, I had such a wonderful support group through my work family, as well as my actual family hundreds of miles away back in New Jersey. It’s very normal to feel overwhelmed with any job no matter the company’s popularity. As long as you remember that everything will work out in the end, anything is possible. Just look at the creator of the mouse himself. He created Mickey at a time when he and his family had very little money, and he took a major financial risk to create Disneyland. People even assumed the man was crazy. In the end, Walt overcame those major hurdles and became a success. If Mr. Disney can do the impossible, then so can you!

Most importantly, always rock your best smile. Positive attitudes are contagious and can turn anyone’s cloudy day into a sunny one. We all have been at fault for getting frustrated at the most minor situations, such as getting stuck in traffic, accidentally burning food, or forgetting the key to the apartment. During my program, I met guests from all over the globe, and some of them were going through unfortunate situations. Despite the various things that weighed down on their shoulder, they managed to remain optimistic. It made me regret getting agitated over the smallest issues but gave me a better perspective about looking at the brighter side of life. It even warms the heart to realize how your most minor actions make a massive difference to anyone’s day.

The Disney College Program taught me so many new perspectives about life, making different stories, and creating one’s own destiny. Although I’m glad to be back home, I will never forget the valuable lessons learned along the way. I highly recommend for anyone who LOVES Disney to apply for this incredible program. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to become part of a welcoming family and create endless magic!

To learn more about the Disney College Program, visit the website: https://jobs.disneycareers.com/disney-college-program