Emily West 2

After spending a year and a half on academic schooling, I reached a point in my educational career where I wanted to build my work experience in a unique way, which would stand out on a resume. While looking through a web search for internships, the Disney College Program caught my eye. As I was born in California and made multiple trips to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, this program seemed like the perfect fit.

The Disney College program is offered in both California and Florida. The program duration is about 4 months, either in the spring from January to May or August to January, with the option to extend your program for a longer period of time.

The application process was quite simple. I began by selecting the potential roles I wanted. Roles in the College Program can range from being an Attraction’s host, working in food and beverage, being a character performer, or working in recreation. After completing the website forms, I was invited to the next step, the web based interview. The web-based interview asked me an assorted questions to see if I am the quality of worker that Disney wanted. The last step in the process is the phone interview in which I spoke to a Disney recruiter about my desires for working for Disney, and what role would be best suited for me. A few weeks later, I received an email saying that I had been accepted for the spring and would be placed in the recreation section.

In April 2015, I arrived in Orlando and was told I was going to work as a slide operator at Blizzard Beach, one of Disney’s waterparks, Right after I arrived, I was placed into training. During the two weeks of training, I learned the values and the ideals of the company, followed by an overview of the branch of the company for which I was working, and finally on the job training.

While my major may not be in recreation, the skills I learned from working for Disney can be applied to any business major or any major in general:

  • Have a positive attitude– While working for Disney, your goal as a cast member is to “create happiness” for the guest. I would sometimes be placed working with people who weren’t in the best of mood, which then projects a negative image for our guest. When those situations occurred, I tried to remain cheerful, help and positive, so I could contribute to the magical environment.
  • The ability to adapt to change– In the business world, nothing ever stays the same. That same saying can apply to working for Disney. I was flexible in my work schedule, adapted to change in work site and was quick on my feet to deal with emergency safety issues that presented at the water park slides. When I first arrived, my waterpark wasn’t busy but by Memorial Day, I was working 12 to 13 hour shifts in the summer Florida weather. I had to work smart and work safe every day.
  • Using my resources in the most efficient way– The business side of the Disney waterparks required employees to follow all safety guidelines. I was never afraid to ask a supervisor for help or a coworker to give me a hand. I knew that we were a team and we had to work together, after all “teamwork makes the dream work.”
  • Key attention to detail– In the business world, key attention to details can help make your company stand out from competitors or help you find mistakes before they happen. Disney knows this rule and practices it at every turn. I learned in my training how to use the Disney two finger point, how to great guest, and gained the knowledge to answer every possible question about the waterpark!

For me, the college program has been the highlight of my college. Although I had some struggles on the program; I would not trade my experience for the world. From this program, I have gained life-long friendships from all over the US and internationally. It was a life-changing experience that helped me develop customer service skills and become more independent and mature.

Emily West

UCF College of Business, Finance Major