Micky Mouse Job: Work where the magic lives with the Disney College Program.
Each year, the largest and most famous of theme parks imports hundreds of college students to Orlando, FL, to help keep throngs of Disney visitors happy. Disney interns do everything from picking up trash on Pleasure Island to selling tickets at EPCOT in exchange for a competitive salary and an apartment for which rent is deducted from your paycheck. “It’s a great experience. I definitely recommend it,” says Kami Tasndy, who worked as a Disney intern before her senior year at East Stroudsberg University.
Tasndy says just about everyone in her program loved it, which may be why Disney internships are not easy to land. “It’s pretty competitive. There definitely aren’t as many jobs as there are applicants,” she explains. For the privilege selling mouse ears for the summer, you need to fill out an application and go through two rounds of interviews.
To make sure you’re the Mouseketeer chosen, “you need to have a good idea of why you want to work there and what you’ll get out of it,” Tasndy says. Try to find a better reason than unlimited rides on the Teacups. Explain, perhaps, that you’re a marketing or business major and that a summer at Disney will help you better understand customer relations and get close to the inner workings of a major entertainment corporation. Or something like that.
To get a job with the Disney College Program, you must:
�Have completed at least one semester and be in good academic standing at a college or university
�Attend a Walt Disney World College Program presentation to learn about program opportunities and sign up for an interview
�Complete an employment application
�Interview with a Walt Disney World College Program recruiter
�Undergo a criminal background investigation
Disney’s recruiting team visits colleges and universities all over the country to interview students wishing to be considered for the Disney College Program. Visit the College Program homepage for specific information regarding the application and scheduled interview dates at schools near you.
Once You’re In
Don’t expect to dress up as Snow White or one of the dwarfs. Disney interns run rides, sell merchandise and tickets, help in restaurants, drive trams, work the front desk, and clean rooms-all with a big smile. While there are IT and management related intern positions too, the above mentioned jobs tend to be the majority of the interns Disney hires. The Disney intern mantra is “what can we do to make guests happy?” Tasndy explains that “like any service job, you run into difficult people. It can be tough to smile at the end of the day, but you have to.” Because there is such a strong customer service component, this internship is not for everyone.
Customer service at Disney is taken a few steps farther than it is at the Hilton or McDonald’s. “You don’t do anything to ruin the magic for visitors, especially kids,” Tasndy says. “The Alice in Wonderland ride is never broken; Alice went to a tea party and she’ll be back soon.”
Interns list their top choices, but aren’t guaranteed any position. Tasndy worked in several of the restaurants at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club. “I made reservations, sat people, and assigned tables. Interns aren’t allowed to be servers, because tips would throw off the pay scale,” she explains.
There’s plenty that sets a Disney internship apart from a typical minimum wage job. Free unlimited access to all rides in all parks at any time you’re not working is a big benefit. Of greater long-term value are the classes you attend, the networking you can do, and the fact that a Disney internship stands out on a resume.
“We took classes every week where we learned all about how the business was run, and I learned more there than in many of my college classes,” Tasndy says. Plus, she explains, in and out of class you can network for future opportunities and pick the brains of all your mentors. When she looked for jobs after her internship, prospective employers were impressed by her Disney experience.
And you never know what else might make your internship memorable. “When I was at Disney I met so many Japanese tourists that I started to pick up conversational Japanese,” Tasndy says. She also got to do a little golf-star gazing when she signed up to work extra hours at a major golf tournament Disney World hosted.
You’ll also make plenty of new friends. When there are hundreds of college students living together in one building, a cohesive community grows. According to Tasndy, “we went out together all the time. I still keep in touch with several people I met through the Disney College Program.”