Old Dominion University has partnered with the Walt Disney Company to provide students with an opportunity to work in the Disney College Program. This program is designed for current college students to receive valuable, on-the-job experience in Disney parks and resorts, as well as to expand a student’s knowledge in the classroom with international students.
Disney Campus Representatives Brooke Heath and Arielle Lange teamed up with the Career Management Center to introduce the program to current ODU students and share information about the program prior to the prospective student’s application process.
Students can attend an on campus presentation where a Disney representative will explain to them the different work options available, living arrangements, earnings, and any other miscellaneous information about the program that students need to apply. The two locations that the program offers for employment are The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida and the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.
During the program, students are provided with living arrangements during the semester. Students are provided a fully-furnished apartment with all utilities included in Anaheim and Orlando, where the cost of living varies in both locations.
The program is a paid-internship. Participants may work indoors or outdoors depending on their role and location as a Disney cast member. Students will be put on a full-time work schedule and must have full work ability including days, nights, weekends, and holidays. Work schedules vary seasonally.
Some areas students are employed in are Attractions, Guest Research, Resort Transportation and Parking, PhotoPass Photography, Park Greeting and Main Entrance Operations. These jobs are designed to enhance a student’s communication skills, problem-solving skills, and develop their confidence and self-reliance. Upon their completion of the college program, they are eligible for a Disney Professional Internship which grants them the opportunity to work in a field that’s more associated with their major.
Students have the opportunity to take several different types of Disney education courses that can possibly earn them college credit. Some of the courses available include Corporate Communications, Human Resources Management, Interactive Learning Program, Marketing/Career Development Strategies and Organizational Leadership.
Programs generally last for a full academic semester either in the fall or spring. The current application process is open and the program is now accepting students for the spring 2013 semester. Students who would like more information on the program can log on and apply on their website at cp.disneycareers.com or visit the Career Management Center on campus if they have any other questions.
Below are several former cast member students who have shared their experiences while at the program and the lifelong memories that the program has given them along the way.
New York (State):
Malcolm Davis, 23 Bronx, NY: “When I first arrived as a part of the Disney College Program, I had second thoughts. Little did I know it would be one of the most fulfilling experiences to date! I met some of the most amazing people and network contacts who still remain in my life until this day! Words cannot express how important the program was to my life and what it still is today! Learning the ropes of a Fortune 500 company and all of the perks of a culturally diverse experience make it all worthwhile. I would recommend this program to anyone and everyone looking to gain experience in an internship! It’s worth the time and money!”
Rachel Mary, 23, Albany, New York: “I worked in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom as a Merchandise cast member. The five months I spend there in 2009 were the most thrilling, exciting, and unforgettable ones of my life. I made the best friends I could ever have asked for from all over the country and the world. The Disney College Program is an experience I would highly recommend to anyone interested in a great work and living environment. My friends and roommates from the program are the best I could ask for! It is also a fantasy company to work for, and will teach you professionalism and how to deal with really any given situation.”
Stephen Mliczek, 23, Nutley, NJ: “I participated in the Disney College Program from January 7th to May 15th 2009. I resided in company provided housing for the duration of the program. It was first time in my life that I was really on my own and it was actually quite enjoyable earning and providing for myself. My role during the program was Monorail Operations, which included loading and unloading guests at these parks and resorts, as well as piloting the monorails and transporting guests. I met many people during my college program, several whom I remain in touch with today. I would recommend the Disney College Program to everyone! It’s an amazing, resume-enhancing experience, and quite the adventure!”
Michael Borne, 23, New Orleans, LA: “I worked at Tomorrowland and Fantasyland mainly from January to May 2009 and went back in May 2010 for a week. I worked Custodial and was assigned to Liberty Square a few times. I learned how to live on my own and meet new people.”
Atoosa Ryanne, 24, Atlanta, Georgia: “I was in Tomorrowland Merchandise in the Magic Kingdom, which was awesome. I was working front-line, but I learned a lot that I became applicable to my next jobs. After the program, I became an Undergraduate Associate at Disney Consumer Products in Glendale, California, where I did publicity for Disney Publishing Worldwide. My next job was a Copywriter for DisneyStore.com, a position I got because I worked at the Parks in Merchandise and understood Parks culture. Most of my friends, I met there, some of whom are still some of my best friends to this day. During the college program, I took part in class for Corporate Analysis and Marketing. I’ve never made so many genuine friends so quickly.”
Nichole Baumann, 26, Belgium, Wisconsin: “I was a cast member for Pinocchio’s Village Haus in Fantasy Land at the Magic Kingdom. I was in the college program from February to August 2009 and afterward became a seasonal cast member for a year. The best experience that I gained from my time working for Disney was meeting new people from all around the world and learning more about their cultures. I learned about how different cultures interpret gestures that we (as Americans) do differently every day. It taught me about different backgrounds and that you must learn to adapt in your work environment. Overall, it was a magical experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
By: Brian Jerry