A number of different majors on campus require students to do an internship before they can graduate. It has to be a sufficient number of hours, and it has to relate to their major in some way.
Although the university does all it can to find students appropriate intern positions, sometimes the task can be frustrating.
However, one Fortune 500 company comes to campus every semester to recruit students of all majors for a life-enhancing experience.
Each fall and spring, a recruiter comes to UMHB and does a presentation about the world of Disney and all it has to offer.
At the conclusion, a potential hire is given the opportunity to fill out an application and is interviewed on the spot.
About three weeks later, applicants receive letters explaining if they’ve been selected or not.
If chosen to be a cast member, students fly or drive to Orlando, Fla., where a fully furnished apartment is waiting for them.
Students have the choice to live with one or five roommates, who could come from anywhere around the world.
After arriving on the Disney property, interns take a class called Traditions where the cast members are given the history of the company.
Afterwards, they are plugged into a variety of jobs including entertainment, merchandise, lifeguard, park operations, quick-service food, culinary and others. Additionally, they may take courses for college credit at Disney University.
Professor of communication and media studies Dr. Diane Howard, along with a couple of on-campus Disney representatives, are the contacts for the recruiter. They help to get the word out to the students about presentations by putting up posters and chalking the sidewalk.
“I think it is an excellent program for a proactive student who will take advantage of the many opportunities that it offers,” Howard said. “It provides opportunities for ongoing career training in communication, science, marketing, entertainment, hospitality, guest services and more.”
Will Johnson, a UMHB alum, went through two internships with Disney. He worked in the entertainment department and is now a full- time cast member.
“I started on the program back in 2006 doing the spring advantage program. As of now, I am trained in most of the shows and parades at Hollywood Studios including Block Party, and High School Musical 3,” he said.
Johnson is also involved with the Season Christmas show that is performed on stage in front of Cinderella’s castle.
He considers it a great honor.
Recently, junior computer graphics design major Holly Gaskamp was selected to be a part of the college program in the spring.
She first heard about the opportunity as a freshmen and has now decided to take the plunge.
“For a while, I thought it would be silly for me to do an internship where I’m lifeguarding when I have places in my field of work I could intern with,” she said. “But the way I see it, I’m still at one of the biggest companies in the world and a proactive person can reap huge benefits from this situation.”