By Emily Keahey
As senior performance studies major Christina Welch enters the Walt Disney World Resort for the first time, a surreal feeling sweeps over her realizes this is much more than a normal internship.
The Disney College Program gives students an opportunity to get class credit and work experience, and making dreams come true is part of the job description.
In fact, computer graphics design major Holly Gaskamp best company to work for and … as cliché as it sounds, a dream come true.”
Any student at least 18 years old and currently taking accredited college
or university, with at least one semester completed may apply for the program.
Two locations are available: Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and
Disneyland Resort in California. The three main components of the program include living, learning and earning.
There are multiple living options depending on personal preference. A student can live in a one to four bedroom apartment and may have twoperson per bedroom occupancy, so an apartment could have one to eight occupants.
Apartment amenities are included. Interns have access to swimming pools, athletic courts and weight rooms.
Welch said she liked the housing.
“The apartments were really nice .… The only thing I paid for was food.”
The learning component gives students the opportunity to attend classes for personal and professional development. A wide variety of collegiate courses are offered.
Gaskamp said the “classes were the best I’ve ever taken in my life. I took Marketing You, which taught us how to be professional, and Creativity and Innovation, which was all about stepping outside the box and being a better thinker— both great classes. I highly recommend them.”
Along with the collegiate courses are other educational opportunities. professional development studies program is helpful for students in engineering, criminal justice, entertainment and finance.
The Disney exploration series offers students the opportunity to see how the Disney Resort works.
Communication and media studies professor Dr. Diane Howard is adviser for program interns at UMHB.
“Students who return to UMHB from the Disney College Program exhibit more confidence and communication areas: multiculturalism, problem- solving, public speaking, and interpersonal communication,” Howard said.
The third component is earning, which is all about the “role” the intern gets to play at the resort. Disney is there to entertain guests, so employees do not wear uniforms. They wear costumes.
An intern’s job can range from playing a Disney character in the park to being a concierge or working on an attraction.
The first internship that students do is considered basic, and then they may apply for a professional internship, which allows them to work more in their major.
Interns also get free admission to the parks and discounts on resort accommodations and merchandise.
They are invited to cast member activities, first looks at new openings in the parks, a formal at the end of the program and much more.
Stephen Nelson, a UMHB graduate who participated in the internship program and eventually was hired as a research specialist said, “The
College Program is truly what you make of it. If you come to Orlando seeking a vacation, you won’t grow. The internship requires hard work and
networking in order to really gain some excellent experience. Believe me when I say, whether you choose to stay with Disney or not, the knowledge
and skills you gain while on the College Program will most definitely change you for the better.”