Where: Disneyland in Anaheim, California OR Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida(or Orlando if you prefer)
Who: College Students
When: Fall or Spring semester for different program lengths (Spring, Spring Advantage, Fall, Fall Advantage)
How: By applying during the appropriate time by visiting this website.
Why: It's a semester long paid internship in California OR Florida. Yes, that's right, it's a paid internship.
With the basics cleared up, I have to admit that I'm actually surprised I haven't done a post like this before. After thinking of what to write about, this is something that has affected me so I decided why not? If you love Disney, keep reading. If not, that's okay, I understand. Since I did my college program at Walt Disney World, most of what I will tell you is based on the Walt Disney World College Program in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. So, let's get started if you're still with me. Warning: This post is kind of long.
It's a paid internship for a Fortune 500 Company. When I was looking for a internship in college, many of the fashion internships I came across were in NYC and unpaid. While some people can afford to live in NYC and work for nothing, I couldn't afford that. I know many other college students can't either. So, Disney decided about 30 years ago to offer a paid internship in sunny Florida or California that would pay college students to work at the Happiest Place on Earth or the Most Magical Place on Earth. Naturally, many Disney-lovers jumped at the opportunity. I was one of them. While the internship won't make you a millionaire, you will have money to survive on. I was able to complete my internship at this resort working as a merchandise cast member!
Disney's Polynesian Resort aka my home away from home
You get into the parks for FREE. This is huge for Disney lovers. I worked at Walt Disney World, so I loved being able to go into Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or Disney's Hollywood Studios(formerly MGM Studios) for free anytime it was open. That is one of the biggest perks for working for The Walt Disney Company. During special times, you can also get into the two waterparks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, for free. Now if you keep up with Disney at all, then you will know that Disney World recently increased their prices from $89 to $95 a day for adults for access to Magic Kingdom and $90 for access to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Disneyland increased their prices from $87 to $92. I'm providing links so you can see how much of a luxury it is being able to go to Disney, period. I could write more on how amazing this is, and yes there were a couple times that I got tired of going to the parks, but if I was tired of one or two, there were still other entertainment options on and off property.
Access to beaches in sunny Florida. Since I'm from Kentucky, the only water around me is lakes and pools. I LOVE going to the beach so this was another thing that was a great bonus to working for the mouse. For my birthday last year, my friends and I took a day trip to Siesta Key, Florida for the day. It was a 2 hour drive but Cocoa Beach is an hour drive. Either way, you have beautiful beaches close to you so you can take a day trip on your days off.
Me, my friend Danielle, & my friend(now boyfriend) Joe beachin' it at Siesta Key.
Living in fully furnished apartments. So not only do you get to work in Florida, Disney provides a place for you to live too. Now, since it is a college program, you will have roommates as if you were back at your home university in a dorm. Each week, Disney takes a small portion of your paycheck and that is used for your rent. I lived at Patterson Court which was the newest apartment complex, but there are other options as well like Vista Way and Chatham Square. They are located about 15-20 minutes from Walt Disney World Property and they have a bus system that will transport you to and from work. You share a room with one other person and you can either have a 1, 2, 3, or 4 bedroom apartment so you can either share it with 1 other person or up to 7. I lived in a 3 bedroom with 5 other people. If you want to know more about the apartments, feel free to ask me!
Patterson Court -- Where I lived!
Networking Opportunities Whether you are working in attractions, custodial, housekeeping, merchandising(like me), front desk, recreation, quick or full service food and beverage, or any of the other roles, you will work with other cast members and have the ability to network with your leaders. This is a great opportunity, especially if you need a letter of recommendation or career advice down the line! I was able to get to know our area merchandise manager of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Disney's Polynesian Resort which was awesome when it came to deciding whether or not I wanted to extend my program or return home to get my MBA. She was able to give me great advice that I greatly appreciate. I know networking sounds boring, but in the present day, it's not all about the education and work experience that you have, it's who you know that can help you get to where you want to be. Network, network, network! This goes for anywhere you are, not just if you do the Disney College Program! However, Disney is awesome about having networking seminars and other opportunities. Through my Exploring: Marketing seminar class that I took, I was able to meet several cast members who worked in areas like Special Events Marketing and Vacation Club marketing. It's what inspired me to work towards my MBA so one day I can be on the Special Events marketing team for events like Epcot's Food & Wine Festival and HGTV'S Flower & Garden Festival.
Diversity While I was completing my DCP, I was able to meet people from all over the world. Disney offers the Disney International College Program(ICP) which allows college students in other countries to come to America to work at Disney World. One of my favorite people that I met on my CP was Angie, an ICP from Guatamala. There's also students from France, England, Australia, Thailand, and so many other countries. Also, you will meet people from all over the United States too! Some of my best friends now live in Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, California, and Mississippi! You will be able to meet so many people who will grow to be life long friends if you keep in touch with each other! My best friend, Dani, from the program is actually coming to see me next month and I cannot wait!
Food inside and outside of Disney's Property Okay, so you may laugh at me for this one, but go ahead. The food in Florida is awesome. I am a foodie and discovered that we need a Sweet Tomatoes, Chipotle, Earl of Sandwich, and Bahama Breeze's here in Kentucky. I also need a Swirl Pineapple Dole Whip in my life. In case you missed this post, I also wrote about the Frozen Red Stag Lemonade that you can find in the America Pavilion at Epcot. I need one of those in my life too. Basically, the food in Orlando is awesome and I would need another blog post to give it justice. Maybe it's not THE best reason to do the DCP, but it's a reason. If you like traveling and like trying new food, this is the place to do it.
College Credit/Educational Opportunities. Well since it is a paid internship in Florida where you can meet awesome people and network, it would PROBABLY be awesome if your school would give you college credit for you too, right? Right. Disney knows this and some universities and major programs will give students college credits toward their degrees. Unfortunately mine did not give me credit, but it's okay. I completed another internship during the summer before my last semester and then applied my final semester in college for the DCP. Therefore, I had already fulfilled my college requirements to graduate and I could still pretend to be a college kid before coming back to reality once I got back home.
Yes, I have a Bachelor's Degree and a Mouseters Degree. I know I'm awesome...haha.
Other Fun Attractions in Orlando I love Disney, don't get me wrong. However, just as with anything else, sometimes you get tired of the same routine. That's when you go exploring OTHER parts of Orlando. If you want to go to another theme park, there's Universal Studios or Sea World to go explore. I got an annual pass to Universal Studios and it was a great decision. In the three visits it paid for itself AND I could go to Disney or Universal anytime I wanted. Yes, I realize how spoiled this makes me sound but it was awesome. There are also fun things to do in Downtown Orlando like go to Orlando Magic basketball games, shopping at places like the Florida Mall(my personal favorite), Pointe Orlando, and if you are into clubs/bars, there are some great choices for that too! However, I didn't do much drinking down there unless it was at Epcot or at the apartment complexes! I was able to see 4 concerts while I was down there(thanks to my roomies loving concerts like me), and I know without this opportunity, I may not have seen them in Kentucky unless they came to Nashville. Even then it's a slim chance!
The People You'll Meet Working for Disney was one of the best experiences for me personally because of the people that I met. I met some of my best friends down there and yes, even my boyfriend. I had a great time interacting with guests who were visiting Walt Disney World for the first or whatever number visit. I made lifelong friends from all over the country like I mentioned earlier but one of the best things that happened to me was that I met my boyfriend, Joe, down there. Everything happens for a reason and since returning home, I still keep in touch with my favorite people. I met some of my best friends down there and I miss them every day. Since we left, a few of us had a reunion trip back in January, so some of these pictures below are from that.
My bestie, Danielle, and my other best friend/boyfriend, Joseph on his 21st birthday!
Yes, I met my boyfriend at Disney World. :) Love him!
So there you go, in a REALLY long post, 10 reasons why YOU should apply for the Disney College Program! Need more info/want to figure out when to apply? Click this link! Thanks if you stuck through and read the whole post! I realize it was long! Have a great weekend!