I spent this past Sunday in New York City, but not for the reasons you’d think. I didn’t go to see Time Square or the Empire State Building. I didn’t see much at all, apart from Penn Station and Pearl Studios. I was there as part of my application process for the Disney College Program. For about six hours, I crowded into mirrored rooms with nearly four hundred other people, waiting to figure out whether I had what it takes to be a Disney performer. I won’t know for another month what the results of the audition were, but even if that audition didn’t work out, I already have a spot in the program working in Rides and Attractions.
The Disney College program is a co-op program that gives college students a chance to work for a Fortune 500 entertainment company, learn the ins and outs of hospitality and tourism or business management, and network with students and professionals in all lines of work. I’ve been accepted into the program for the Fall Advantage term, which runs from May until January, at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida.
Having worked at Six Flags for several years, I already have a few ideas about what it means to work in a theme park environment, especially in the entertainment department. Naturally, I figured shows and entertainment would be the best place for me in Disney. All the years spent talking over a microphone, learning choreography, and performing in front of a crowd prepared me well for what I met in New York on Sunday. But since the nationwide audition series will see roughly 2,000 people competing for 200 positions, I’m not sure what will happen. However, since Disney is all about creating magical storytelling experiences for guests, I’m sure my performing skills will be helpful to me in Attractions as well.
The program places students in a variety of roles, including attractions, retail, food service, hospitality, and more. While employed, students live in company-sponsored housing with other participants from all over the world, and are given access to numerous opportunities including networking events, specialized classes, and even on-site career counseling. Like most co-op programs, the Disney College Program allows you to earn academic credit while you’re working in the parks. Since I’m graduating this May, I will not be taking advantage of this feature, but it’s a great opportunity for continuing students to maximize their college experience.
Applications are still being accepted for Fall and Fall Advantage terms on the Disney College program website, but they will close by the end of March. So if you’re interested in having experience with a major corporation on your resume, I’d suggest checking it out. If you have questions on internships and co-ops, ask the advisors at Career Services.