Disney College Program Participant

Emily Major
Emily Major
Emphasis Area
Spatial Organization & Design Thinking

Emily Major pursued a lifeline dream of working in the Disney College Program and gained experience in providing exceptional customer service.

Why did you choose this internship?

I wanted to participate in the Disney College Program (DCP) for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure where I heard about it first; it was either on social media or through my uncle who did it when he was in college. Prior to going into college, participating in the DCP was one of my biggest goals. I wanted to do it because of my immense love for the Disney Company and the parks, and also in my extensive research of former program participant reviews I read so many stories about how the program changed the course of people's careers and lives for the better. 

How did you get your internship?

I began the process by applying on the Disney Programs / Disney Careers website. I recall the application process being fairly simple. After that, I got an email with a link to do a web based interview and that had questions about what kind of workplaces I like to be in, how I am in certain workplaces, and how I would react to certain situations in the workplace. After that interview, I completed a phone interview. In this second interview, I was about my previous work experience, which role I was interested in, my relationship with the Disney parks and company, and other general interview questions. Finally I got an acceptance email during the first wave of acceptances! This all happened within a span of about two and a half weeks and about six months prior to the start of my internship.

What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience?

In general, the DCP is a paid job working in Walt Disney World. When I applied there weren’t preferences on what role you got, but I believe that preferences are more matched for applicants now. Program participants are placed in any of the four parks, resorts, or Disney Springs, which is their huge outdoor shopping center. Some of the roles you could get within those locations are merchandise, attractions, food and beverage, or entertainment. For my DCP I got placed in Epcot Festivals Quick Service Food and Beverage where I worked at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival booths serving food and drinks and taking orders. I did this for a couple months before I was deployed to another location in Epcot called Connections Eatery. This is the main quick service restaurant in the park and here I did the same thing I did in festivals but on a bigger scale.

What was your favorite part of your internship?

My favorite part of my internship was the fact that I was working in Walt Disney World. A Cast Member’s job is to make magic and create happiness for all the guests coming to visit. Working at Disney World was super meaningful to me because I have so many memories of visits to the parks and having really great interactions with cast members and now it’s me who gets to be in the role of a cast member. Sometimes I would be working and it would hit me that I was getting to create meaningful moments for these guests who sometimes were taking a once in a lifetime trip to Disney World. If it wasn’t the once in a lifetime guest I was helping, maybe I was enhancing the visit of a guest who had an annual pass and visited often and I was creating a new memory for them out of the many they had already made. Finding ways to make magic was my favorite part of going into work everyday. It didn’t have to be a huge grand gesture, even a smile went a long way.

What did you find challenging about your internship?

The most challenging part was for sure my work and life balance. As a cast member, I got a pass that let me into the parks for free. So every chance I got outside of my 35-40 hour work week, I was at the parks exploring things that I normally wouldn’t have time for on a standard trip to Disney. I struggled with making and setting aside time to do homework, chores, or run errands. As I got more settled and my program went on I got better with my time management because I had spent so much time checking things off my Disney parks bucket list. Once I got towards the end of my program I wanted to use up every moment I had to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do when I moved back home.

How has your internship experience influenced your plans for the future?

Growing up I always saw myself working in the Walt Disney Company and as I am coming to a close on my college career that’s where I still see myself. Now that I have worked in Walt Disney World and have experienced the values and ideals firsthand, I know that working for this company is definitely something I still want to pursue. I love the history and stories behind everything they do, and working in the parks I got to meet so many people from different places and backgrounds. After I graduate, I can definitely see myself coming back to Disney World and working my way up, or maybe looking at opportunities at Disneyland in California, which is the park I grew up going to.

What advice do you have for other students as they search for and/or begin their internship?

I think it’s important to find an internship that you feel passionate about. When you’re passionate about something, your personality really shows through and you want to excel in the tasks given to you in the internship. Even if the internship seems scary, throw your whole self into it. For my internship, moving to Florida all by myself felt really scary, but I came out on the other end with so many new friends, personal growth, and professional growth. A big thing about being passionate about something is that you will do the work so much better than if you didn’t like what you were doing