How far you’ll go after your Disney College Program: Alumni success stories, part 1

Have you ever wondered how far you could go after your Disney College Program? The possibilities are endless, but whatever Disney career you choose is sure to bring magic, memories, and impact others! We caught up with six College Program alumni who shared about their programs, what they do in their current roles, and words of encouragement for aspiring cast members. They are proof that your College Program is just the beginning of it all!

Alton Bell – Senior sports event manager

Explain your current role.
I have the honor to host our clients and guests as senior sports event manager at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World® Resort. Our team is responsible for the planning of sports and multifunction events hosted at our location in close partnership with many value chain professionals who facilitate the execution of our world-class events.

When did you do the College Program?
I did my College Program in spring 2007 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

Why did you do the Disney College Program?
I am a lifelong fan of Disney! I could think of no better place to begin my professional career than by being part of the Disney College Program.

What’s a special memory from your College Program?
My favorite memories revolve around the great people I connected with during the Disney College Program. Whether it was a trip to Cape Canaveral to see a shuttle launch or an evening after a shift in a park, these moments have led to amazing friendships which continue to this day.

How did your program experience help you in your current role?
Beyond the significant exposure to our Disney culture, the College Program allowed me to see partnerships across many lines of business for the ultimate goal of creating great experiences for our guests.

What advice do you have for participants that want to build a career at Disney after their program?
Two aspects you may consider as you look to build a career following your Disney College Program are engaging with your leaders and networking. Having conversations with your leaders about their background and your intentions for future career growth is extremely beneficial. And as a next step from that, with their guidance, explore opportunities to network within your interested area. The combination of these, leader engagement and networking, along with personal focus, provided me an opportunity to enter an events-focused role following my College Program.

Alton working at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort

Andra Varney – Event services manager

Explain your current role.
As an event services manager with Disney Imagination Campus and Celebration & Events, I work with youth, sports, corporate and local social groups on private catered events along with servicing their group room blocks at Disney Resorts.

When did you do the College Program?
I did my College Program in the spring of 2012 as a food and beverage hostess at Pop Century – Everything POP!

Why did you do the Disney College Program?
Coming from a small college, we did not have any information on the program, but I meet a student who had participated. They had great things to say about the program, and with my love for Walt Disney World, I wanted to apply!

What’s a special memory from your College Program?
My favorite work memory was being able to help train the new food and beverage host and hostess for the Art of Animation food court. My favorite memory outside of work was being one of the first guests to experience the Art of Animation Resort by participating in one of the test stays.

How did your program experience help you in your current role?
Having firsthand experience of working at the Pop Century Resort has made it very beneficial for serving my groups that have room blocks at the Resort.

What advice do you have for participants that want to build a career at Disney after their program?
Build on every cast relationship. Everyone will always remember how you made them feel. You never know when you will work with someone again.

Jessica Zaucha – Disney Programs project manager

Explain your current role.
As a Disney Programs project manager, I oversee the facilities, contracts and vendors for our legacy housing complexes that we still manage along with projects for overall programs including Flamingo Crossings Town Center openings, managing our fiscal budget, and assisting with planning capstone celebrations for participants. Really, I try to help out anywhere I can!

When did you do the College Program?
I did my College Program in the fall of 2009. I worked at ESPN Club at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort in full-service food and beverage as a seater/hostess and general teller.

Why did you do the Disney College Program?
I frequently came to Disney growing up and knew the parks so well as a guest, but I wanted to learn more about Disney and how this huge company ran and operated. So once I heard about the College Program while in school, I knew this was the best way to start!

What’s a special memory from your College Program?
My last shift was on New Year’s Eve at the Atlantic Dance Hall (I worked there some evenings since our managers worked here and ESPN), and I was standing near the front of the stage while we had our countdown for the guests. I just remember the confetti blasting behind me when we reached 2010 and thinking how amazing it was to be a part of this evening and that my program was coming to such an epic close. I knew then that this wasn’t going to be the last time I worked at Disney.

How did your program experience help you in your current role?
I learned a lot on my program including so many transferable skills, especially with customer service. I also learned how valuable networking was within this company.

What advice do you have for participants that want to build a career at Disney after their program?
Network! This company may be very large, but I am always so surprised when I hear how many people are connected and know one another. You never know who you may meet with who may know someone else in your dream role.

Stay tuned for the next edition of our “How Far You’ll Go” series next week! We will continue sharing the stories of more great Disney cast members and employees.

In the meantime, start building your Disney career! Visit DisneyPrograms.com and apply to the Disney College Program today!