From Disney College Program to Disney Professional Internship (and how to get there!)
Ever wondered what it’s like to transition from a Disney College Program to a Disney Professional Internship? What are the differences? Which one is a better fit for you? Kristen and Anthony have traveled down this same path and here to shed some light on these questions. As cast members who were participants on the College Program and moved to an internship right after, Kristen and Anthony describe their experiences and learnings from these roles:
Kristen: During my College Program (CP), I stayed at Vista Way and fell in love with the complex. Living with five other women from all over the country was a great learning experience and loads of fun, even during the challenging times. During my Professional Internships (PIs), I chose to live offsite in the nearby Kissimmee area, but near Disney Housing since that’s where I worked every day!
Anthony: I was also at Vista Way for my CP, which I loved. I currently live at Falcon Square, which is the Disney-sponsored housing complex for PIs. A big difference between CP and PI housing is that you pay a little more, but you also have more amenities. Some of these include a housekeeper every two weeks, as well as daily trash valet, which is super convenient.
Kristen: Many participants know about the classes the Disney Internships and Programs Education team offers for College, Culinary and International participants; however, there are also learning opportunities for PIs. I chose to do my PIs after earning my Bachelor’s degree, and I am glad for the experience and networking opportunities these classes provided me. During my PIs and my CP, I also took advantage of the Disney Learning Center. They have books, movies and games you can borrow, as well as a great computer lab and Wi-Fi internet lounge for studying.
Anthony: As a CP, I took advantage of the many resources offered at the Disney Learning Center, as well as the guest speaker seminars. What many don’t know is that PIs are also able to utilize these offerings. As a PI, you may also have additional opportunities to take part in. The interns from my department gather monthly to partake in activities and seminars that aid in both our personal and professional development.
Kristen: Both PIs I completed were backstage at Disney Internships and Programs Education and at Disney Housing Operations and were more closely related to my field of study. Overall, I was also given more day-to-day responsibilities. During my CP, I was a custodial cast member at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, so I constantly needed to know the latest information about what the parks had to offer and how to create the best experience for our guests.
Anthony: Going from my CP at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort to my PI at Disney Housing Operations was a big adjustment. As a CP, there were some days where I would close and then open the very next day. For my PI, my hours became set, and the dynamic of my day-to-day role changed. I went from assisting guests with questions about the parks and resorts, to assisting program participants with the living, learning and earning portions of their programs.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE PROFESSIONAL INTERNS
Kristen: Work hard at whatever you do, even if you aren’t currently a cast member. After my College Program, I chose to return home to Missouri to complete my degree and gain more experience. Personally, this was the best choice I could have made because it gave me the opportunity to pursue other internship opportunities which built my résumé. I believe I was accepted as a PI three years after my CP in 2013 because of my experience on the College Program, but also my references and experience outside the company. Whatever you do and wherever you are, work hard and don’t give up!
Anthony: If you’re currently on a College Program, my biggest piece of advice would be to treat every day as if it’s a job interview. Recruiters can and will look to your old leaders regarding your performance, so give them a reason to be impressed. If you’ve never done a program and are looking to start with the company through a Professional Internship, do your research on what you are applying for. From there, make sure that your cover letter and résumé best project who you are and why you would be great for that particular role. Professional Internships are competitive, but they’re also obtainable. Stay motivated, and give it your best shot.