Jambo, everyone! My name is Braeden, and I am a former Disney College Program participant who landed a role as a talent acquisition marketing professional intern after my program. I can attest to the fact that a few months on a program can turn into a much greater adventure than expected. During my time as an attractions hostess at Festival of the Lion King in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, I was inspired to dream bigger and focus on building a career with The Walt Disney Company.
I will share with you the most important skills I learned throughout my experience and how they helped prepare me for a professional internship with Disney. Each role within the Disney College Program is unique, and each can teach many transferrable skills for future jobs!
While on my Disney College Program, I was located at Festival of the Lion King, a Broadway-style show filled with songs and performances based on the movie ‘The Lion King’. From stilt walkers to costumed dancers, acrobats and more, this spectacular is a colorful celebration of the circle of life. As an attractions hostess, my main responsibility was to assist guests entering and exiting the theater as well as assisting them during the live production. I even had the opportunity to become a trainer and welcome new cast members to our Festival of the Lion King family. Below I have outlined three key responsibilities of my role and how they prepared me for the duties I’d have in my new role.
#1: Working with diverse guests and cast
- Guests and cast members from all over the world come to Walt Disney World® Resort! Meeting everyone’s unique needs takes a lot of creative problem solving. Each circumstance required a customized approach and solution to best solve the situation at hand.
How it prepared me:
- This prepared me for my current role supporting international recruitment efforts and our wide variety of cast and crew from around the world. While I don’t work with guests on a regular basis like I did on my college program (I now work “backstage”, as we call it), I’m always building relationships with people all over the world and finding the best way to assist them.
- Strike up conversations with guests and cast members whenever possible! It’s a unique opportunity to have folks from all over the world here each day and their stories can be extremely eye–opening!
#2: Training new cast members
- As a trainer, I helped new cast members confidently complete all necessary job tasks, understand the resources the company provides, and get to know other cast members!
How it prepared me:
- I enjoyed this role so much that it inspired me to return to school and accept an internship working in human resources to further my work experience in this area. Ultimately, these experiences guided me to the talent acquisition work that I’m doing now.
- I truly don’t believe that I would have gotten the trainer role if I didn’t share my vision of my future with Disney with my leaders. Because I was open and honest with them about my goals, they knew to reach out to me when this position was posted. Follow your heart!
#3: Speaking to large volumes of guests
- While it was a skill I already had experience in, public speaking was a part of our show load process which happened numerous times a day. Speaking to a theater full of guests will bring anyone out of their shell!
How it prepared me:
- This repetition gave me the opportunity to build my confidence and made me more at ease in everyday conversation. I am more able to give cohesive and concise instructions and hold conversations with a wide variety of people. Whether I’m walking into an everyday meeting or a presentation to leadership, I feel confident that my public speaking skills help me represent myself well.
- No matter how confident you feel at a skill, there is always room for improvement. Seek out situations that will push you to improve and become the best version of yourself.
My advice for anyone with a similar dream would be to always keep your goal in mind and constantly be thinking of how you’re going to take the next right step down its path. Wishing is only the beginning! Have conversations with your leaders about your goals, and see if they have anyone they can connect you with for meet and greets (that’s Disney for scheduled time to network with someone). One of the most magical things about this company is that the opportunities are endless! I can’t wait to see where your Disney journey will take you.