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Disney College Program, a summer internship, pays a world of dividends

Distract yourself from college applications by reading how one college student found a great summer internship. In the coming weeks we'll run more internship profiles. Just think how far ahead of the internship game you'll be!

Molly Vazquez, Palm Harbor

UF senior, public relations major with business administration minor

Interned with: Disney College Program, or DCP, in merchandising

How did you hear about the opportunity?

I actually saw pictures on Facebook from a girl I knew in high school that she posted from her DCP. I messaged her and got a lot of information about it from her, and then I applied online. It's pretty funny I heard about an internship on Facebook, but that's not really surprising with our generation, I guess.

What's your advice for interviews?

Write out a list of possible questions they might ask and rehearse and practice your answers. You want to make sure your thoughts are clear and make sense. Usually in interviews you can get nervous, but if you practice beforehand it will help. I would also recommend bringing experiences you have had into your interview answers, whether it be from a leadership position you held in an organization or at work, to bring your answers to life.

What got you the gig?

My answers in my phone interview. As you can imagine Disney needs a "people person" and what better way to show that you are able to speak to strangers with ease than through a phone interview? I remained calm and collected but also tried to make my personality shine through.

What were your duties?

The Disney College Program is a paid work experience internship. You work in the front lines of business anywhere at the Walt Disney World Resort. When you apply, you rank roles from most interesting to not interesting, and I worked in Disney's Hollywood Studios in the merchandise locations at the front of the park. Some duties I had to do daily: greet and talk with guests, handle money, work the cash register, help guests locate items quickly and efficiently, make sure the store was pristine and stocked, and be able to answer questions guests may have about the park or their vacation to Disney in general. The most important duty I had was to make magic for our guests every day.

What wouldn't outsiders know about working there?

The magic does not fade. You work long and hard days, but on your days off when you walk into the Magic Kingdom it is just as exciting as when you were younger. You see a lot of the behind the scenes when working for Disney, but the magic and thrill of the parks never leaves you. I actually think I have more of an appreciation for the company now than ever.

What was the best part about working there?

The perks! Who doesn't love going to Disney for free? I'm kidding. Yes, that was a major perk, and believe me I took advantage of it and had the time of my life. Truly, the best part about working for Disney was the magic you created for your guests, whether that was giving a Mickey sticker to a kid, saying "have a magical day" or getting Goofy on the phone to tell a guest "happy birthday." That is what Disney is about, and I can't believe I got to be a part of it.

What did you learn working there?

What didn't I learn there would be a better question. I learned time management skills, how to network, how to handle a full-time job, how to speak with complete strangers, how to work with fellow cast members of all ages, how to work in a fast-paced environment while keeping my cool, how to be professional, how to land my dream job, the list could go on and on. The cool part about the DCP is that they provide classes for their college programs and you can earn college credit. I took the Corporate Communications class and also took Professional Workshop classes that ranged from resume writing to acing the interview.

Favorite moment on the job?

While working one day, a guest approached me and a fellow cast member and asked us if we could help her on a special project. Intrigued, we of course said yes. She told us that a very close family friend just had a baby boy, Max, and sadly there were many complications, and the guest told us there was a slim chance that Max was going to make it. At this point my fellow cast member, Katie, and I are holding back tears. She continued to tell us that the mother and father are huge Disney fans and when they were at Disney not too long ago they had purchased a Mickey ears hat with his name already on the back. She pulled out a picture of baby Max sleeping with his ears on. She told us she was compiling pictures of cast members holding the picture of Max and a sign that says "Stay Strong, Max" and wanted to know if we would take a picture for her. She asked us to find Goofy merchandise to wear in the picture because Goofy's son's name is Max, too. Katie and I ran to the hat wall and found a Goofy hat and posed for our picture.

What's the best advice you can share?

Find what interests you. Find an internship with a company you find fascinating and apply — don't be afraid to. Once you're there, network, network and network some more! Make connections and make your presence known. These networks will (help) land you your dream job, so it is imperative you create them. Be professional, stay good-humored and make your mark.

Kelly Price is a 2011 graduate of Durant High and a former editor of tb-two*.

Disney College Program, a summer internship, pays a world of dividends 09/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 4:42pm]
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