When you wish upon a star
Though they can often be mundane, internships are a great way to build your résumé and jumpstart a career. This fall, two students are ditching the typical coffee runs and paperwork to take on an internship at “the happiest place on earth,” Disneyland.
Freshman Katelyn Power and senior Maria Sassaman were accepted into the Disney College Program, located at the Disneyland Park and Resorts in Anaheim, California. They will spend August through December of 2017 working alongside other Disneyland employees.
Jobs within the program include janitorial work, retail, operations and a variety of other positions.
“Disney is just so magical, you can just leave your cares at the door and be a kid again.”
For Power, the decision to apply to the program was a simple one since being a Disney intern runs in the family.
“My sister [was a part of] the program back in 2014, during her sophomore year, and I heard great things about it through her,” Power said. “It’s always been in the back of my mind as something I would be interested in doing as well.”
Sassaman heard about the Disney College Program through Facebook, and decided to apply on a whim.
“I thought, ‘This actually sounds really cool, I love Disneyland,’” Sassaman said. “So I thought, ‘Why not apply?’ I never thought I actually would get in.”
Power, a theater major, and Sassaman, a Spanish major, both consider this internship to be relevant to their intended career paths, providing them with marketable skills. Sassaman plans to use her bilinguality on the job.
“It’ll be great work experience, but I’m also prepared for it to be difficult, since I’m not a native speaker,” Sassaman said.
Power hopes to use Disney’s emphasis on performance to hone career skills. The high-stress nature of working at Disneyland will allow her to perform well under pressure as an actress, Power said.
“Theater and Disney go hand-in-hand. You always have to have a smile on your face, both in theater and when working at
Disney,” Power said.
Both Sassaman and Power will be working retail in the parks, for a minimum of 28 hours a week. In addition to working, there are a number of perks provided to interns to help fill their spare time.
When you’re not working, there are classes you can take taught by Disney, Sassaman said. They are three-hour seminars, once a week, that teach useful skills in business, communications and other topics.
All interns receive over a dozen free guest passes for friends and family, as well as unlimited access to the park for themselves, Power said. Though there are a number of benefits to this gig, both Sassaman and Power acknowledge there will be difficult aspects as well.
“Moving so far away will be tough. I’m definitely a bit nervous and scared,” Power said. “But at the end of the day, I’m working in the happiest place on earth. So it kind of makes up for it.”
Interns will also have to adjust to a quick transition, Sassaman said. Move-in day is Aug. 13, and less than 24 hours later, intensive training begins. This training is more than just the technicalities of working in the park, Power said. It also sets strict rules for interns.
“Disney takes [its reputation] very seriously,” Power said. “There are a lot of things that can lead to us being kicked out immediately. They definitely have very high standards as a company, and hold their employees to that standard.”
There is a degree of uncertainty and spontaneity that comes with this job. There are many factors that won’t be known to the two interns until their first day. They won’t know their hours, or where in the park they will be stationed, until they move in.
“There really isn’t a ton of information available to us beforehand,” Sassaman said. “But I think everyone is just grateful for the privilege and [is] excited to soak up the experience.”
Though Disney may be a unique place to work, like any job, the honeymoon phase will eventually end and monotony will set in. Both Power and Sassaman have made it their goal to go in with a positive attitude.
“The trick I’ve learned with jobs is, if you’re only there to get the experience, you’re not going to have fun,” Sassaman said. “You have to really, genuinely want to be there and enjoy the atmosphere.”
For Power, her goal as an intern is to make what she calls, “the Disney experience” fun for everyone.
“Disney is just so magical, you can just leave your cares at the door and be a kid again,” Power said.