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An Alumna’s experience with the Disney College Program

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If you visit my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that my header is the following quote from Walt Disney: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” My pursuit began with not one, not two, but three attempts to get accepted into the Disney College Program (DCP), an exclusive internship that hand picks a small percentage of applicants among thousands of others. 

I have been with the Walt Disney World company for about three months, and I am excited to share my journey of how I got here, what I’m doing currently, and some of the opportunities I’ve been introduced to during my time here.

To begin my journey, I worked closely with the Center for Career and Life Planning here at Rollins throughout my third and final application process. With their help, I was able to craft a professional resume, write a personalized cover letter, structure my LinkedIn, learn basic networking skills, and navigate my first big application process. It was daunting, and I was definitely intimidated as this was something I really wanted, but taking these extra steps to better prepare myself and my image made me feel more confident for the next steps ahead of me.

The Job

If I am being honest, the adjustment from being in college to working a full time job was a bit of a rough patch for me, but like any other learning point in life, I pushed through it. I owe all my thanks to the amazing team at the Grand Floridian Spa who guided me along the way. 

I was placed at the spa for the duration of my program, which was my dream role going into the DCP, so I feel extremely lucky to be here. My work day begins at 10:30 AM. At the front desk, I assist guests with checking in and out and lead guided tours of our facilities and the relaxation lounge. 

When I’m not working the front desk, I maintain the presentation of our relaxation lounge by clearing dirty dishes, refreshing the snack bar, restocking towels in the wet lounge, tidying the restrooms, emptying the laundry baskets, putting fresh towel sets in the showers, stocking the lockers with clean robes and towels, and helping guests with any requests they may have. 

Behind the scenes, I fold robes, sort laundry, wash the dishes, and sanitize the sandals. Once the spa closes at 6:00 PM, my closing team and I are responsible for cleaning and preparing both relaxation lounges for the next day as well as handling the money at the registers up front and bringing it to the main building to deposit our funds for the evening. At 7:00 PM, we are ready to clock out.

The most important aspect of my job is making the magic for our guests, and that comes in many different shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s truly about the little things, and other times call for more grand gestures. 

A personal story that I hold close to my heart begins with two guests who arrived late for their couples massage. They were clearly distraught, apologized for their tardiness, and tearfully explained to us that they were having a difficult time on this particular trip as they had just lost their son only five weeks ago. Understandably, we welcomed them in and sent them back for their services. 

An hour later, they came back to the front to check out at my register. As I was starting their checkout process, my coordinator came over and quietly told me to let them know that their services were taken care of, on the house by us. Being able to gift this moment to the grieving family was so heartwarming, and they were very grateful for this small act of kindness.

One of my favorite perks of working at the Grand Floridian Spa is getting to be the guinea pig for the new services that we test out before adding them to our menu. We had a stylist come in for an interview a couple of weeks ago, and they needed someone for her to do a live demonstration on. I was chosen for this session, and I got my hair styled in a stunning bridal updo. More recently, I received our signature 50 minute massage from a new massage therapist who joined our team.

My first month here, they had just switched to a new nail polish brand, and they let us take home whichever colors we wanted from the previous line. 

Cast Member Life

As a Cast Member, I have lots of exciting behind the scenes opportunities available to me, such as Discover Disney. These are guided backstage tours of the attractions that you are able to sign up for online, exclusive only to DCP participants. We are also able to preview new rides before it is accessible to guests. My latest experience was getting to go on the Tron Lightcycle Run before it opened to the public—twice! I was able to bring up to three guests with me, so I brought my dad, sister, and brother in law. I would say my favorite part about it was that I got front row my first time, but really, it was getting to see my family’s reactions to the ride. Before you even board, the queue immerses you into the high tech world of Tron, based on the thrilling movie of a professional hacker who gets sucked into a digital computerized universe. It’s definitely one of the most unique attractions of its kind I have seen at Disney. While there are certainly many fun occasions to go around here,  I owe a lot of this growth not only to my work experience, but also by attending the complimentary classes that Disney offers to the college program participants. 

These classes are designed to help advance our career opportunities, strengthen existing skills and teach new ones, give us a better understanding of how to put our best foot forward in the workforce, and overall become more well rounded. Courses I have sat in for include: Exploring Disney Hospitality five week series, Disney Parks Social Media & Communications Panel, Acing the Interview, Networking 101, and Resume Writing.

I would not be where I am today without the support I received from Rollins, and I am so grateful for the personal growth I have undergone with the Walt Disney World company. The college program has been nothing short of the perfect transition from college into the workforce, and it’s definitely not a bad place to get your foot in the door for incredible opportunities. I’m not sure where life will take me next, but because of this program, I feel prepared to embrace whatever comes my way.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College. Have any additional tips or opinions? Send us your response. We want to hear your voice.

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