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The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

    Disney College Program takes internship to new level

    Brooke Nalesnik with Mickey Mouse

    Senior Brooke Nalesnik is participating in the Disney College Program for the third time. She currently works at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Photopass. 
    Courtesy of Brooke Nalesnik

    Disney World is known as the happiest place on earth. It is 27,000 acres of happiness, rides, roller coasters, restaurants, princesses, princes, villains, character meet and greets, the World Showcase, Cinderella’s castle and one very important mouse. What most people, but more importantly students, do not know is that you can work for the big mouse himself, Mickey Mouse.

    The Disney College Program is a paid internship for college students to experience the magic of working behind the scenes as a Disney Cast Member. One student took advantage of this opportunity in her second semester of college.

    “Ever since I was a young child, Disney has always been a major part of my life,” said senior Brooke Nalesnik. “Even as a grown adult, I still have such a sweet spot for anything and all things Disney. I first heard about the Disney College Program when I was a freshman in high school. After my first semester of college, I decided to go ahead and apply for the Fall Disney College Program, and little did I know then that it would be the best decision I had ever made.” 

    Nalesnik has worked for Disney three times and has had three separate jobs. She is currently experiencing the magic for the third time.

    “During my first Disney College Program, I worked as a Merchandise cast member at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge,” said communication sciences and disorders major Nalesnik. “During my Summer Alumni Program, I worked as a Quick Service cast member at Disney’s Art of Animation resort. Currently, I am a seasonal cast member. I work in Photopass at both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.”

    According to Nalesnik, during her jobs, she enjoyed all of them but her current job really stands out.

    “Oh man, there has been so many good parts about each one of my jobs thus far, but I have to say, I am really enjoying my role in Photopass so far,” said Nalesnik. “I am having the time of my life snapping memories for these families to have for the rest of their lives. It’s truly been a magical time.” 

    With the Disney College Program, Nalesnik has had many experiences. Her most cherished memory has been the people she has met throughout her times at Disney.

    “I think my favorite part about my Disney College Program was meeting new people and making friends from all over the world,” said Nalesnik. “Before my college program even started, I had connected with three other girls who would later become my roommates. I made friends in my home location at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and also in so many other lines of business while working at my resort. Relationships that are made here are different. They are so special and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before and that is why I love it.” 

    Freshman integrated science and technology major, Kerrigan Ackless, has taken part in this program as well. It is her first time at Disney and she is working at the main entrance for Typhoon Lagoon. While working for Disney, she has learned to appreciate the small things.

    “I have definitely learned to enjoy the little things and not hide but embrace the big things,” said Ackless. “I know people don’t always get the chance to go places like Disney until they’re past what may seem like ‘the right age,’ but Disney is magical for everyone and I’m an adult who is amazed every day whether it be at work or by taking a trip to the parks.”

    While learning to enjoy the small things, Ackless has had an unforgettable experience. 

    “My experience so far has been amazing,” said Ackless, “Everything has been like a dream. I still wonder if I’m going to wake up one day and be back home. I have roommates from all over the nation. I make new friends on a daily basis from around the world and Disney is such an amazing company to work for. Literally everyone is always so happy all the time.”

    Disney strives to teach excellence with their different learning techniques so students will hopefully walk away a little wiser.  

    “I have learned that going the extra mile and doing your job whole heartedly and with a smile on your face will give you more satisfaction then you realize,” said Ackless. 

    The Disney College Program takes applicants twice a year. There are a few options when applying for the program. You can apply for the spring program, which is January through May, the fall, which is August through December or there are also the advantage programs. The advantage programs extend your internship by two months, June and July.

    “Disney College Program participants usually work full time, forty hours a week, including weekends and holidays,” said Nalesnik. “Students applying can choose to either apply for the Disney College Program in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or the Disneyland Resort in California. The application process has three tiers: the application, the web-based interview and the phone interview.”

    The first step of the journey to become a cast member is the application. This application asks for personal information, experience and why a person would like to be a part of the Walt Disney World Company. If the applicant is a strong suitor for the job, then they move to the second step of the application process which is the web-based interview. This is where it asks the applicant about them personally and their work ethic. Then the interview goes through an evaluation. If the applicant passes, then they move to the final step, the phone interview. The phone interview is with a cast member from the casting center. It involves more questions about the applicant’s personality and is similar to the first application except the applicant is talking personally with a cast member. After these three steps are complete, it becomes a waiting game for a letter of acceptance or rejection. Nalesnik remembers every part of her application process, but her acceptance was one to remember. 

    “My acceptance story is actually one of my favorite memories from my whole Disney College Program experience,” said Nalesnik. “My family had made plans to visit Walt Disney World for Mardi Gras during the time I had applied for the DCP.”

    According to Nalesnik, it had been exactly a week since her phone interview when she boarded the plane to Orlando for her Disney vacation. When she landed in Orlando, she turned her phone on to discover the one email in her inbox was her letter of acceptance.

    “The first message at the top read ‘Congratulations Brooke’ and that was when I knew that I had been accepted to work for the company that I had always dreamed about working for,” said Nalesnik. 

    Upon her arrival to her hotel, her mother could not contain her excitement.

    “As we arrived to check in at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, my mom had told the front desk cast member about my exciting news. From there, he not only gave me a celebration button to wear during my trip, but he also had left a message on our telephone in our room sending congratulations from the whole front desk team. Those small moments right there have made permanent marks on my heart and help remind me every day why I decided to work for the Walt Disney Company.” 

    On the other hand, Ackless waited a month for her acceptance letter and believes this experience will benefit her in the future.

    “I absolutely believe that pushing myself out of my comfort zone and working with different people from all over the world and learn that happiness has no age limit,” said Ackless. “Being able to make happiness happen for people every day makes me equally as happy. Learning that although going the extra mile may seem hard, that the chance you might create happiness makes it worth it.”

    Nalesnik is a very strong believer that the Disney College Program teaches you valuable lesson to follow your dreams.

    “This may sound cliché, but I think I have definitely learned to always follow your dreams,” said Nalesnik. “I always knew that I wanted to work for the Walt Disney Company, but there were so many obstacles that could have stopped me from following my dreams. Moving to Florida on my own at nineteen was scary. I didn’t know if I would be able to take care of myself without having my family to help guide me, but boy was I wrong. This entire experience completely molded me into the person I always wanted to be. I was able to take care of myself, pay my rent with no problems, wash my clothes all by myself, work 40 hours a week and I still had time to play in the parks and enjoy time with friends.”

    Nalesnik also believes that this has taught her valuable things for the future. 

    “I think this whole experience helped me to realize that as long as I can put my mind to it, anything is possible,” said Nalesnik. “I strongly believe that now. This company does more than just train you about how to operate in a theme park. They teach you valuable life lessons that you don’t even realize until you get home after your program is done. I came back an entirely different person than I was when I left and I am so proud of that.”

    Brooke Nalesnik

    Brooke Nalesnik posing by Cinderella's Castle.
    Courtesy of Brooke Nalesnik


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