Students Succeed Through Disney College Program
By Devin Dobson
From The Talon
Oklahoma Christian University students continue to pursue their dreams through the Disney College Program, a paid internship allowing college students worldwide to enhance their education and gain work experience.
The program is offered at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California and the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Participants choose to apply for either the Fall, Fall Advantage, Spring or Spring Advantage programs. Each program varies in duration and dates.
Erin Nash, Walt Disney World Seasonal Cast Member, acts as Oklahoma State University’s campus representative.
“The Disney College program is highly competitive,” Nash said. “In 2012, nearly 20,000 students applied for the Spring 2013 semester and only 2,500 were accepted to participate. This made for an acceptance rate of just over 10 percent. With publicity in recent years, the number of applicants has increased, making the program progressively more competitive.”
To qualify for the program, applicants must be enrolled as an active full-time or part-time student, possess unrestricted work authorization, be at least 18 years of age and meet personal school requirements for participation.
Students have the opportunity to live, learn and earn while working for a multi-billion dollar company. The program allows students to live in company-sponsored housing near Disney properties, enroll in classes taught by experienced Disney Cast Members and earn money working as a full-time employee for the company.
Several Oklahoma Christian students have participated in the program in recent years.
Caitlin and Carly Crockett, Oklahoma Christian alumni, participated in the College Program during their sophomore year in 2012.
“We thought about studying abroad, but [we] realized Disney would be a cheaper and great option,” Caitlin said. “We had heard about it at a career fair on campus and then applied on a whim.”
Due to the Crockett’s recommendations of the program, senior Elizabeth Elliot participated in the program this past semester.
“I was unsure about working at Disney because it has been my family’s vacation spot growing up,” Elliot said. “Once I heard how much Caitlin and Carly loved it, I decided to go for it.”
Elliot said she knew the program could potentially benefit her future career.
“Even if you don’t ever want to work for Disney, simply having the experience on your resume looks incredible,” Elliot said. “I’ve had several interviews since my program and the first thing they ask me is what I learned at Disney.”
Senior Katie Pfeil said she benefited from her experience at Disney this past semester as well.
“I definitely learned how to live with different people from diverse backgrounds,” Pfeil said. “At OC, it seems everyone has a similar mentality and belief system. I lived with girls from all over the country with various beliefs, yet we were really respectful of each other and even got into healthy debates.”
Pfeil worked as a face paint artist at the Pirate’s League at the Magic Kingdom theme park, where boys and girls transform into pirates through costumes and props.
“My job was extremely rewarding,” Pfeil said. “One day I had a Make-A-Wish kid whose dream was to be a pirate. He only had six months to live, yet he was beaming with joy and laughter. It was a really neat experience to see the looks on kid’s faces. The magic is just so real at Disney, it’s so real.”
Oklahoma Christian alumnus Joshua McCoy participated in the program in 2013 and continues to work for Disney in Florida.
“My [Disney] College Program helped me get where I am in general,” McCoy said. “I wouldn’t have thought to audition for Disney otherwise, and it was a great way to get into the entertainment industry.”
McCoy said he continues to love his job as a cast member at Walt Disney World.
“I love performing in the parades,” McCoy said. “It’s so cool to walk through Magic Kingdom with so many people watching you every day having the time of their lives. It’s crazy to think they may never know me, or my name, but I got to make their vacation a little more magical. I love that I get to be a part of that.”
The Disney College Program is open to students of any major. More information on the Disney College Program and how to apply is viewable at DisneyCareers.com.