As I look forward to celebrating my 10-year anniversary at Walt Disney World Resort this winter, I can’t help but grin from ear to ear when I look back on my Disney journey. As a child, I dreamed of dancing at Walt Disney World – The Disney College Program not only helped me fulfill that dream, but I discovered career paths I never thought possible while earning my degree from Louisiana State University.
@disneyparks And it was all started by a #DisneyCollegeProgram ✨ #Disney #DisneyWorld #DisneyCastLife ♬ original sound – Disney Parks
There are so many opportunities to network, learn and have fun on the job as a Disney College Program cast member. Here are five important career lessons I learned during my experience that continue helping me more than 10 years later:
1. There is Value in Networking.
Personal connections with my fellow cast members and Disney leaders were important from the very start of my Disney career. The Disney College Program gives participants exclusive opportunities to attend learning and career development sessions with leaders working in roles across the resort and the company. The connections I made through these offerings introduced me to career-long mentors, including Disney leaders I’d find myself working alongside just a few years later in my role as a Communications Manager for Disney Live Entertainment.
2. People Make the Dream a Reality.
I live and work alongside people from all over the world who love Disney as much as I do? Dreams really do come true! It is the people who make our Disney Cast Life magical and meaningful. From roommates to neighbors and those you meet at Disney Programs events, fellow cast members become best friends and a community you can lean on for support and encouragement, no matter where your Disney career takes you. My Disney College Program roommate and I stay connected to this day, cheering each other on as we embark on our own Disney journeys.
3. Build Your Skillset.
Working around our theme parks and resorts on the Disney College Program helps you build important foundational skills, such as partnership, problem-solving and guest service that you can use in your next role and beyond. The skills gained in every career step I’ve taken have always set me up for success when a new opportunity comes along – my role on my Disney College Program was no exception! My experience in Entertainment set me up for success as a Guest Experience Manager, allowing me to place myself in the shoes of the cast members I led and empowered me to become a better leader.
4. Have Fun on the Job.
“I think I’ll visit and learn more about The Haunted Mansion attraction before I go work today!” The Discovery Disney series gives Disney Programs cast opportunities to do just that. Taking advantage of these unique offerings during my semester at Disney not only taught me something new, but they were some of the best days of my program. Much like the Discovery Disney series, I continue looking for the element of fun in every job that must be done in my career today through #DisneyCastLife opportunities – like experiencing the return of “Fantasmic!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before its debut.
5. There is Excitement in Discovering New Dreams.
I came into my Disney College Program with what I thought was the perfect plan and career path laid out in front of me. Through discussions with my leaders in my area, networking and Disney Programs events and activities, I soon discovered that path could take some exciting detours and lead me to new roles I never thought possible – like becoming a Walt Disney World Ambassador.
As part of the Disney Ambassador Team, Raevon Redding and I frequently visit Flamingo Crossings Village to speak with current Disney Programs participants. Every visit is a full circle moment, as I know I’m speaking to future Disney leaders, Imagineers, Ambassadors and magic makers, who started their Disney career journey on the Disney College Program, just like me.
Are you a Disney College Program alum whose career was changed by the program? Share your story using #DisneyCastLife and #DisneyPrograms on social media or comment below! Students interested in discovering the fun and magic of Disney Programs can apply to the Disney College Program today and visit DisneyPrograms.com to learn more!
Be sure to follow @WDW.Ambassador on Instagram for more #DisneyCastLife adventures.