by Brittany DiCologero
In terms of college internships, the Disney College Program is one of the best experiences out there. The combination of working for such a well-respected company, while making money, and being able to use program-specific transportation and live in company sponsored housing, sets the Disney College Program apart from similar opportunities.
I remember looking for internships in my field as a junior History major in college, and feeling extremely discouraged over the amount of internships that required full time work in exchange for an unpaid experience. I’m sure there are students out there that would have the financial means to work full time for free, but since I am not one of those students, it was difficult for me to find an internship that would actually be doable. For me to be able to leave my jobs to complete an internship that requires you to work for 30+ hours per week, I would need to be getting paid, which leads me to my next point…
Housing is provided
While CPs (college program participants) must pay for their apartments, in the form of a weekly fee that is automatically deducted from their paychecks, this is another substantial perk of the program. Again, when I was looking at some of those unpaid, full time internships in college, so many of them did not come with housing. I remember one such internship in Gettysburg for instance, working on an archaeological dig and completing research for a museum– it sounded like it would have been a really great experience, but there is no way I would have been able to move to Gettysburg and be able to afford housing, taking care of a car, and food, while working full time in a role that is unpaid.
I know a lot of CPs complain about the apartments, but I’m honestly not quite sure what they were expecting. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and if you think the rent for CP apartments is high that is totally fine, however you’d be hard pressed to find something in the real world for those prices that includes as many amenities as CP housing does.
Transportation is provided
Is the CP transportation the best? Not by a long shot. Is it the worst transportation? No. The CP buses are notorious for “taking a long time to get to work.” Do you know what else will take a long time to get to work? Any form of public transportation anywhere. The reason why the buses take forever is because they go by a schedule, and that schedule does not revolve around you, and because they make multiple stops. That’s how any public transportation system is going to work, so if you don’t like it you should probably invest in a car.
Anyway, aside from the occasional issues that CP buses do have, they’re not bad considering that they were included in your rent. Like the two previous points, having transportation included in the program was a huge help for me doing the program at all. And for the record, the CP buses are better than some lines of the MBTA anyway. I would gladly trade my current route to work in Boston for a CP bus if I could.
Networking and professional guidance
Networking is a huge part of the college program, and like any other experience you’ll get more out of it depending on how much effort you put in. If you want to stay with the company, you’ll have plenty of opportunities as a CP to network with all the right people and get your foot in the door.
Even without planning on staying with the Walt Disney Company, the professional guidance offered on the program can be extremely helpful. If interviews aren’t your thing, or you aren’t happy with the current state of your resume, there will be a number of workshops throughout your program to help you out.
Of course, the benefits of working in Walt Disney World greatly add to the value of this internship. As much as I would have loved to spend a semester in Gettysburg, the ability to spend my days off in the Magic Kingdom is kind of hard to compete with. In addition to being able to go to the parks whenever you want, CPs are able to take advantage of discounts on merchandise, other theme park admissions, resorts, and dining, and they are able to attend cast member exclusive events. They can also visit Mickey’s Retreat, a recreational facility located across from the apartment complexes reserved for cast members only.
The DCP comes up as a point of conversation in every job interview I’ve had since completing the program. The interviewers generally don’t even look at my other two college internships anymore, they see the name Disney and they focus in on that. Even if your role in Disney has nothing to do with your field, the Disney name stands out, and will always serve as a positive aspect to your resume.
Although one could argue that there are other internships that would offer rewarding experiences for its participants, I’m not sure anything compares with the ability to create magic for guests while working for Disney