UB students experience ‘internship of a lifetime’ at Disney College Program


Stephanie Gavin was always a Disney fan growing up, but she didn’t expect to take a semester off from school to work at Walt Disney World.

Gavin, a junior cultural anthropology major, was accepted to the Disney College Program and now that she has completed the program, she couldn’t picture her college career without it.

The Disney College Program is a paid internship opportunity that offers optional academic credit. The program is offered four seasons throughout the year at Walt Disney World in Orlando or Disneyland in California.

Thousands of students have completed this program since it debuted in 1981, according to a statement from Disney Campus Recruitment. All college students of any major who are at least 18 years old with at least a 2.0 GPA are eligible to apply. Recent graduates within the past six months are eligible to apply as well. Participating in the program means taking a leave of absence from UB.

“The program really helped me find out what I wanted out of my future employers and pointed me in the right direction when thinking about my future,” Gavin said.

Roughly 50,000 students apply each year and 5,000 to 6,000 applicants are accepted, according to Kelly Crowe, a senior human resources major with a concentration in business administration.

Crowe said UB doesn’t really talk about it as a program, but she’s glad she found it.

Disney Campus Recruitment said they regularly consult with an advisory board of college professors and administrators to ensure they “continue to meet the needs of today’s students and universities.”

When Gavin visited Disney World in her junior year of high school, she met someone on the college program and she knew that was something she would want to do one day.

Gavin said the application process was simple. It consisted of an online interest form and those who make it to the next round get a phone interview.

Participants work in more than 20 different positions within Disney, which fall under the following categories: entertainment, lodging, food and beverage, retail and sales and recreation.

Gavin’s interactions with other people while working has allowed her to walk away with more than she would have imagined and can help her in any career path.

“It’s a totally different working environment – it’s like nothing that I’ve ever worked in before,” Gavin said.

Gavin said having to adjust to “high corporation standards” was her biggest challenge. She said she had to attain the “Disney look” and that “it’s not just how you project yourself but how you project the company over it.”

For recent UB graduate Maia Pidsadnick, this program is her first time away from home.

Pidsadnick said she thought the program would be a good way to transition to being independent and living on her own. She works in entertainment at Disney World and sees her future there. She houses near the resort and finds her own transportation to work.

“I thought it would be fun to do an internship where I can bring so much joy to people and do something that I love,” Pidsadnick said.

Both Crowe and Pidsadnick chose to do the Fall Advantage Internship, which runs from May to January.

“I thought it would be a good step into my field to see if I like working with people in that predicament,” Crowe said.

The program offers classes for optional academic credit or for students like Crowe who aren’t taking the program for credit. Some of the courses offered are corporate communication, creativity and innovation, leadership and communication.

Crowe said she felt very prepared to apply to the program because of her involvement with UB’s Student Association and being a residential adviser at UB.

“It’s intimidating to apply knowing that there’s so many people applying, but the fact that if you do get in, you’re one of the 10 percent that do,” Crowe said. “If you really are dedicated, you should go out and try.”

Hannah Stein is the co-senior news editor and can be reached at hannah.stein@ubspectrum.com