What Working for Disney Could Teach You…


Photo by xlibber

As you read this blog post, I will be en route to visit UW-Whitewater students participating in the Disney College Program at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. I am excited for this opportunity to see the work our students are doing there and to discuss their experiences in the midst of their program.

I have to admit that before I started my job as Internship Coordinator, I didn’t know much about the Disney College Program. I have since, clearly, learned a lot both from the Disney College Program staff and from UW-Whitewater program alumni.

In the process, I have become aware of common concerns people have with the program. In case you don’t know, DCPers (as I like to call them) can work in food service, custodial, and housekeeping, among many other front-line park and resort roles. I can definitely understand people’s concerns – how is an “internship” bussing tables beneficial?

I will tell you how this program is beneficial to a student’s career development. It’s all about transferable skills!

  • Communication Skills: According the the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE), verbal communication skills top the list of what employers are seeking in new college graduates. However, communications skills are often found to be lacking in job candidates. Not a good combination. Many of the roles in the Disney College Program involve a lot of guest interaction. DCPers have ample opportunity to develop strong communication skills when they…
    • Greet guests arriving at a resort
    • Respond to guest’s questions and provide information
    • Handle guest complaints or concerns
  • Interpersonal Skills: Obviously there is some overlap here with the communication skills, but interpersonal skills go deeper into the ability to develop rapport with people. One important thing that I’ve learned about working in Disney’s parks and resorts: “cast members” are part of a show. As such, connecting with guests and making sure that they are having a magical experience is key. DCPers develop interpersonal skills when they…
    • Interact with guests from around the world
    • Assist guests in planning their visits
    • Approach guests and engage them in conversation
  • Work Ethic: Certain skills are important to ensure effectiveness, efficiency, and overall job satisfaction. Basic skills in decision making, cooperation, time management, attention to detail, and meeting goals are all necessary in the workplace. At Disney, students develop these skills when they…
    • Operate sophisticated ride systems in an Attractions role
    • Ensure Character Performer safety as a Character Attendant
    • Manage a seating chart working in Food and Beverage

Development of these transferable skills, to only name a few, is going to help DCPers qualify for more advanced opportunities including Disney Professional Internships and other non-Disney internships.

For those of you not in the Disney College Program, think about similar experiences you have already had. Have you worked in food service or retail? The same transferable skills likely apply.

So remember, the important element of any work experience is what you do/did. Your job title is not everything. Make sure your skills shine through.

See you after Spring Break!


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