What’s it like to work at the most magical place on Earth? What about riding Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean on your day off? How about watching the sunrise over the Atlantic in the morning, then watching the sun set in the Gulf of Mexico in the evening? Well, SFA student Amber Bynum has done it, all of it, and lots more.
For Bynum this wasn’t something to do many years from now once she retires, but while she is in college. The Walt Disney World College Program provides college students the opportunity to live, work and play at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The program is a paid internship in which you might even get college credit for, depending on your major or minor.
Bynum, a journalism major and hospitality minor, has done the program twice, and she’s not through. She plans to participate in two more summer internships, which are only allowed for Disney College Program alumni. Most students are only able to do the Fall/Fall Advantage program or the Spring/Spring Advantage program, both of which will include either a fall or spring semester.
While Bynum has only gained worked and life experiences, she will get actual college credit as early as her next program, since she is now entering into her upper-level courses. After she graduates, she may do the Professional Internship Program that Disney offers.
What type of work do college program students do when they get there? Disney offers many different roles, ranging from food and beverage, hotel front desk, transportation, entertainment and much, much more. Bynum’s role both times was in quick service food and beverage.
“I knew it would be a different type of job for me, something that I’ve never done. But once I met my managers and fellow cast members, I knew I would love it. Meeting so many different people every day was the most exciting part of my work experience,” Bynum said.
What about that living situation? Well, Disney uses three apartment complexes solely for college program students. While some might think that the housing is a little crowded, Bynum said that it was “much like living in a dorm.” There are many different sizes of apartments, so you will have different options of how many roommates you may end up with.
“I absolutely loved my roommates from both programs,” Bynum said. “I still keep up with them today and even plan on meeting them in Orlando for my next trip to Disney World.”
Other than possible college credit, what can you really get out of the program? How about work experience that you can put on your resume, networking skills, job connections with the Disney Company and friends of a lifetime? Bynum said that she feels she has an upper hand in building her resume now that she has Disney experience.
Why do so many SFA departments not offer credit for doing the Disney program? Bynum feels that maybe the benefits of the program are not well known by enough professors and deans on campus.
“Work experience with a major company should not be overlooked,” she said. “I understand that there are a few areas of studies here at SFA that would rather see its students follow a different path for an internship. However, many colleges that don’t give credit should take another look at what Disney really offers.”
The Disney College Program is an absolute great experience for students that may be undecided with his or her major. Some students have been known to just need a break from school, or maybe they have just heard how amazing the program is and they want to try it out for themselves. A freshman could be a great candidate for the program just as a senior could be.
Bynum knows that she will always remember her programs for all that she gained from the experience.
“I will always remember the trips to the beaches, to the Disney theme parks as well as the Universal theme parks, to Sea World, to water parks, and all of the great shopping in Orlando,” she said. “I will always remember seeing children’s faces light up with excitement and joy as they first walked in to the Magic Kingdom. And most of all, I will always remember what the Disney College Program did for me personally. I feel that I am better prepared for whichever path I take after college. I’m ready for it.”