Disney College Program takes students from ‘zero to hero’

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Room 3222 of the Wilkinson Student Center transformed into “a whole new world” last Tuesday during the Disney College Program presentations.

John Stephenson, a Disney recruiter, gave two presentations about the Disney College Program to more than 300 students. For Stephenson, the Disney College Program was an enlightening experience that has now turned into a passionate life-long career.

“This program changed my life and now I have the opportunity to change the life of every student I interact with,” he said.

As a recruiter, Stephenson came to BYU to share the opportunity to work for Disney as a paid intern. The program now accepts an average of over 7,000 students a semester. Students can apply for an internship position at either California Disneyland or at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. In referring to this and deciding which route to take, Stephenson quoted Ursula, a character from Disney’s film “The Little Mermaid.”

John Stephenson, a recruiter for Disney, presented to students on the Disney College Program. Photo courtesy of Chris Bunker.

“Life is full of tough choices, isn’t it,” he said.

Both programs focus on the same three components: live, learn and earn. Students who are accepted and choose to participate live in fully furnished deluxe apartments built specifically for them. The living arrangements create a multicultural experience that brings people together from all different areas of life.

Becca Spendlove, a senior studying therapeutic recreation from Encinitas, Calif., enjoyed this aspect of the program when she participated.

“It gave me more insight into different kinds of people,” she said. “You meet people from all over the world with all kinds of beliefs and everybody respected my values.”

Special events are put together exclusively for the interns, including grocery bingo and themed pool nights. As an intern with Disney, there is free access to the parks, discounts on select merchandise, food and beverage as well as Resort Hotel accommodations.

Disney’s program said it will provide a unique education opportunity and students will learn business philosophies from a successful Fortune 100 company. Education opportunities include collegiate courses, seminar series and self-paced workshops and classes.

Stephenson also said that it is a networking program. If a student chooses, he or she can meet a Disney leader every week during their internship.

Jordan Kennard, a senior from West Jordan studying Spanish attended the presentation and was happy to hear about the networking aspect of the Disney program.

“Besides Spanish, I want to go into filming and entertainment,” Kennard said. “With networking there is potential for great learning and maybe even a future job. I would love that.”

Along with learning and living the Disney life, students will earn money. The Disney College Program is a paid internship that aims to teach students transferable skills invaluable to their future lives. Each candidate will be notified of their hourly pay once an offer is extended. Upon acceptance, participants are then known as cast members who accept a role in the program. Cast members can participate in a variety of categories including operations, lodging, food and beverage, retail and sales, as well as recreation and entertainment.

Ashley Alley, a senior from Spokane, Wash. studying art history, participated in the program as an attractions hostess in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is now a campus representative for Disney. After her positive experience with the program, she is excited about future BYU student participation.

“Apply now because Disney loves BYU students,” she said. “I grew up watching Disney movies. On Sundays, Disney movies were what we were allowed to watch if it wasn’t a church movie.”

Internships with Disney are typically six months. However, because of the positive reputation of BYU students, the program has created a special schedule that aligns with BYU’s unique spring and summer terms.

Cast members in this program receive world-class training from a company that provides the finest in entertainment for people of all ages. Now with the Disney College Program, students can give back and be a part of the magic.

“We create happiness,”  Stephenson said. “Do not underestimate the power of the mouse.”

For more information on the Disney College program, visit disneycollegeprogram.com.

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