Psychology major Rachel Chandler just got into the latest trend in the world of college internships: the Disney College Program Orlando.
Although she only has one semester left to graduate, the Hazard, Ky., senior is taking the semester off to embark on what she believes is the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Disney College Program, or DCP as some like to call it, has been around since October 1982. Started out with only 200 students from 20 colleges to participate in work areas inside of the Magic Kingdom. The number of participants and colleges involved in the paid internship program has since sky rocketed to around 5,000 accepted applicants a year with over 300 colleges allowing students college credit to attend.
Students must be enrolled full-time in an accredited university, be willing to move their entire lives to Florida for a semester and meet the requirements for “the Disney look,” Disney’s dress code for working inside the parks: no body piercings, tattoos, or unnatural hair colors.
Not only is the work experience hands-on learning, but participants get the explore the parks for free on their days off. Identification cards are passed out during the arrival of new employees and they don’t go to waste, Chandler said.
Disney College hopefuls and alumni numbers has also increased dramatically. Even walking around Eastern’s campus, purple Disney recruiting posters shaped in mouse ears cover bulletin boards.
Chandler leaves August 12 for her five-month program and says she is both excited and nervous, but is not regretting taking the semester off, even though it means leaving her regular babysitting job and her sorority.
“School will be here when I get back, but this could be my only chance at Disney,” Chandler said. “I honestly think having Disney stand out on my resume will make all these sacrifices worth it. This is a networking dream come true.”
Ludlow, Ky., senior Amanda Kidwell is already in her second consecutive semester with Disney. The general studies major took the internship last fall and liked it so much, she extended her time in Florida to a year. The former Education major decided to change her major after she completed her first semester in Disney.
“I realized that there is so much more I want to do in life than just teach,” Kidwell said.
Although she plans to return to Eastern in August to finish her degree, Kidwell plans on moving back to Florida to work Disney as soon. From there, she wants to join Disney English program and teach English as a second language to elementary students in China. She wants to make her experience with Forbes 500 company last as long as possible.
Morgan Lacey is a Disney College alumni. The 21 year-old Recreation major from Heidelberg, Germany, completed her program right after her senior year of high school.
“My family is in the military, so I’m really good at moving around and meeting new people. I wasn’t nervous at all,” Lacy said.
Although Lacy is no stranger to moving around the world, nothing could have prepared her for the thousands of people she would meet while working in Disney. She worked at a food stand during all of Disney’s daily parades.
“I was constantly busy, passing food out,” Lacy said, “It was hot and I ever got a second to breath, but I know how to communicate with people because of it. “
Lacy said that although the program helped her make new friends, she is ready to focus on her degree and getting out of her undergraduate program.
While all three women are in different stages of their experiences with the Disney College Program, all agree that the internship helped them prepare for futures in their fields of study.
Story by Shelby Slone