Disney College reaches out to UNI



Natalie Dunham, senior leisure, youth, and human services major and Haley Bell, freshman, discuss the Disney College program.

JACOB MADDEN, News Editor | [email protected]

Disney World is a summer getaway for most, but it can also be a great work experience, according to Erin Norton, senior communication studies major. Norton, along with Barbara Stratman and Natalie Dunham, came to the Rialto dining center last Wednesday to talk with fellow students about the Disney College program.

According to Norton, the Disney College program is a paid internship program that teaches skills, builds relationships and can offer credit.

“I had two friends who did the program before me,” Norton explained. “It’s a great experience for the real world.”

Getting into the Disney College program is competitive, according to Norton, but achievable with some hard work. Norton explained that Disney accepts around 2,500 students into the program, both in the U.S. and internationally. The first step to being accepted is an online application, followed by a web interview and phone interview. Then, the wait.

“It’s the worst thing in the world seeing that ‘in progress’ bar,” Norton said to the students.

Stratman, graduate assistant in the Office of Academic Advising, explained that there are many positions available once accepted into the program, including attractions, convention guide, monorail, photopass photographer, character attendant and many more.

Norton said that, while the work and pay are great, the true joy of the Disney College program is the people.

“You build a family,” Norton said. “One of my roommates was from Puerto Rico and one of my best friends is from Arkansas.”

Students live together in apartment complexes ranging from single rooms with up to eight people in an apartment, according to Norton. She also explained that Disney is very adamant about the academic success of their students, giving them two days off a week, one of those specifically to do classwork.

Students can apply for programs that are between three and five months, and can even receive full credit for courses. In most cases, LAC course credit can be given, Norton explained.

“You don’t have to be a Disney fanatic to do it,” said Samantha Steffensmeier, sophomore leisure, youth and human services major. “You just have to be good at what you do. The more open to opportunities you are, the more likely you are to get in.”

Freshman Devin Yarkosky said that “it would be a really cool experience, especially because I’m a huge Disney fan. What I like is that everyone talking about it seems to have enjoyed [it].”

While there a few hoops to get through, Norton and Stratman said it is worth the effort. Students have to pay their way to the Disney location they will be working at, and Norton said that there were some troubles getting full credit for her work at first.

Norton went on to say  that, once the program was done, she was glad she had the experience with the Disney College program.

The Disney College program is currently accepting applicants.

“It just seems like a very organized program,” Yarkosky said.

For those looking for more information, Stratman recommended Disney’s website.