Name: Jessica Wilner
Major(s): Childhood/Special Education; Concentration: Music
Hometown: Lindenhurst, NY
Graduation Date: May 2015
Tell us about your current internship? Employer, brief summary of duties, major projects.
I took part in the Disney College Program at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida during the spring semester and summer of 2011. My job was within the entertainment department, as a character performer. I would meet the guests as a particular character, and sign autographs and take pictures with them. Sometimes I would be in a meet-and-greet setting, and sometimes in dining. I helped to create magical moments for these families, and hopefully make their visit to Walt Disney World more than memorable.
Is this your first internship?
Motivation. Why did you decide to do an internship?
I stumbled across the Disney College Program online, and once I realized what an amazing opportunity it was, I knew I wanted to take part in it. Growing up, I never imagined I could work at the most magical place on earth. This internship opened so many doors for me, and upon finding out I was being offered a job, let alone in a department I never dreamed of being a part of, I couldn’t imagine passing up this wonderful opportunity.
How did you find this particular internship?
I read an email mentioning it, and decided to look into it further.
Recommendations for other students?
I would absolutely recommend this internship to other students! It was the experience of a lifetime. Not only did I learn to work in so many different settings (in all four parks), I also learned to make safety, courtesy, show and efficiency a priority within my job. These are things that can be brought over into almost every other career. Also, having been a part of this internship can give you a great icebreaker during an interview.
What did you learn about yourself by doing an internship?
I learned to work on my own, without relying on anybody else. I also learned more about my work ethic in general. I realized that I can do more on my own than I thought I could.
Did you have an aha moment during your internship?
I had many “aha” moments during this internship. Many of those moments were while I was helping to create magical moments for families. I realized each time that I did not want to stop doing this job. I wanted to enjoy it for as long as I could.
How did the internship impact your career goals? Have they changed?
This internship hasn’t really affected my career goals, aside from giving me confidence that I can achieve mostly any goal I set for myself, so long as I work hard for it. After this internship, I had a good record and relationship with the company. They kept me employed as a seasonal cast member afterward, working at least 150 hours a year. I used my breaks from school to go down to Florida and work for a few weeks. I hope to keep working there for as long as I am able to as a seasonal cast member.
How has the internship made a difference in your life, personal goals?
Through the Disney College Program, I met some of my closest friends. Three of these close friends are from opposite parts of the country: one from Texas, one from Michigan, and one from California. We make it a point to see each other at least once a year, and it is as if no time has passed. I also met people from all over the world, from Puerto Rico, to New Zealand, to the United Kingdom. So many cultures are represented within the program. This was really enlightening. Meeting and experiencing all of these people made me really want to travel the world one day. It is now a personal goal of mine to see as much of the world as I possibly can.
Describe a typical day at your internship (or the most exciting day).
Oh, this is a difficult one to answer. Each day is so extremely different. I hang out with so many different characters, and at all four parks. Each day has a new batch of excited families waiting to see the characters. My most exciting days are the ones when I can really see how much I have touched their hearts. I once had a Make-A-Wish family come up to see Mickey (who I was hanging out with) and Minnie. The two young children were so happy, and we gave them so much attention, that the mother began to cry in happiness of this new memory she could keep. I stood up from the children and held the mother for a long time while she cried. She seemed so grateful for this magical experience for her and her family. I believe this is the most fulfilling moment I have had through this internship.