I began my final semester as a Mountaineer, January 2016. It was the strangest feeling, knowing I was beginning the last few months of my time as a college student and preparing to say goodbye to my home for the past four years. And I had no idea what was in store for me after graduation.
Class of 2017, you understand, and Classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020, consider this your warning…. preparing for graduation is terrifying. Especially when you don’t have a plan or job in place.
So, I decided to do something crazy… I applied for the Disney College Program. I got an interview and I talked about my education and time as a “phonathon” caller in my common room in Powell Hall.
I hung up feeling very confident that it was an objectively good interview, but convinced I wouldn’t get in. Thousands and thousands of college students and recent graduates apply for a variety of roles, including merchandise, lifeguarding, attractions, character performer, photopass photographer.
Two months later, after I had given up all hope… I received an email. I was accepted to participate in the Disney College Program as a merchandise cast member
In late August, I traded the mountains of Mount St. Mary’s for the heat and traffic of Orlando, FL to begin my time as a Walt Disney World cast member.
When I arrived in Florida, I discovered I would be working in EPCOT, specifically in Future World. Although it’s not the first thing you think of when you think “Disney,” the past eight months I’ve spent in Future World have been amazing.
Every day I wake up, put on my costume, get ready for work, grab my lunch, and take the bus to EPCOT. I work in 7 different stores, and had to receive additional training for a few of them. I walk to my location, and then, the magic begins.
Working at Disney World is unlike anything I’ve ever done, or anything I’ll ever do. Every day I meet guests from all over the world and I get to hear their stories. I’ve printed out pictures for children visiting for Make a Wish, I’ve taken pictures with guests from overseas, I’ve gotten hugs from little girls dressed as princesses and even assisted in a few proposals!
Some may think my choice to work merchandise at Walt Disney World isn’t a wise choice, especially since I know this isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life. But my job description is literally “to create happiness.”
In what other job will my boss remind me to spread magic? In what other job can I surprise a little birthday princess with a slushy or a call from Goofy?
Originally, I was supposed to leave in January. But I made the decision to stay with Disney while looking for another job back home and extended first to May, and then until the end of July. After that… well I’m finding myself in the same boat I was in a year ago.
But this time, I have references from one of the top companies in the world. I have skills that have been tuned while working at one of the most popular tourist destinations. Most importantly, I have a newfound confidence that I will succeed in whatever I choose to do.
As Walt Disney once said, “it’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”