As a civil engineering student, I got some pretty weird looks when I told people I was going to Disney World for a semester. “Wait, so you’re going to be doing some sort of engineering for the parks right?”. Well, no. It was questions like this that made the migration south hard to justify. TPED had gained so much momentum just two months after its debut and on top of that, seven months out of school sounded like bad news to my GPA.
At least upon my acceptance I was provided the vague role of “Transportation” and there was a chance I could twist my experience to-come into something in favor of my transportation engineering focus on my resume.
On the program I met students from every nook and cranny and found that they were all there for different reasons. There were those that wanted a boost on their business resume or those who dreamed of being a Disney princess. There were those dropped into the real world following graduation and used the program to postpone their imminent unemployment. And there were those that simply used it to afford their childhood dream vacation. However, does it really matter why?
It takes a certain type of person to have the program on their resume. Graduating in four years is easy. Living in the same dorm room and eating at the same dining courts every year is easy. Following the curriculum laid out for you semester by semester is easy. Participating in the Disney College Program is not. These students are moving across the country, working through the holidays, keeping up with their studies, deferring loans, adapting to the work environment of a merciless multi-billion dollar company, and still bouncing back at the end of those four months with the same academic drive. Maybe it’s not the Disney College Program that defines the success of these students, but rather the students that define the Disney College Program. It is those that participate that veer from the path of least resistance.
The day I got home my Dad said to me “how does it feel to come back from playing for four months?” and he’s certainly not wrong, but playing required sacrifices. Yes! I took four months off of school to work a minimum wage at a theme park! But next time you see the Disney College Program on a resume, know that is so much more than that. Behind that line is a student passionate about crowd modeling, ride vehicle seat belts, dark ride theming, project management, whatever it may be. However, that student is also the one that’s bold enough to throw in the idea that may change the face of a business.