Geneseo students experience a whole new world during internship program

The Disney College Program offers college students a unique opportunity to learn, earn money and gain work experience in either Florida's Walt Disney World or California's Disneyland.

All college students are eligible to enroll in the Disney College Program. The program assigns different roles to individuals, which will determine what kind of work they do at the Disney resort. Many different roles that apply to various majors are offered, including roles in attractions, concierge, housekeeping and merchandise, each of which comes with its own distinct responsibilities. A participant can also receive credit for college courses taken through the program.

Sophomore Caitlin Dennehy, a business administration major, left for her Disney College Program internship on Jan. 6 and will return May 14. Dennehy said she believed "the program would give me a once in a lifetime chance to help create the magic I believe in while learning what it is like to work in an international corporation."

Dennehy has a role as a merchandising cast member and works in the shops in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom. "I've done a lot of training to prepare me for the position and experienced a lot of business aspects that relate to my major," Dennehy said. She is also enrolled in the Disney Exploration Series on Guest Services, which is a series of keynote speakers from different areas of the company.

One of the aspects of the program Dennehy said she enjoys is the wide range of diverse backgrounds in the students participating in the program. "Because there are so many international students here as well, it's a great opportunity to network with students from other countries," she said.

Daniel DeHollander, class of 2009, said that he participated in the program because he "wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to travel and gain new experiences."

From August to January, DeHollander worked at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World as a Sunset Operations Attractions Cast Member. With a role in attractions, DeHollander spent most of his time working at the Rock'n'Roller Coaster Staring Aerosmith, but also managed crowds at parades such as Fantasmic, Block Party Bash and High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

"I learned how to truly live on my own, budget my own money and manage my time in a way that wasn't always necessary at college," DeHollander said.

During his participation in the program, DeHollander said he "lived with five other guys in assigned housing, took a course exploring leadership and worked approximately 40 to 50 hours a week."

DeHollander's internship with the Disney College Program led him to his current enrollment in a professional internship through Walt Disney Housing Operations. He now plans events for the current Disney College Program participants, which include pool parties, sports tournaments, open-mic nights and trips to local theatre and sporting events.

"I would recommend the Disney College Program to everyone in every major," DeHollander said. "I know the transferrable skills I have obtained are going to make my resume stronger."

The Disney College Program gives students the chance to be a part of the magic of Disney, while providing for them what DeHollander called "living, learning and earning components."