Tamia Gregory and Sabree Primus
On Thursday, February 16, 2023, representatives from the Walt Disney Company visited the campus of Delaware State University to speak about their College Program HBCU Cohort, powered by the Disney on the Yard Summer Program and in the Education and Humanities Theatre, starting at 8:30 in the morning.
Representatives Courtland Jackson and Taylor Barfield, alumni of the Disney Summer Internship program, are HBCU alumni as well, attending Bethune-Cookman University in Florida and Bowie State University in Maryland, respectively. They each spoke about their experiences at Disney and how that opportunity placed them in their current positions in recruitment. Courtland worked concessions selling popcorn, and Taylor was a park photographer, taking pictures of guests in the park.
They revealed that Delaware State has the highest number of applicants to the Disney Internship Program, which inspired their visit to the university. Prospective students were encouraged to keep in mind that the Walt Disney Company has a lot of supporting infrastructure – Hulu, Pixar, 21st Century Fox, National Geographic, and more. During their time in the College Program, students are assigned mentors who can advocate for and network with them in hopes of placing them in front of opportunities they are interested in.
For the College Programs, participants will be working in the parks to develop a sense of “working from the ground up.” In fact, many of the representatives for the Disney company started in the College Program.
We were allotted the opportunity to interview Jalynn Turley who serves as a Disney Active Alumni & Disney College Ambassador. We asked Ms. Turley a series of questions surrounding her experience while interning at Disney and here were her responses:
What are some words of advice you may have for potential Disney Internship applicants?
Just applying for any internship is putting yourself on such a good path. But when you apply for a Disney internship? You are allowing yourself to have way more opportunities within The Walt Disney World Company. This includes ESPN, National Geographic, ABC, HULU, & so much more.
What are some pros and cons of your Disney Internship experience?
Pros of the internship included being able to work at a Disney Park & be a part of the magic, living in Florida for 3 months (housing is given), getting paid weekly, and Putting Disney on your resume. Some cons (only toward the Disney college program HBCU Cohort) included not being able to pick where you work, and long hours.
If you had the chance to re-do your entire experience, would you have changed anything? If so, then what would you have done differently?
No, my experience taught me so much like time management skills, money budgeting skills, & communication skills. I worked in the most diverse park, EPCOT, so I was able to communicate with people from all over the world, I had to pay for rent which taught me how to manage my money for groceries and other things I wanted to purchase, and because I worked long hours, on my day off I had to figure out how to manage my sleep schedule and also have fun and go to the parks.
If you could describe your experience in 3 words, what would they be and why?
Magical, adventurous, fulfilling – magical because it’s Disney! Disney is just so great at making its employees experience magic. I had plenty of moments where I was able to spread that magic with guests. It was adventurous because going to Disney was my first time being super far from home, so I was able to explore Orlando on my days off & I got to meet so many people that made my experience worthwhile. Fulfilling because after my program was over, I got to reflect. Saying goodbye to my leaders, coordinators & cast members was so hard. Disney helped me overcome so many of the little fears I had, like controlling a ride & always having to find solutions to problems. They even offered me the Disney College Ambassador position and I was so overjoyed.
How has your internship experience at Disney prepared you for future endeavors in your career field?
Disney taught me a lot about being a leader and taking charge of situations where it is dire to fix a problem & create a solution.
Describe the networking and career opportunities you were able to take part in as an intern for Disney.
Because I did the HBCU Cohort we had the opportunity to talk to other Black executives who work within The Walt Disney World Company, and we got to build connections and hopefully get connected to someone in our field. We also received mentors that we were able to talk with about work and just about the next steps in our careers and things.
If you are interested in applying for an internship at Disney, or you are looking for more information, feel free to visit their website (Disney Careers).