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Public Affairs

A world of experience for Disney interns

October 27, 2004

Photo of Disney intern and SFSU student Kristina Huey with "Snow White"This fall, eight SFSU students have braved it all, from hurricanes to camera-happy tourists in Walt Disney World, Florida -- interning under the Walt Disney World (WDW) College Program.

"This is an opportunity for students to experience first-hand how one of the top hospitality companies in the world does business," said Jack Brewer, director of SF State's Career Center and member of the WDW College Program National Advisory Board.

In the eight-month-long internship, students work in various positions at one of WDW's theme parks, water parks or resort hotels. Jobs can range from the elevator operator at the Haunted Mansion to selling balloons on Main Street.

"Disney's philosophy is that everybody starts in the park," Brewer said. "They believe in promotion from within. Disney wants the interns to experience these entry-level jobs in order to learn their business and management philosophy."

SFSU became involved in the program in fall 2002. Since then more than 30 students have interned for the Mouse, interacting with the people who run one of the most successful companies in the world.

Students in the internship can also take any of the seven courses put on by Disney Institute. The courses are free and approved for credit by the American Council on Education.

"In my classes, I've spoken to finance managers from various departments in the park on what I want to do and who I would like to meet," said Michael Ramos, a senior accounting major and a current WDW intern. "Since I've been here, I've attended many networking events organized by Disney -- job fairs and opportunity showcases -- where as interns we get the chance to speak to Disney executives."

Each semester, 3,000 students worldwide participate in this program. The interns live in fully furnished apartment complexes along with others from throughout the United State and the world.

"The most positive thing of this experience is learning how to deal with people from all over the world professionally," said Kristina Huey, a hospitality management major who interns as a park greeter and vacation planner. "In every job, you need the skills to deal with a broad range of people, and you get that at Disney World."

Students who have completed the internship appreciate the opportunity to work with an internationally recognized Fortune 100 company.

"It has been a great experience learning customer service the American way," said Mie Kimura, an international student from Japan who interned at WDW in fall 2002. "Thanks to Disney, I have received job offers from many companies after my graduation."

Kimura is also campus representative for the WDW College Program and has published a book, titled "Beikoku Disney de Mananda Watashi no Takaramono" ("My Treasured Experience from Walt Disney World").

Students interested in the WDW College Program are welcome to attend presentations at noon and 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1 in Jack Adams Hall of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. For more information, visit the Career Center, located in room 206 of the Student Services Building or call (415) 338-1761. Internship details can be found at the WDW College Program Web site.

-- Public Affairs Student Writer Audrey Tang with William Morris

Related story: Alum Barry Braverman was lead designer on California Adventure, Disney's newest theme park. SFSU Magazine Spring/Summer 03


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Last modified October **, 2004 by University Communications