SCAD graduates discuss the Disney College Program – SCAD District

Written by Eve Katz, Graphic by Tyler Lowe

I’ve been watching videos on the Disney College Program (DCP) since my early college years. The program has been around since 1981, and a simple search on YouTube will bring up countless videos of program graduates revealing secrets about the interview process as well as their most interesting guest stories. I prepared diligently, clinging to all the advice I could muster, and finally planned to interview for the Spring 2021 program. Just as I made that decision, the world made up its mind. end. Or at least, COVID-19’s grip on the United States has begun.

The cancellation of the Disney College Program is one of the many disruptions 2020 has brought to the theme park industry, but with COVID-19 vaccines becoming more readily available to the public, the program may return soon. This is good news for many students who may be struggling with the smallest pool of internships available, or for those like me who have spent years planning to integrate the program into their college experience. SCAD graduates Montserrat Garmilla, BFA production design 2020, and Katelyn Ackley, BFA production design 2019, both participated in the DCP and spoke about their time in the program for anyone considering interviewing for it at her. return.

The DCP is not only an opportunity to work for the Disney Company, but also a chance to meet other people who have similar interests and goals. “My two roommates [during my time in the program] and some of my colleagues are people who are still a part of my life today and will be for a very long time, ”said Garmilla. “It’s crazy to think that six complete strangers looking for roommates on a Facebook page would all get along so well and become best friends, but we did. We have a great reunion trip every year and always try to see each other whenever we have the chance. One of them even came to visit me in Charleston last weekend.

Ackley, who was hired by Walt Disney Imagineering as a Graphic Manufacturing Design Intern the year following her program, was able to learn more about the technical language associated with attractions and how those attractions work, during her working as an attraction cast member for Live with the Land and the Circle of Life at Epcot in Spring 2017. “I learned a lot more about how theme parks actually work and operate from there. an internal level, which I didn’t fully know before my program, ”Ackley said. “Understanding more of the terms used in the industry is always a useful thing to know and learn, whether it’s internal operations in the parks or behind the scenes on the design side. “

Garmilla also interned for Imagineering under Project Management after working as an attraction hostess for the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride in Spring 2017. Many who want to work for Disney see DCP as the first step in doing so. While doing the DCP is by no means a requirement to later do a work internship or get a full-time job at Disney, it is a popular choice among those who want to move in that direction. “Everything you learn [in the program] can apply to you in the future, no matter where you want to end up, ”said Garmilla. “When I returned to Disney as a professional intern, two of my roommates had also completed the college program. One was in merchandise and now works in public relations for a major retail brand, and the other was a seat and is now an event manager at Disney World full time. They might not seem like related at all, but the chance to work for a respected company and learn from fellow cast members isn’t something you should pass up.

While theme parks may seem “magical” due to the amount of work involved in developing and maintaining the atmosphere therein, working in Disney parks is by no means easy. “I really wish I had known fully that working at Disney and in the theme parks doesn’t always mean pixie dust and magical moments,” Ackley said. “There are certainly difficult days, but there are also great days with memorable moments that are worth the experience as a whole. Any job that relies on customer service requires a fair amount of tolerance, and maintaining such a large and well-known theme park is no small task. Those who wish to apply for the program should make sure that they are passionate about theme parks and ready to commit.

“Some days are long and you’ll be tired, but what you get each day has to do with what you choose to put on,” Garmilla said. “Remember that even though you said ‘Ahoy!’ a thousand times at the entrance of an attraction, every person passing by hears it for the first time, so try to customize the tasks that may seem repetitive and you will find that they will be so much more fun.

Disney places great importance on the happiness of customers. Visiting their theme parks is an experience many look forward to for years, cherished memories for a lifetime. These experiences start, of course, with the theme parks themselves, but are made even more magical by the dedicated actors. “Sometimes a little gesture or a silly joke would make people shine,” Garmilla said. “I once had a sword fight with a little boy in Pirate Square (he won of course) these memories were so fun to make and they always make me smile. knew I wanted to make people smile like this for the rest of my life.

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