Disney College Program offers magical experience for students

By Emma McGregor

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The Disney College Program allows UK students to take their learning from Lexington to a Disney Resort.

For more than 30 years, the Disney College Program has provided students worldwide with full-time, semester-long internships at the Disney Resorts in Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif.

“They call it a paid magical experience, and that’s really what it is,” said Kayla Goins, a campus representative for Disney Internships and Programs.

Goins, a mechanical engineering senior, explored Epcot backstage as part of her experience with the program in the fall of 2009.

During the interview process, applicants select their job preferences from a list including food and beverage and character performance. This allows the Disney College Program to accommodate students’ goals and interests.

Goins received co-op credit as an engineering student in the Disney College Program, but students of any major can benefit from networking with Disney, she said.

Gaining real-world experience and new relationships were the best aspects of the program for campus representative Whitney Head, an agricultural biotechnology senior who plans to attend dental school.

“When people asked why I was doing the program, I’d say, ‘Have you seen Goofy’s teeth? He needs braces,’ ” Head said.

According to the Stuckert Career Center, UK students should collaborate with their advisers to determine which course credits apply to the Disney College Program.

The general electives EXP 396: Experiential Credit and EXP 397: Experiential Fieldwork are options for internship credit.

The Disney College Program offers courses such as Disney Heritage, which explores the traditions and operations of the Disney Company, to supplement the work that interns do.

Though these courses may not transfer as UK credit, they help students make invaluable connections within the Disney Company.

“Take every opportunity they give you,” elementary education senior Courtney Haggerty said.

Haggerty, another campus representative, worked in operations and merchandising at Hollywood Studios and aspires to receive a professional internship with Disney.

In addition to professional, academic and volunteer experience, Disney College Program participants earn “cast member” status that lasts through graduation, meaning they receive free admission and discounts at the Disney Resorts.

The cost of participation varies with each resort but includes a weekly housing fee ranging from $80 to $140, according to the Disney Career’s website.

UK students interested in learning more about the Disney College Program can attend an information session at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Stuckert Career Center, room 101. Visit disneycollegeprogram.com for more information.