Wednesday, April 27, 2011

School's In for Disney Interns

Students can get valuable experience through the various internship programs offered by Disney.It's that time of year – all over America, school bells are beginning to ring again, kids are gathering their brand-new school supplies, and college students are preparing to move into the dorms. It's time to start learning. But for some lucky and talented students, the learning never stopped. In fact, this summer, they might have done some of the most meaningful learning of their lives ... as Disney interns. Interns, usually paid, get immersed in a real office environment, doing real work related to their career and educational goals, plus they have a chance to meet like-minded students from across the country.

There are opportunities for Disney Internships all over the company, doing all kinds of things – from accounting to sprinkling a little graphic pixie dust in Pixie Hollow – in addition to the Disney College Program at the Theme Parks and Resorts. Current internships, both summer and year-round, are always listed at and offer a unique chance for students to combine real-world experience directly related to their studies with a chance to learn from one of the most innovative companies In the world. We talked to two current interns to see what their summers of work, learning, and Disney magic have been like.

Art student Alexandra Vay found her niche working on the Pixie Hollow online game, using her fine-arts skills to help beautify the Fairies' world. Alexandra is an old hand, interning for her second year. Returning for a second summer was an easy decision since, as she enthuses, "It's much more gratifying than anything in school. We're making a product that goes out to millions of people, so it's really gratifying when you see your work in the game."

In addition, her work on Pixie Hollow has kept her art skills sharp over the summer, preparing her for a demanding class schedule in the fall. "It helped me a lot, it kept me painting all summer, and helped me refine my skills. You don't think of practicing drawing and painting so much over the summer because you get distracted, so I'm so grateful that I draw and paint every single day!"

Graduate student Kathleen Reilly traveled from New York to California for her internship, helping to create original video content for She's found that her work experience has been key in helping her decide her course as a student. "As a graduate student about to go into my thesis year, I'm keeping my eyes open and trying to figure out what I want to explore. Being here in a real setting took me out of my academic bubble. I got to see how all the things I'm learning in school relate to the real world," she explains. "As a student, you're trying to figure out what you want to do and how it's going to relate to the real world. The great thing about being here is that I've gotten a taste of that."

Both interns agree that Disney has offered an experience they could never had had anywhere else – truly a "Disney difference." Says Kathleen, "The great thing about working for Disney is that innovation is the number-one priority. That's really conducive to the environment I want to be in – I love experimenting." The advantages have extended beyond the workday as well. "I never expected to be involved in as many intern events! They want us to learn about different aspects of the company. They really do think it's important for the interns to learn and grow. We aren't just here to work, we're here to learn."

Alexandra adds, "Here you're part of a family – everyone is really good with each other. Disney tries to get the interns to meet and socialize with each other, and become friends." Both interns have made friends both with fellow interns and staffers and memories that will last long after the summer ends.

Would the interns consider a Disney career after school? In both cases, the answer is an emphatic "Yes!" Kathleen explains, "Disney has always been a company where you think 'I'd love to work for them!' but you never think it's going to happen. I've grown up with Disney and been a fan forever, and I can't believe I'm here! My life has changed so much in the past year, because of Disney."

Soon it will be back to school – but come next spring, a fresh group of Disney interns will be wrapping up their final exams, packing their books and getting ready ... to learn.

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