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Disney delivers an intern's dream

By Alexis DeBrunner
On March 14, 2014

When the most magical place on earth started recruiting for interns, Miami University students quickly jumped in line.

The Disney program is a semester-long internship opportunity for students of all grades and majors that allows students to work within the Disney brand and gain experience and connections.

Career Services director Mike Goldman said student ambassador Sarah Chapman deserves full credit for connecting Miami students to this program.

The program recruits out of Bowling Green, but the amount of accepted Miami students already outnumbers the members from Bowling Green.

"In less than a year, 18 students have committed to the program," Goldman said. "It's an attractive opportunity because of the Disney brand, the immersive experience of semester-long internships, and the fact that it's cross disciplinary."

The Disney program serves as a continuation of a childhood dream for Miami senior Morgan Lanham, who was accepted to the program earlier this year, after wanting to apply since her freshman year.

"I first went to Disney when I was 18 months old, and my family loves Disney and has gone pretty much every year since," Lanham said. "I was there four times last year and every time I would go down, I would talk to people who worked there and every person I talked to said it was the best experience of their life."

A history and international studies double major, with a lusophone studies minor, Lanham said she put off applying to the program until her senior year because she felt she never had the time to do it before now. She is grateful the program offers so many opportunities to students of all ages, even seniors, and has so many different areas that students can be a part of.

"During my interview, I was fortunate to have my international studies background because I was able to talk about all the countries I've traveled to and how I communicated with people there even if I didn't speak the language," Lanham said. "Disney has a very international focus because so many people from all over the world come there, so having that skill really benefitted me."

Lanham said the sense of the camaraderie the workers described to her was something that really inspired her to look into the program and pursue it. However, it wasn't until one of her bosses asked her if she had considered applying to the program that she actually pursued getting involved.

Once in her training, Lanham said she will find out exactly which ride she will be working with, since she already knows she will be placed in attractions. She hopes to be placed in an attraction like the "Jungle Cruise" because of the opportunity to involve patrons and make their experience better.

While her initial interest in the program was inspired elsewhere, Miami's Career Services programming did help Lanham as she entered into the application process.

"Last fall I went to one of the programs that was hosted in FSB that was talking about this Disney program, and although I already knew I wanted to be a part of it, it was really helpful to ask them questions about when to apply and what to put on the application," Lanham said. "They were good about being there to help people succeed at being apart of it."

Informational sessions like the one hosted in the Farmer School of Business are only a few of the resources Career Services provide to students to help them find the perfect opportunities for them, Goldman said. Miami's CAREERlink is another excellent resource for students searching for job or internship opportunities.

"Last year, employers posted more than 4,000 jobs on CAREERlink," Goldman said. "Then of course we have our two career fairs which are still primarily oriented towards business and engineering students, but we are doing our best to change that."

Goldman said while the career fairs are usually very business and engineering focused, students need to understand it's not personal against other majors, but that different majors have different recruiting methods and cycles.

"We need to expand the definition of an internship," Goldman said. "We put an unnecessary burden on many of our students because they thing they need to have a traditional internship. When in fact there many other experiences, with Miami, and away from Miami, that have the same attributes that employers value."

Some of the other experience Goldman suggested included high-impact student jobs, service-learning centers, faculty supervised research, studio projects and leadership opportunities with student organizations.

Career Services offer many resources on their website for all majors to find opportunities within their field's, but Goldman said the biggest challenge for students is learning to articulate, particularly if not in the business or engineering fields, the value of the skills they have acquired at Miami in their resume and in their interview.

"Meet with your career advisor, come to career services programs in your first and second year, never hesitate to talk to your faculty who have their own networks," Goldman said. "And most importantly, be engaged."

Disney is just one example of a new employer and their approach to recruiting new interns, Goldman said. Another company recently added to campus is Amazon. Based out of Seattle, they held a web information session with about 40 students where they had the opportunity learn more about Amazon, the internship and ask questions.

With all the resources provided, and Career Services' dedication to maximizing students opportunities, it is up to Miami students to be proactive and smart about their career futures. The alumni network is always a tool, Goldman said, and a Miami education has obvious value.

Companies are noticing the Miami difference, and Disney especially is beginning to realize the value of a Miami student, Goldman said.

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