Disney College Program shows students ‘a whole new world’

Shelby Rogers, left, at Disney’s Magic Kingdom earlier this semester. Rogers is interning as part of the Disney College Program.


Most college students long to intern with major companies. They look for corporations that further their career goals and provide valuable hands-on experience for their future jobs. These internships can make or break college careers, and if successfully completed, they can give students a foothold for a job upon graduation.

And then, there’s the Disney College Program.

Founded in 1981, DCP provides participants these opportunities and more. The perks are many: free Disney park admission, 20 percent discounts on food and merchandise and behind-the-scenes knowledge of company events before the public is given.

In addition to the perks, participants gain valuable insight into one of the world’s most beloved companies and make important corporate connections spanning countless occupations.

Becky Tinker, associate director of Career Services and WKU’s liaison with DCP, said WKU students have participated in DCP since the early years of the program.

Currently, 15 Hilltoppers work as part of this semester’s program, and eight have met with Tinker to discuss their next semester at the “happiest place on Earth.” These eight will become part of nearly 8,000 college students and recent graduates who participate in the program each term, according to DCP’s website.

Dillon Martin, a theatre major, participated in the spring 2013 program as a character performer, and he said wanting to work for Disney was something he couldn’t help.

“Being a theater major, I am drawn to performing, but being a human, I am drawn to Disney,” he said. “I auditioned for the DCP because I, like so many others, made a connection with Disney and desired to work in the happiest place on Earth.”

After his program ended, Martin decided to become a seasonal cast member and plans on remaining with the company as he transitions from his college career into a professional one.

Elizabethtown senior Ashley Valentine also participated in the spring 2013 DCP as a seating hostess at Epcot’s Coral Reef restaurant. She called the experience “rewarding,” but not without its challenges.

“The most difficult part for me was the language barrier and trying to communicate with international guests,” she said.

Taylorsville junior Konnor Barlow will be heading to Orlando for the spring 2014 program in merchandising.

“Going into the program, I am expecting to be really busy,” Barlow said. “Working for The Mouse isn’t all fun and games, but at the same time there are a lot of fun and games.”

Barlow said he’s looking forward to face-to-face interactions with Walt Disney World guests no matter where he is placed in the company. He said the DCP will give him experiences he can use the rest of his life.

It’s these skills that Tinker said keep students interested in the program year after year.

“Students learn customer service from the best in the business,” she said. “You can transfer that skill for any line of business or employment environment… For students who are okay with being away from home for a semester, it’s a great program.”

Shelby Rogers, Herald reporter, currently participates in the Disney College Program as an attractions hostess in Tomorrowland. She also runs a blog chronicling her DCP experience called “The Disney Life,” which can be found at thedisneylife.wordpress.com.