Disney’s true magic comes from being able to make a difference in someone’s day, said Kyle Klebowski, senior recreation management and Disney campus representative.
Klebowski, who was a Disney character performer in the role of Prince Charming during 2004, had his most memorable experience making a difference for someone when he and the entire Disney cast set up a special photo shoot on Christmas Eve with Lexy Michaud, whose little sister had just passed away.
“She was crying. Her whole family was crying,” Klebowski said. “She was old enough to understand what was going on, but not old enough to lose the magic. She was really still mesmerized by everything that was going on.”
“As a member of Disney’s cast, you have a chance to make a difference,” said Aaron Marando, senior communication studies major and Disney campus representative.
“A lot of the cast members really make the guests’ stay,” said Marando, who worked as a Disney super greeter at Epcot in 2004. “That’s why people come back every year to see those attractions for years and years.”
Both Klebowski and Marando were part of the Disney College Program, a paid internship experience offered each spring and fall to students in any graduating class and major. Next week, a Walt Disney World College Program recruiter will be on campus to present information about the program and sign up interested students for a phone interview. The presentations will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday and 1 p.m. on Tuesday in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.
“(Students) have to attend a presentation to even be considered for the program,” Klebowski said. “They want to see and meet with you first hand.”
An online application and information about the program are available at disneycollegeprogram.com. Students can also e-mail Klebowski at [email protected] or Marando at [email protected] with any questions.
“One reason why people say they don’t want to work with the program is because they’re afraid it will ruin the magic,” Marando said. “That hasn’t happened for me. I still love going back.”
Seeing what happens backstage is amazing, Klebowski said.
“You really get to see a new side of Disney just seeing how everything operates and how it all fits together,” Klebowski said. “It’s really impressive. I got goose bumps every day I walked into Magic Kingdom.”
Participants in the Disney College Program are guaranteed 30 hours of work per week with the option of working extra hours. Depending on the work participants are doing, they can be paid upwards of $6.85, which is the base pay rate, Klebowski said. Participants also have the opportunity to take two classes for college credit, depending on the home university’s approval.
“They try to encourage an attitude in you,” Marando said. “That’s one of the things I most regret – not taking one of those classes.”
The seven courses offered through the program, which include classes in communications, hospitality and organizational leadership, are accredited by the American Council on Education and are in areas of Disney expertise.
“It’s just really cool the way they empower you,” Klebowski said. “I took the communications class. It was basically just a speech class, but they teach you what they’d look for in you. You’ve got a great opportunity to meet people and network. It definitely gives you a leg up when you go into the work force.”
With a number companies trying to imitate Disney’s success by modeling themselves after its focus on friendly, professional service, Disney work experience is a plus in the eyes of many employers, Marando said.
“Very rarely do people ask me, ‘How’s the biscuits and gravy working for you?’ said Marando, who has also worked at Bob Evans restaurant. “They do ask me about my entire experience with Disney, what I learned and what transferable skills I got from the experience. It’s definitely resume building.”
Contact alumni affairs reporter Joanna Adolph at [email protected]