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Walt Disney World (WDW) News Discuss WDW Internship Program Draws Criticism in the News & Rumors forums; LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Dan ****erell spent his time as a Walt Disney World college intern checking guests into their hotel rooms, working as a custodian and parking ...
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    WDW Internship Program Draws Criticism

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Dan ****erell spent his time as a Walt Disney World college intern checking guests into their hotel rooms, working as a custodian and parking cars. He says the experience 16 years ago has been useful in his current job as general manager of the Disney All Star Resort.

    Each year, 8,000 students come to Disney World to work as six-month college interns in one of the largest internship programs in the country. The interns make up a significant portion of Disney World's 55,000-person work force. They learn about customer service and absorb Disney's hospitality culture.

    "It's very different for the students from working at the local mall," said Kristi Breen, manager of college and international recruiting at Disney World. "It's training that I think will stay with someone forever."

    But aside from giving interns valuable experience, the program is a relatively cheap source of labor for Disney and is sometimes a worry for the unionized workers, although union officials approved the program when it began almost 25 years ago.

    "None of them are paid properly," Ed Chambers, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1625, said of the college interns. "They're like indentured slaves ... They live on Disney property. They eat Disney food. They take Disney transportation."

    Most of the college interns earn $6.25 an hour, well below the more than $11 an hour pay for a veteran employee performing the same tasks. Interns also don't receive any pension or health care benefits like regular workers.

    Regular workers sometimes grumble about the college interns when business is slow and their work hours are cut back, such as after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    Last year, the college interns, along with part-time high school students and international students, worked almost a seventh of all available scheduled hours in jobs such as lifeguards, fast food servers and merchandise salespeople, according to figures compiled by the unions at Disney World.

    Disney's California parks also have a college program but it's on a much smaller scale. Only a few hundred students participate in it, and unlike in Florida, the company doesn't offer housing. Disney generally docks $79 or more a week from the Disney World interns' paychecks to pay for housing.

    Some students leave the program like ****erell, with a step on the career ladder at the company.

    But a few, like Steve Cippittelli, leave with dashed expectations.

    Cippittelli, a Schenectady County Community College student, was forced to leave the college intern program last year after a co-worker accused him of making a vulgar remark. Unlike regular hourly workers, who have the right to join unions, the community college student didn't have any labor representation, and he said he was unable to defend himself properly.

    "It hindered my education quite a bit. That was a major requirement and I was not able to finish my college education," said Cippitelli, who hopes someday to work again at Disney World since he loved the experience.

    Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said in an email that the company doesn't comment on individual workers. But the company's goal is for every participant to complete the program and that disciplinary action is taken based on the available facts, she said.

    "There are guidelines students are expected to follow," she said.

    Despite his concerns, Chambers said the program probably is a good experience for the students because they learn what it's like in the working world.

    Joanna Gonzalez, a University of Florida graduate, said serving fast food in the Magic Kingdom helped her become quick on her feet and overcome shyness.

    "We're not there to flip burgers, or to give people food. We're there to create magic," said Gonzalez, 23, who now works at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. "When I worked there, I opened up. The confidence it builds in you is huge."

    Less than half of the students earn college credit during their internships. Those who do pay tuition to their universities and can take classes on subjects such as communications, hospitality management or human resource management taught by Disney executives with higher education degrees. They can earn anywhere from three to 12 credits depending on their school.

    "Many times when the students come back here, I have local employers ask me if they can have some of the students who were in the Disney program ... because Disney has such a reputation in the area of customer service," said Bud Miles, a business professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, whose school sends 75 to 100 students to the program each year. Miles also serves on an advisory board for the internship program.

    Disney World offers a more advanced internship program for alumni of the college program. The advanced program offers work in white-collar jobs that are more closely aligned with students' studies, rather than jobs in the parks or hotels.

    Omarr Cantu, who recently graduated from Texas A&M with degrees in history and communications, worked as a ride operator at the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway in the Magic Kingdom four years ago. His experience this summer is quite different since he is working as an advanced intern in the marketing department of the resort's human resources department.

    ****erell regularly tells college interns that they can handle anything after being in the program.

    "Guests walk up to you and ... they expect all the great service and heritage, and you have to know everything about everything," ****erell said. "It's a bit overwhelming. So I tell the college program students, 'Just roll with it. I guarantee if you get through this thing, you'll get through a lot.'"

    ---

    On the Net:

    Walt Disney World College Program: http://www.wdwcollegeprogram.com AP-ES-07-04-05 0951EDT
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    From what I understand from ppl I know who have gone thru the program and from the article the training Disney gives is very good in the area of social skills. As for the pay rate and housing costs...that is pretty much what most college students earn (due to lack of experience and having to be trained) and just about what colleges charge for their dorms in most cities so I would expect in Orlando that is a pretty reasonable rent judging by the higher cost of living there. Plus there are a lot of other parks that offer internships in some of the same areas that Disney covers...but of course no one is as good as Disney...lol Went to school myself for travel and hospitality management and had I been able to afford to go all the way thru I would have had to do a program somewhere myself be it Disney or a local hotel(which do not pay much more and you still have to pay to live somewhere.
    Remember I have a college age one myself so I know whet she has been paying in rent tho The Little Miss has been working since age 15 in retail so she makes more then my BF.....lol
    It's a Disney thing. If you understood, your only question would be "can I go?"



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    I was a CP this past spring. I had a great time. Yeah the pay and the house ****s. they make you feel like you are living in an army base. Having to show your ID everytime you enter and exit that gets to be a pain. As for the rent, I come the the san Francisco Bay area, SO my little $81 a week for rent wasnt all that much. But when u make only $6.25 an hour that doesnt leave you alot of money to play with. I just think you make the most out of the college program. you wanna have a good time you have a good time. if you dont you dont.

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    this guy in Morocco was a part of Disney's internship, straight out of Morocco. He was ear to ear smiles and was extremely happy to be in America with the notion that yes, he bares the bad for the great with things like pay and all. It was nice meeting him, nice enough to ask for a pic and when I did, he jumpped to the floor and joined Karen in some tunes!

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    I think Disney is doing above and beyond.. most interships in college do not pay anything.. I was in school for early childhood and worked 3 days a week at a daycare w/out being paid.. and went to school full time and had a part time job for $$... Think about it.. You are earing college credit.. you are being paid (even if it's not much), you a learning what it's like to be in the real world.. you get a few months away from your parents.. and your are in DISNEY!!! what else could people ask for??

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    Loved the pic TAmpa! I am sure the Disney program is like many other internships-you learn a great deal and have some experiences that balance out for the bad pay. Has anyone had an internship that they think they were overpaid?

    But I am sure there are downsides to this program, it isn't for everyone.
    I am in need of some Disney magic!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DissyLove
    Loved the pic TAmpa! I am sure the Disney program is like many other internships-you learn a great deal and have some experiences that balance out for the bad pay. Has anyone had an internship that they think they were overpaid?

    But I am sure there are downsides to this program, it isn't for everyone.
    it definately wasn't for me.

    quite honestly, that was the worst job I ever had.

    and it made me realize that I love being there as a guest even more, and if nothing else, I met my fiance there
    All the people will look up and shout: "Save us!" and I'll whisper...'no'.

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    College Program is NOT that bad. Anybody that tells you otherwise just didn't try to have fun. I lived and breathed Disney for 7 months and it had it's bad moments, but when the program was finished I started missing it again. I think it comes from people going into the program expecting a great deal more than they actually get.

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    I did try to have fun,
    however,

    my managers and co-workers made it perfectly clear on the first day that working concessions at MK would not be a fun job....then came Easter

    I have no hard feelings towards Disney or the program, I didn't like it, but I tried, and it just wasn't for me.
    All the people will look up and shout: "Save us!" and I'll whisper...'no'.

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    I undertstand where u are coming from if get stuck with a role that is less than ideal. it can be a pain. One of my roommates was working the platform for the monorail, needless to say i never say him, since he was working 56 hours a week. I have heard Mk is not the place to work generally speaking if you want to have a "good time on your" program. anyways i am out.

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    I was a lifeguard at Blizzard Beach for the Fall College Program in 1998-1999. It was the best experiences of my life. I was lucky because the water parks during that time of year had great hours (10-5). So I worked 9:30 - 5:30. I was able to have fun at night and "kinda" sleep in and I was out early enough to enjoy my evenings (especially Christmas and New Years). Most college program students unless you are lifeguards at the parks or work at Animal Kingdom were not that lucky with hours. I had friends that worked awful hours. Some went in at 5:30 in the morning and some worked until 2 in the morning, even on holidays. The program is not all filled with pixie dust, it has it "typical" college drama. Yes the pay stunk, you lived week by week and left with your credit card filled, but it was all worth it. I made memories and friends there to last a lifetime. I would recommend any college students doing it. Disney is great to work for.

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    Show me a college kid anywhere who doesn't live pay check to pay check (other than the ones whose mommy and daddy send them an unlimited allowance).
    They call me "Nana"

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    My little sister did the program. I think that was the first & only time I've ever been jealous of her. She is pretty shy, but she made some great friends. She actaully (like you Heat) met her husband down there. He lived right below her in the "dorms". She was working in the MK Adventureland area (Tiki Room, Magic Carpets of Aladdin & Treehouse). Let me stress that my little sister is not the disney fan I am. As a matter of fact, when we'd go on long weekend trips, she'd rather lay out by the pool than go to the parks. Anyway, she enjoyed her job for the most part. It was hot, & there were lots of stupid people, but she learned a lot from that. Her biggest complaint was roommate issues. She did have 2 really nice roommies she got along very well with... BUT she had one roommate who would come home very intoxicated almost every night & eat everyone's food without ever contributing any. After that girl was asked to leave the program (due to lots of reasons ) my sister had to room with another girl who was somewhat promiscuos (i can't spell), & didn't mind "having company" while my sister was trying to sleep. We have a cousin who lives down in Orlando & she spent many nights at their house.
    She didn't mind not making any money cuz she'd never had a job where she made any real money before that. She did tell me that because it was part of a school program that Disney was only contributing less than a dollar per hour for their pay. I don't know who was supposed to be paying the rest??? Anyway, I think if she had it to do all over again & she could pick her roommates better, she'd do it again. I know I'd do it if I could work in attractions.
    One of her funniset stories from that was when a little girl came to her and said, "Donde esta ....?" My sis says, "No hablo espanol". The little girl said it again. My sis says again, "No hablo espanol" & shook her head no. So, the little girl puts one hand over one eye & says, "ARRRGH". Ashlee then pointed (with 2 fingers of course) towards Pirates. The little girl ran off happy.
    "What ARRRRGH you doing?"

    "What are you doing?"
    "No, What ARRRRGH you doing?"
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    As with anything I really think that its what you make of things rather than what things are. I spent four years in the service and you know out of the 4000 guys on board ship with me I dont think I got along well with them all. We all know that the service is not the place to become a millionair either, but I would trade what I got to do and the places I got to see for anything. There are those that make a carrer out of the military and I hold them up in high esteem. We must to remember that most of these compliants are coming from young adults who for the first time are on their own and have dreams of starting at the top. But soon find that reallty is to start with lots of work and little pay and long hours to get to where you are making a good living. Just ask a student teacher how much thier making an hour.


    Oh well my pennies worth.

    Going to set down and have another

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    One thing i notice while there was alot of kids took the job part as a joke. Some kids had never had a job in their life and were taken back that they had to work certain hours and could not hang with friends. When they would not show up to work and they were magical kicked they wonder why? The most important concept there was yu had to work, that came first before anything else. you didnt work you were kicked out.

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