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ONU students share internship experience at Disney

Chloe Coppersmith and Brianna Biffath talk about their internship experience in Walt Disney World. (photo/ wikimedia)

If you had the opportunity to work at Walt Disney World, would you take it?

Two ONU students, senior Middle Childhood Education major Chloe Coppersmith and sophomore Musical Theatre major Briana Biffath, are currently doing just that.

Coppersmith and Biffath are both part of the Disney College Program, which allows college students to have an internship/job at the park while taking classes and/or workshops.

"I was involved in the show 'Hairspray' a couple summers ago, and a guy who was in the production with me did it when he was in college," said Biffath. "He knows how much I love performing and love Disney, and said it would be one of the most amazing experiences of my life."

Biffath is an Entertainer in the program, meaning that she dances and/or portrays characters (her specific job is a secret so as not to spoil the magic for visitors of the park).

"My job at Disney is to perform every day," she explained. "I am constantly seeing parallels from what I have learned in my classes to what I am executing on the job on a day to day basis."

Coppersmith, on the other hand, has an unrelated position as a member of Attractions and Merchandise in Disney's Hollywood Studios, though she feels that the experience will still be helpful in her career as a teacher.

"At first glance, my job is completely unrelated to my major at ONU. As you start to think about it, it has everything to do with it…It's an experience I won't get anywhere else. I'm interacting with a lot of kids and parents… That ties back into my major; I'll be dealing with a lot of kids in my future as an educator, as well as a lot of parents. Some will be great and fun, others won't be. This experience at Disney has taught me how to handle both ends of the spectrum," she said.

Both women admitted that participation will set them behind in their courses at ONU (the program lasts an entire semester), but they say that the experience has been worth it.

"I took the internship even though I would be a little bit behind because I figured this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would hate myself if I didn't take it," Biffath said.
This opportunity has given both students a chance to learn quite a few career-oriented lessons. Biffath explained that one of the most important things she's learned is that networking is key, especially in a large company like Disney. She explained that, in order to obtain a higher position, it's important to constantly make connections.

Coppersmith listed several important bits of knowledge she's picked up during the program, including adapting to change, independence, and knowing the importance of one person in a large company, though she said that, with three months left, there's plenty more to learn.

Though both women have mostly rave reviews about the Disney College Program, both found one large hurdle: the busing system. Both women explained that this transportation system, meant to get workers from their housing to the park, is unreliable and often runs late.

Coppersmith also explained that some park visitors can be rather unpleasant to workers, though she takes it with a grain of salt.

"Honestly, if you can't be happy at Disney, where can you be happy? I'm just saying," she inquired.

On the other hand, both students found major positives, including free park tickets, the friendships formed and being a part of something bigger.

"The fact that I can … just think to myself that I am a piece of the Walt Disney Company is a great feeling. I love working for Disney and making people's vacations that much better. I love putting smiles on people's faces every single day," said Coppersmith.

"Disney World is honestly like a whole new world (no pun intended)," added Biffath. "The way they run their company honestly blows my mind. They add detail to EVERYTHING. Everything is perfect and run so systematically. They literally have thought of everything and that's why they make the Disney experience for the guests so magical and perfect."

When asked if they would recommend the Disney College Program to other ONU students, both women gave a resounding "Yes!"

Biffath said that the experience is "what you make it," and that it would be most useful to someone working in an area similar to their major, as the connections made may be helpful in the future.

Coppersmith, on the other hand, recommends the program to all students, explaining that it's possible to be involved in the program over the summer or right after graduation so that there aren't setbacks in classes. She also said that those considering the program should take the chance, as that was her experience.

"It turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made."