The future of Disney internship programs is up in the air for participant hopefuls. On July 2nd Disney announced that the Disney College Program and International Program were both suspended indefinitely due to the Coronavirus.
Disney cancelled all scheduled programs through the summer as a result of their extended closure. However, many participants were hopeful that the fall programs would still continue when the parks reopened. This of course was not the case. Disney has cancelled all internship programs indefinitely because their main priority is getting full/part time employees back to normal.
Disney has several different internship programs available for college students and graduates. The Disney College Program, International College Program, Professional Internship Program, and Culinary Program are all designed to give students real job experience within the world of Disney.
One that I would like to focus on in this article is the Disney College Program. The DCP has been talked about the most, so for those of you that are not familiar with the program I’ll break it down for you.
What is the Disney College Program?
The Disney College Program is an internship program for college students or recent college graduates. Participants apply to work at either Disneyland or Walt Disney World anywhere between 3-8 months at a time. The program has three main areas of focus, Living, Earning, and Learning. This allows participants to “gain valuable, on-the-job experience working in our parks and resorts, participate in college coursework, and have the opportunity to meet and live with people from all over the country and potentially the world in company-sponsored housing”.
Essentially, participants get to live at Disney World or Disneyland for an extended period of time. It sounds like the dream, but trust me when I say that these students work A LOT. The ‘earning’ portion of the program is really put into action during peak-season times. Participants could work nearly 50-60 hours a week depending on their job and location. Some of these jobs can include PhotoPass Photographer, Attractions, Custodial, Character Attendant/Performer, Merchandise, Lifeguard, and so many more. A lot of the faces you see in the parks and hotels are members of this program.
Students in this program also pay rent per week to live in Disney-sponsored housing. The International Program is exactly the same, except these students usually work at the World Showcase in EPCOT. International students can work in other locations, but they are usually placed within EPCOT the most.
Thousands of students apply each fall and spring when applications open. It’s safe to say that if you are picked for the program you are truly magical!
The program is dear to me because I was supposed to participate in the Late Spring Program this summer as a lifeguard. I was excited for not only the memories and friends I was going to gain, but for the professional experience this opportunity was going to give me. I truly feel for each person whose journey within this program was cut short. We all will be able to make magic one day, but it is just not clear when.
The Future of the Disney Internship Programs
When both Disney resorts closed in March, no one could have predicted the impact it would have. Cast Members would be furloughed with the guarantee of a job at some point in the future. However, program participants were not given that same guarantee.
All internship participants were sent home with a four day notice. Some people only completed two months of their program, while others only completed three DAYS. Each of the participants were given a completion certificate, which really just equated to a nice pat-on-the-back. Just like that, their programs were over.
It goes without saying that everyone understood why the programs were cancelled. The health and safety of others will always triumph over theme park fun. However, it wouldn’t be crazy to say that all of these interns were disappointed with the outcome of their programs.
The night of March 15th was extremely emotional for all guests, Cast Members, and CP’s because there was no telling when the parks would open again. It was such an abrupt end to the magic of both the internship programs and Disney parks.
It can be safe to assume that the internship programs will continue once the regularity of The Walt Disney Company resumes. The only problem with that is no one knows when that will be. I’m confident in saying that these internship programs could very well continue in January of 2021, but I don’t have a magic mirror to tell me if that’s right or not.
I hope that if you are reading this with the intention of participating in one of these internship programs that you do not lose hope. Continue to believe that your opportunity to make magic will be available once again. Tiana sings about how she is ‘almost there’, and I believe we might just be too.
If you are interested in participating in any of the internship programs when they do open, click here to find out more information on each of them.