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Chico State

Studying a Whole New World Away

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By Gracey Hessinger, Senior, Communications Studies

Preparing for the Disney College Program wasn’t just a simple walk in the park.GraceyHessingergoofy

It took a lot of effort, determination, and passion to become a part of the program at Walt Disney World in Orlando, where I am today. About 30,000 students apply and only 7,000 are accepted. Thankfully, Chico State had tons of opportunities available that helped me prepare for the internship—a key step to reaching my life goal of being a part of the Walt Disney Corporation.

This year was actually my second time applying to be a part of Disney College. I applied for fall of 2012, but did not get accepted. It was so hard for me to be rejected from my dream job.

But this gave me the motivation to become more involved on campus so I would become a better candidate for the program. During my time at Chico, I worked on campus with Prime Time Productions through University Food and Housing. I also became a part of Greek life, which exposed me to a life of networking and finding commonalities with a lot of people really fast. Joining Greek life gave me a confidence boost, and I became involved with the best experience I have had at Chico State thus far: peer advising for the Summer Orientation Program.

This year, I received the magical acceptance email. And then during my fall semester I found myself working in Walt Disney World!

I was assigned to attractions in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Although it may seem like being a peer adviser for incoming students is totally different than being a cast member for Disney, I quickly realized that the fundamentals for being successful in the two roles are very similar. The interactions have with people in each job can impact their life and make every day a new experience. I get the opportunity to make memories.

GraceyHessingerTeaBarThis experience has served as a confirmation that this is the industry I want to pursue after graduation. To help prepare myself for a job and become integrated with Disney’s professional expectations, I participated in the learning component of the program. Disney Heritage is a course that dives into the company’s historical milestones and Walt’s dreams.  I am also in an Exploring Guest Service course where I learn about the exceptional guest service and discover why hospitality is the hallmark of Disney.

I was also lucky enough to attend workshops for resume writing, professionalism, personal branding, acing the interview, and presentation skills. These workshops have really given me insight into what I will be facing in the “real world.” After finishing all of these workshops and classes, I received my “Mouster’s Degree” and return home to Chico and finish my BA in communication studies.

Now that I’m back home, my goal is to be involved with Disney’s College Representative program. This program is a great way to bring back everything that I have gained to our beautiful Chico campus and to other students interested in a great internship opportunity. Being a representative would be a great chance for me to be a part of the magic while giving back to the program and to some of my fellow Wildcats.