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Working it: Demystifying the world of college internships

Photo: Art by James Heimer, License: N/A

Art by James Heimer

Photo: , License: N/A

Diana Galvin
Senior at University of Central Florida
Major: Journalism

Orlando Business Journal
Editorial intern, May to August 2012

College credit: Three credit hours
Paid: No, but they compensate for mileage for interns working on stories.
Hours: Thursday 1:30-5:30 p.m., Friday 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

They give us one assignment per week, just to keep us on track. It's a lot of gathering data and mostly writing profiles.
I was expecting to be more overwhelmed. I have a job that I work at 16 hours a week, and my job is more stressful than the internship.
I've been getting what I want out of it: working with the editors, writing stories, getting feedback – just knowing the process. It's a chill atmosphere. The editors have been really helpful.

Anonymous intern
University of Central Florida alumna

The Disney College Program does not permit its interns to disclose internship duties, so this intern wished to conceal her identity.

Walt Disney World
Disney College Program entertainment intern, May through December 2011

College credit: Interns automatically get six credits, but I chose to take a class at Disney – Disney communications – so I didn't go to class for that semester, but I received college credit for going: nine credits.
Paid: Yes. I made $130 per week after rent ($75 per week) was deducted.
Hours: I was working 30-40 hours per week. Also, I was there at a time when they were cutting hours. I've heard people say that they worked 60 hours a week when they were on their program, and I was like 'What? I've never worked that much.' They would get overtime, but I was just working at a time when they were cutting hours, and they were only giving me the hours that I had to get.

It is mandatory that all interns live on property but, for example, if you're married, and you wanted to live with your significant other, then you can get approved by Disney to live off of the Disney College Program property. I lived in Vista Way [with five roommates], which is like the oldest apartment building of the four. … We used to call it Vista Lay. There were a lot of parties that went on. I never really participated in any, but I heard a lot of stories about people hooking up, and they would tell us never to go in the hot tub because you could get pregnant by just stepping inside of it.
Most of the time I worked at Hollywood Studios as a Playhouse Disney character – like the Little Einsteins – for the little ones.
We would get our costume ready, get our headpieces ready, and we would get into the costume. Then we would go to our first set.
Each set was probably around 20 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how hot it was. After each set, we would get a 30-minute break then we would change and go out again – every 30 minutes.
Sometimes I worked eight hours. Sometimes I worked 10 hours. It really just depended on what I did, but we always got an hour break for lunch.
I had a great experience. I know that some people didn't have a good experience, so I think it depends on what your job title is and what you're doing.
I made a lot of great friends. I still keep in touch with my roommate from Texas. We see each other every year, and I still go to Disney on a regular basis.
One of my roommates got fired because she failed an audit. She was a lifeguard, so they audited her, and they failed her on the spot. Basically, they would have someone watch you, and if you took your eyes off the water for like 10 seconds that could make you fail. Basically, they would just check up on you and make sure you're doing your job, and she was having an off-day so she failed along with a couple of other people.
One day, when I was walking around the dining room, I noticed a Make-A-Wish family. I always pay a little more attention to them. So the mom came up to me and said: 'Your show saved my son's life. I just want to thank you guys so much.' She gave me a hug. … Then I saw her crying out of the corner of my eye so I went back over to her, and she collapsed into my arms and said his cancer is cured just because of you guys, so that was just kind of special.

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