In August of 2017, William Blue Hospitality Management scholarship student Georgina McCarthy undertook the journey of a lifetime. She packed her bags, said farewell to family and friends, and moved from Australia to the other side of the world; Florida.
Why Florida you may ask? Three words. Walt Disney World!
Georgina’s life was about to change, as she began her journey in the Disney International program. For the next six months, she would live and breathe Disney, as it became her everyday life. As the year goes on, we will follow her journeys, getting to know the ins and outs of the resort, and her experience as she grows both as an individual and as a hospitality specialist. Georgina has now been working at the Disney program for two months. Although it feels like it was only yesterday that her journey began, in actual fact, the halfway mark is fast approaching. Through the wonders of facetime, we were able to sit down with Georgina and find out what brought her to the Disney Program, and how life in the world of Walt is treating her thus far.
So Georgina, what made you decide to apply for the Disney Program? Is it something you have always wanted to do, or was it William Blue’s advertisement of the program that introduced you to it?
I have wanted to do the program for years. I had first heard about Disney’s international college program at one of William Blue’s open days through posters on campus. Working within the hospitality industry, we deliver guest service and experience. Disney has a high expectation of delivering exceptional guest service, and I wanted to be able to have the opportunity to become a part of this and learn the “Disney Way” of service.
The Industry Placement program with Disney further extends the industry immersion dimensions of William Blue’s programs for our students, giving them greater access to networking and employment opportunities upon graduation” – Anthony Mitri, Director of Innovation, Industry and Employability
You’ve been in Florida for nearly three months now. How have you found the transition from Sydney to the US? Did you travel at all first and how has it been settling into Disney?
I travelled for a bit in the US with my family prior to commencing the program. The transition to a different time zone and weather season was a bit of a shock and challenging at first. Saying that though, Disney is extremely accommodating in assisting with the settling in process. Before I began work, I was given a week to settle in. The week included some short induction classes and social activities which were brilliant because it provided me with the opportunity to get to know everyone and become comfortable in the environment I was in before actually starting the program.
You just touched on the induction program at Disney. Tell us more about that. What did the training and induction process involve? Did you find it similar to what you have experienced in the workplace back home or was it a new experience?
Disney has an orderly training program for their college program students. My role is a vacation planner at the Magic Kingdom in the Ticket Transport Centre. My role involved extensive training, something that I actually hadn’t experienced before, and it was a great opportunity to be in such an intensive training environment. The induction involved five days of training, known as “Core Class at Disney University” and it was both theoretical learning and on the job training. During the theory component, the classroom environment was set up as a simulated ticket booth, which was different to what I have experienced before.
In addition to the initial induction training, I have also undertaken regular training classes at Disney University. These have been in the areas of; Selling Relationship Magic, Product Knowledge and Four Key Basics.
Within my program, I also chose to complete a Disney Seminar Series which was a one month program. My class was called Human Resources and Cast Engagement. This class has guest speakers each week who focus on different topics in relation to human resources, for example, training and recognition within the workforce.
How is it living in the staff residence at Disney? Do you have roommates/your own space? Has it helped you meet new people?
The housing complexes at Disney are very accommodating and have exceeded my expectations. I am living in a three bedroom apartment with five other roommates. My complex has a swimming pool, gym, classrooms, a computer room and a service centre. All my roommates are American which has been brilliant for me as it has really helped in my adjusting to the American culture. The complex hosts regular housing social events which have been great for meeting new people. So far there have been multiple welcome parties, a Thanksgiving event, and regular weekly catchups which have played a massive role in me building relationships with my colleagues and being able to connect with new people.
You’re now nearly three months into the program with the halfway mark fast approaching. How have you found the experience so far and what do you hope to achieve in the next couple weeks?
The overall experience thus far has been brilliant! I am very happy and feel extremely fortunate to have the role of vacation planner, as it lines up perfectly with my hospitality specialisation. I usually work six days a week which can be challenging at times. However, I am fortunate to have full access to all the parks during my time off. This is of course super fun, but also provides me with the opportunity to ensure that my knowledge of the resort is accurate and extensive, which works in hand with my job and the need from our customers for park recommendations. The highlight of this experience is learning about how Disney provides excellent service and looks after their guests by following their mission; ‘to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information’.
I am looking forward, in the next couple of weeks I hope to continue to be able to appreciate the program and learn as much as I can. In the space of just less than three months I have gained knowledge about so many different sectors within the hospitality industry and met so many people, I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here holds!
Disney and William Blue Partnership
The Disney name is synonymous with entertainment and enjoyment. Through Disney’s International Program, over 30 William Blue students have been fortunate enough to gain a 6 month paid internship at the happiest place in the world. Twice per year, representatives from the Disney Careers department visit William Blue to meet our students in search of their next Disney superstar! In 2017, five William Blue students started the adventure of a lifetime. Not only do William Blue students get paid for their time at Disney World, all of the hours that they complete overseas contributes to their Industry Placement 1 and 2 subjects.
For more about our industry partnerships click here.