BOONE, N.C. — Senior psychology major Alex Young, of Lexington, interned with Disney in fall 2018 through the Disney College Program — an opportunity between eight and 27 Appalachian State University students are selected for each semester.
“I’ve always loved Disney, from the time I was a child. I had a number of friends who completed the College Program before me and looked like they were having such a wonderful time. After doing much more of my own research, I decided to apply because of the great networking opportunities and the work Disney is doing with college students around the world,” Young said.
Disney interns work in the company’s parks and resorts. Young was assigned to an Orlando resort gift shop with retail and guest service responsibilities, learning to go “above and beyond in ways for which the Disney Company has become known,” he said.
The internship taught him the values of hard work, time management and resiliency, he said.
“I definitely think Appalachian prepared me to live up to Disney’s standard,” Young said. “I felt prepared to work with and interact with different people. I definitely feel like being here and being present in this campus community was a great preparation.”
A taste of Disney culture
According to the university’s Career Development Center, Appalachian is in the top 100 colleges and universities Disney partners with for its Disney College Program.
“They like Appalachian students,” said Sharon Jensen, associate director and internship resource counselor.
The Disney College Program is open to students in any major. Appalachian students may opt to be a part-time student by earning academic credit from Appalachian while at Disney. They can also apply for the program up to one year after graduation.
The internship offers a taste of Disney’s work culture and sets them up for the more career field-specific Disney Professional Internship, Jensen said.
Young’s next steps after graduation
Young said he loved his internship so much he hopes to return after his 2020 graduation for a Disney Professional Internship — an opportunity that aligns with his campus leadership passions and experience.
“The specific internship I want to complete works closely with participant housing, communications, education and special events to oversee the Disney College Program. This role incorporates a number of positions and experiences I’ve had here on Appalachian’s campus,” he said.
Young began his Appalachian Experience as a student in Watauga Residential College. He has since served in the following on-campus roles:
- A council secretary of the Appalachian Popular Programming Society, the largest student-led organization on campus.
- A career guide for the Career Development Center.
- A peer adviser in the Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology’s advising office.
“When I got to Appalachian, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. (Vice Chancellor) J.J. Brown got me involved in leadership and taught me it is a profession,” Young said.
Young, who is also considering a graduate program in student affairs, is minoring in leadership studies. He also has completed independent research on leadership development that he is working to publish and present.
That he wants to return to Disney after graduation and further practice his leadership is a testament to how transformational and important internship experiences can be, he said.
“I think that really says something about our experiences — getting those experiences and life skills that I’ve learned,” he added. “That is what makes me want to go back.”
Young said his academic schedule accommodated a semesterlong internship because of the college courses he took in high school through North Carolina College & Career Promise.
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About the Career Development Center
The Career Development Center at Appalachian State University supports the mission of the university and its Division of Student Affairs in developing lifelong learners and leaders by engaging and challenging students within a culture of care and inclusion. Students who participate in the center’s services are able to identify core values, beliefs and skills and use them to articulate relatable career goals; acquire transferable skills and relevant experiences for future professional endeavors; and utilize resources that are available to gain experiential learning opportunities and cultivate professional networks. Learn more at https://careers.appstate.edu.
About the Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology
Appalachian’s Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology serves more than 1,000 undergraduate majors seeking the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, as well as 80 graduate students in the master’s degree programs in clinical psychology, experimental psychology, school psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology and human resource management. Its new Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program began admitting students in fall 2019. Learn more at https://psych.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.