20something profile: Debbi
This post was written by Debbi, a Disney employee who met her hero John Lasseter:
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
Most would say that I currently have a dream job: I work at Disneyland Resort, The Happiest Place on Earth, as a Park Event Sales Coordinator.
However, more on that to come. I graduated from UC Santa Barbara in June 2011 in three years because I wanted to finish my major (communication) and begin working as soon as possible. My last year of college was one of the best in my life to date — I networked, established wonderful friendships, road tripped, attended fun events, held over 10 different internships, joined many campus organizations, and really put myself out there. Best of all, I secured a job with The Walt Disney Company three months before graduation.
A week after I graduated, I began working for the company in the Disney College Program as an Attractions Hostess. The Disney College Program is such an amazing opportunity to get your foot in the door with Disney and establish a great network. I highly recommend this 6-month internship program to anyone who dreams of working for the company, especially because it’s flexible with school (while I entered the program directly after graduating UCSB, many others choose to go through it while still in college).
I was in the Disney College Program with a sole purpose: to gain the skills necessary to be eligible and in consideration for a Disney Professional Internship, which were more career-oriented and tailored to a specific major. I applied for over 15 different Professional Internships but only received an in-person interview for one: Park Event Sales. I was fortunate enough to land the internship, which truly kick-started my career. I began as a Professional Intern directly after my College Program term ended in January 2012, was extended from June 2012 to January 2013, and was promoted to a coordinator position in October 2012 midway through the second half of the internship.
Throughout the duration of my internship, not only was I in charge of ticket sales for off-site hotels and convention groups, but I also had the opportunity to meet Disney executives, network with leaders throughout the Resort, travel to Walt Disney World, partake in extremely fun cast activities, drive around in golf carts, attend meal tastings, shadow a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding, have fun in the workplace, and best of all, was a part of Disney history when Disney California Adventure Park completed its $1.1 billion expansion project to encompass Cars Land and Buena Vista St. I met my hero, John Lasseter, during this Cars Land press event and was floored (literally — no pun intended with the cars lingo).
I have worked at Disneyland Resort for about 1.5 years, and it has been a priceless experience full of wonder, magic, and pixie dust. I am currently in a temporary assignment role on my team; my contract ends in October. After evaluating my personal and professional goals for months, I decided to finally take the plunge and announce that after my role with Disney ended, I would be moving to New Zealand to work abroad for a year on a work holiday visa.
My ultimate career goal has shifted a bit since I began working for The Walt Disney Company. I will always dream about being the PR Director for Pixar Animation Studios, but at the moment, I am aspiring to work in the travel industry and use my communications background through travel and experiences abroad. I aspire to work in a variety of different countries and states to diversify my skill sets and networks.
In today’s economy, most individuals are often scared to step into the workforce because of the high statistic of unemployed college graduates. While everyone has different experiences and advice, my own is this: network as much as you can, reach out to key contacts, and remain optimistic. I have always been fortunate enough to land job opportunities or things lined up for me, but who knows where I will be working in New Zealand.
Remember that the only person who can achieve your lifelong goals and dreams is you — you need to be the one who reaches out to people (whether through social media, e-mail, in person, etc.) and asks for informational interviews that could lead to an internship or job down the road, you are the only one who can submit your résumé… you are the key to your own success. Always stay humble and never let life get you down, because everything ends up working itself out in the end.
My dream company ever since I was a child was The Walt Disney Company. My first paid job was with this dream company, and come October, I will be leaving it to follow my next dream of living and working abroad. I hope to have the opportunity to find an international program that allows me to travel to different countries, since the #1 thing I am passionate about most in life is traveling the world. I also hope that my story sheds light on the fact that, despite the ironic interplay with Disney, dreams really can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.
Moving to a completely different country to pursue my life passion is the most courageous and riskiest thing that I’m going to undertake. Let this be a lesson that, “if you can dream it, you can do it” (I swear I’m not flooding this with Disney quotes on purpose). I want to continuously reach out for newer, richer, and more challenging experiences, and I will not let anyone or anything stop me from living the life that I love.