MOUNT LAUREL >> There’s a widely-shared TikTok that opens with a selfie view of a young woman with pink hair and a nose ring asking fellow TikTokers to “Tell me something a job has taught you that you will never forget.”
Among the multitude of duet responses, you may have seen the man who shared his memorable experience with the Disney College Program. He posited that during an early orientation session, those in the custodial program were asked to stand up.
Although only a small portion of the room stood up, the presenter said that everyone should have risen, as all staff members should own the responsibility of keeping Disney parks clean. In other words, no one should consider themselves above custodial work. She followed with an anecdote that Walt Disney himself would walk around the parks picking up loose debris. This particular TikToker carried this community mindset with him to all future jobs.
Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) alum Miranda Seguin, of Delran, can relate to this in more than one way. She took off on TikTok, with over 11K likes, when she announced that she’s officially a Disney “cast member.” Seguin, who fosters a love and deep respect for Disney, applied for the Disney College Program in January 2020, shortly before the pandemic upended life as we know it. Although she was accepted, she wasn’t able to begin due to COVID-induced cancellations. However, several months ago, Disney encouraged those who lost the opportunity to join last year to reapply.
“I reapplied in March, and I was accepted by the end of March,” Seguin shared. “I started my college program on June 15, and I am an attractions cast member at Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom! I couldn’t be more excited to have my foot in the door!”
Before she got there, however, Seguin received a foundation in pastry arts at RCBC. She chose the college due to its local convenience, reasonable tuition and highly-touted culinary program complete with a 19,000 square foot state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Center in Mount Holly.
“I knew RCBC had a wonderful culinary and pastry program, so that was one of the reasons I wanted to go to RCBC compared to other schools in the area,” Seguin said. “Plus, I took out loans and going to RCBC really helped keep costs down.”
Miranda’s favorite memories from RCBC stem from her experiences in the kitchen.
“I couldn’t have asked for better chef instructors,” Seguin said. “My pastry classes were the highlight of my week. I loved working with my peers to create delicious treats!”
As for what drew her to the Disney College Program, Seguin’s dream job involves working in the bakeries on property, so to her, the Disney College Program is the perfect start on that path.
It’s easy to see why so many college students are drawn to Disney’s program. In addition to low housing fees and unique experiences, participants get to meet people from all over the world. The Disney College Program landing page beckons visitors to “Discover the magic within you.”
For RCBC hospitality and tourism student Carley Kelley, of Marlton, it also serves as a portal to a perfect opportunity for college students looking to gain “dorm-life” experiences without the hefty price tag of a 4-year college. Kelley, who’s currently on her second tour with the Disney College Program, was recently accepted into Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina, where she will explore the housekeeping path.
“Disney provided an opportunity to get that community living while gaining work experience,” Kelley shared. “My experience has been very positive. There’s a lot of teamwork, making friends and everyone is very friendly here. Housekeeping is the backbone of hospitality where all of the hard work comes into play, and I’m learning that firsthand now. It’s a really interesting perspective.”
Kelley’s experiences in her Intro to Hospitality course at RCBC helped prepare her for her role at Disney.
“The way the class was taught made me more intrigued in the field of hospitality, so the timing really worked out for me,” Kelley said. “It ensured I was on the right path, and many of the professors at RCBC have been very available and involved, even for online courses, so it’s been very helpful.”
Although Kelley switched majors from psychology to teaching to hospitality and tourism, she credits Disney with helping her to solidify her decision to stick with hospitality. The program has provided networking opportunities and has encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone. Her initial experience brought her to PizzeRizzo in Hollywood Studios, where she worked in the quick service and food/beverage realm for a couple of months before COVID shutdowns took place. After serving another few months in South Carolina, she’ll take on a new position in Orlando for a six-month stint.
“Disney has given me an opportunity to explore different roles within the company and get a feel for different things, so I’m just trying to take advantage of everything that I can and learn what works for me,” Kelley said.
In the future, she hopes to gain experience in merchandising and in a more front-facing position. She credits RCBC with laying the groundwork for her transition to Disney.
“I feel like it’s a really good college, and I’ve always had all these opportunities laid out for me there,” Kelley said. “RCBC always has open doors, but it is what you make it. With that kind of mindset, I was able to take advantage of what Disney had to offer, as well, and they went hand-in-hand.”
Interested in a culinary career with Disney? Get started on a Disney Culinary Program where you’ll master your craft, as you work side-by-side with culinary leaders in areas that range from catering and fine dining to pastry and quick service. Visit DisneyPrograms.com to learn more about both the Disney Culinary Program and Disney College Program.