Making Magical Moments: My Disney College Program Experience

jackie bassey pooh characters

By Jacqueline Bassey

I have always had a set plan in life: finish school as fast as possible at the top of my class so I could start being successful young. I was focused on getting internships, going to every networking event I could find, and making connections. Taking a semester off to work at Disney was never in my plan. One day I saw an advertisement online for the Disney College Program, and I decided to apply for fun. I had heard it was extremely competitive, and people I knew who applied waited weeks or even months to hear back from the recruiters. I went through all three interview stages in two weeks, and was accepted. My parents had never heard of the program and thought I was going to drop out of school for good and ride Space Mountain all day. After conducting a lot of research and convincing my parents and myself that this was a good idea, I made the decision to enroll in the Disney College Program this fall.

Everyone gets a role in the program. Because I am a Marketing major, my first choice was to work in sales and merchandise. I was accepted into this field but I did not know where I was going to work until a week before the program began. I am located in the Emporium on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom; specifically, the Emporium is on the left side of Main Street and is that gigantic strip of stores that are all connected. My costume is very familiar to me. I wear a plaid skirt, which was my uniform in Catholic school from kindergarten through 12th grade. I did have to adjust to a new schedule. My location is the last place that closes in Magic Kingdom, so getting home at 4:30 am is now normal for me.

The second part of the program is the school. I take two classes: “Organizational Leadership” and “Creativity and Innovation.” The course load for the four-hour classes is time consuming, since I also work 45 hours a week. However, my classes are very interactive, and I get excited to go each week. My teachers have had several different management roles throughout Disney with years of experience. The best part is the field work: I get to go into areas of Disney and observe how businesses run and the different consumer behavior styles that guests exhibit. I am learning leadership skills that can only be taught by leaders of a Fortune 500 company with excellent guest service.

The final component of the program is the fun! I have made friends from all over the world. I have a roommate from Puerto Rico, one from Texas, and one from the one and only Long Island. When we are not working, we go to the parks as much as we can. We also have opportunities to attend special events. We got a backstage tour of Fantasmic and sat in the front row for the taping of the holiday parade.

My absolute favorite part of the program is making magical moments for guests. I have been part of proposals and birthday celebrations, and I make little girls become princesses for a day. It does not matter how old a guest is; they came to Disney for the magic, and it is my job (with the help of my boss, Mickey) to create homemade magic with a little pixie dust. In the words of Walt Disney, “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever.”

From College Student to TV Industry Professional: How I Made It to Hollywood

By Ronnie Amato (’17)

In 2013 I started my journey at Molloy College as an undeclared freshman not quite sure what I wanted to do with my life. Four years later, I am a college graduate living in California and starting my career in television. I couldn’t have done it without Molloy.

Over the last four years, the professors and faculty at Molloy have gone above and beyond for me. Not only did they help me find my passion, but they also challenged me and allowed me to develop and perfect my craft.

During my senior year, I was inspired by my professors James Cohen and Thomas Kenny to apply for an Emmy internship with the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences. Both Jamie and Tom are members of the Academy, and they recognized I had what it takes to get the internship. Out of the 1,500 people that applied, I was one of only 50 to be accepted into the program. I was selected to work at Bunim/Murray Productions in Glendale, California. Bunim/Murray Productions is credited with creating the reality TV genre and is known for Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Real World, Project Runway, and The Challenge. This year alone, Bunim/Murray Productions is up for 12 Emmy nominations.

For eight weeks, I was exposed to all areas of post-production: digitizing, assistant editing, shadowing editors, offline editing, online editing, audio, and music. At the end of my internship, I was hired as a digitizer at Bunim/Murray. I am responsible for the ingest of media for all of their shows. I will also be training to take my AE test so I can become an assistant editor.

I am so excited to start my career, and I know none of this would have been possible without Molloy. The Communications and New Media departments have done a phenomenal job of making sure I was not just a number in a classroom. They provided me with so many great mentors and alumni inside and outside of the classroom who have years of experience in the industry. I had classes as early as freshmen and sophomore year where I was exposed to the same equipment and software used by professionals. These hands-on experiences gave me a competitive edge when looking for internships and jobs.

I always tell people I didn’t choose Molloy; Molloy chose me. I wasn’t the same person four years ago that I am today. The College helped me build the foundation of knowledge and experience I needed to start my career. Molloy made me realize anything is possible as long as you put in the hard work.

Images courtesy of Ronnie Amato.