Lauren Hoffman grew up in a household where Disney was a part of her life.
The sophomore’s closet used to be filled with costumes of her favorite Disney characters. Late nights were consumed by Disney movies on VHS, constantly on replay. And Walt Disney World instantly became her favorite vacation destination.
“It has just been something I hold near to my heart,” she said. “Now that I am older, I love Disney because it is the only place that you are allowed to be a kid again, be creative.”
That’s what led Hoffman to participate in the Disney College Program in Florida this semester.
Hoffman is working in merchandising for the internship program, which means she doesn’t have one specific job. She can have up to six different jobs in her role.
“When I clock in at work, I get an assignment for a couple hours,” she said. “That assignment could be the same for the whole day, or it could change multiple times throughout my shift.”
According to Disney’s website, people who participate in the internship can advance their strengths and interests, meet guests and cast members from around the country and take part in educational opportunities students can’t get anywhere else. During the internship, students network with leaders, take part in personal and career development classes and build transferable skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, guest service and effective communication.
Hoffman applied for the program online and was accepted into the interview process. The interview process included online interviews that asked questions about how she works with others, how she would handle certain situations and how she felt about family.
“I came to find out, if I would’ve answered a question ‘wrong,’ my web interview would’ve been cut short, and I would not have made it to the next round,” she said.
There were over 11,000 applications for the Disney College Program this year. Hoffman was one of 4,000 people selected for the program.
She said she applied for the program because she was ready for a change and wanted to challenge herself to try something different, and called it a great opportunity.
“My goal is to, one day, market for Disney; therefore, starting from the bottom and working my way to the top is another way for me to not only challenge myself but also see what works from the lowest level to be able to assist and market to the highest ability,” Hoffman said.
So far, she said she has enjoyed getting to know people through the program and interacting with guests.
“I have enjoyed being able to create magical moments for children,” Hoffman said. “I get to be the reason that a child is happy, whether that be because they traded me a pin that they’ve been looking for their whole entire vacation or just because I gave them a Mickey Mouse sticker.”
Although she doesn’t have a particular favorite Disney movie, she enjoys older classics such as “Cinderella,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Mary Poppins” and “Lady and the Tramp.”
“I enjoy the older movies because I believe they all teach the basic valuable lessons I was taught as a child: Always treat others with respect, don’t let someone tell you can’t do anything, never judge a person by their appearance, manners are the most important thing,” she said. “And lastly, love will always prevail.”
She said her favorite Disney character would have to be Eeyore from “Winnie the Pooh” because no matter how hard life gets on him, he never gives up.
Her internship program formally ends in August, but Hoffman said she may extend her stay.
“Disney makes you believe that happy endings can happen in real life as well,” she said.