By Jessica Guirdanella

After graduating high school, I realised my love for helping people and making them smile. Volunteering was the way I found to incorporate this into my everyday life. I volunteer for multiple corporations, including several non-profit ones that have helped my gain experience within my field of study, Business Events Management/ Marketing (La Trobe University). Through this, I learnt I was a practical hands-on learner and could grow my skills when I was working in and outside my field assisting in new projects. I would always be open minded in trying new tasks.

Interning at Disney

In October of 2015, I applied for a Cultural Exchange Program sponsored by the Walt Disney Company. After an interview and a long wait, I received the wonderful news that I had been chosen to be a Cast Member at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Participating in the Internship meant that I would delay finishing my current university course by a year, although to work for Disney was always a dream.

On the program, I was given the role as a Life Guard at a Disney Resort. This meant that people’s safety was my responsibility every day. Professionally, I found myself in many interesting situations. However, this never stopped me to create Magic for all the guests. Making people smile is something I live by and at Disney I was able to go above and beyond in my role to create that happiness. Whether it was getting a child balloons for their birthday or for conquering the ‘scary’ slide, surprising families with the unexpected and having a positive conversation with someone was a great aspect of the work.

Being a Cast Member for one of the largest and most well-known companies worldwide taught me many things. I learnt the ins-and-outs of what it takes to run such a large company. I was surrounded by amazing fellow Cast Members, coordinators and a leadership team that was always assisting their cast members so they could excel in their role. I was extremely grateful when I learnt that I was getting trained in one of my dream roles: Resort Activities. This allowed me to put my skills in working with children to use. I would get to run activities and make sure all kids where smiling and happy!

Half way though my program it was announced that I was receiving a Quarterly award. This award is awarded to Cast Members who perform their role at exceptional standards. I really felt that Disney helped me to grow my confidence and strengthen my communication skills.

What I Learned

One of the things I’ve learnt in my time with the Disney Company is that you’ll always get the work you put in back in another rewarding way. The experience also taught me how important it is to make people smile. I made it my goal to go into work every day with a positive attitude, and got nothing but positive in return. Of course, there were situations where my day was turned upside down, but I always used these situations as something I could learn from.

While overseas, I was sent the news that I had been nominated for a Victorian Young Achievers Award within the leadership category. I was recognised for my work in the community. It was extremely special and has inspired me to continue doing what I’m doing.

If I could give anyone advice, I would tell them to follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you what path to take in life, create your own. If things get difficult, stay positive, find a solution and take it as a learning experience, help others and never forget to Smile.

If you’re considering volunteering, whether it’s to help you gain experience in your field of study or wanting to play a part in making a difference in your community, DO IT! Volunteering is a great way to network and get to know people who are like mined, where you’re assisting with an operation as well as building your own skills.

Gaining work experience is something we encourage our students to complete during their studies. We offer several possibilities for students to gain experience as part of their degree.