CAMDEN — Danielle DeVito never knows who she might bump into next on her way to class or to work. She could stop for a quick chat with Snow White, exchange pleasantries with Woody and Buzz from Toy Story, or even take a selfie with Mary Poppins.
Anything is possible at the proclaimed “happiest place on Earth,” and for the next six months, Walt Disney World will be DeVito’s home, college campus, and place of employment.
The Rutgers University–Camden junior is at Walt Disney World in Florida as a participant in the prestigious Disney College Program, a paid internship in which students from across the country take part in personal and career development courses while building essential communication, problem solving, and teamwork skills.
It might sound cliché, but for DeVito, Disney World really is a place where dreams come true.
“My dream is to work within the Walt Disney World company,” says DeVito, a Sewell resident and Gloucester Catholic High School graduate. “I enjoy interacting with guests, and getting to know each and every one of them on a personal level. I would love to be able to make someone’s day by providing them with a magical moment here.”
Disney College Program students work in more than 20 different positions at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California. DeVito is majoring in hospitality management at the Rutgers School of Business–Camden, so she’s a natural as a quick service food and beverage intern at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, where she works at the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, a restaurant with a Louisiana flavor.
“I’ve always wanted to pursue my culinary passions and working in a resort restaurant provides me with a lot of insight into the business,” DeVito says. “I am gaining restaurant experience, but also expanding my knowledge of hotel management through courses I am taking here. I applied to the program in order to take a step closer to my career goals.”
At Rutgers–Camden, DeVito is a familiar face at the Impact Booth, the information hub and student assistance center on the main level of the Campus Center, so she’s already very familiar with making visitors feel right at home.
Her hospitality training and resort industry experience at Disney World has DeVito considering culinary school after she graduates from Rutgers–Camden, but much like Disney World itself, anything is possible.
“My goal is to explore the many different options in the hospitality field, that way I can pursue anything I want,” she says.
Students like DeVito work up to 40 hours per week through the Disney College Program and live in fully furnished apartments near the Walt Disney World Resort. The competitive program is open to full- and part-time students from across the country.
Students complete a general application, online interview, and telephone interview prior to being accepted. DeVito is part of the Fall Advantage Program, which runs from May until early January. A standard fall program runs from August until January.
It’s long time to be away from home, DeVito admits, but she says she’s excited for the opportunity to meet new people and hone her professional skills. Paraphrasing Mickey Mouse himself, DeVito says, “See ya real soon, New Jersey!”