Your college degree opens many doors when trying to score a job in the real world, but how do you obtain the experience so many employers are looking for? While internships bring many Nazareth students into the Rochester area to gain "on the job" training, others are hitting the road for a semester in Washington, D.C. or Walt Disney World.
"I needed some adventure," says Will Vandelinder '11, who spent the summer in the nation's capital interning at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). He was there with the Washington Internship Institute (WII), a partner organization with Nazareth, allowing students to live and work in D.C., while taking college classes. The Elmira, N.Y., native worked a day job at the NCAI four days a week, and went to classes every Monday. His main project was working on a section of the new NCAI website, but he also attended hearings on the Hill and conferences with tribal leaders. "My internship demanded a lot of critical thinking, research, analysis, communication and other skills that history majors require," says Vandelinder. Several Nazareth students have also gone to the WII as interns for the Export/Import Bank, the Chilean Embassy, and the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
Other Nazareth students pass up the political power of D.C. for a dose of Mickey's magic when they take part in the Disney College Program (DCP). Nazareth partners with Walt Disney World (WDW) in Florida on a one-of-a-kind, combination of education and work experience. Students earn 12 to 15 credits during a semester while they live and work at WDW and take classes on days off.
Whitney Karl '13, has a fall semester merchandising internship at Disney. "I'm a person who likes change," says the Baldwinsville, N.Y., native. "Being at Nazareth, I had my parents an hour away. I feel like the DCP is going to be an opportunity to learn so much about myself."
Nazareth students who have earned their "Mousters" or "Ducktorate" certificates say the Disney program definitely taught them life lessons. "The way you interact with people can radically change their day," said Rachael Young '12, who just returned from DCP in May after a semester working at Mouse Gear, the third largest store in Disney World. Young roomed with Jessica Tette '12, and Apryl Taylor '12, who worked in Zawadi Marketplace at Animal Kingdom Lodge. "Meeting people from around the world, and learning about their cultures, was my favorite thing about the program," said Taylor, who worked with students from far-away locales like Africa, Thailand, and China.
"I had to learn about working for a big company and how to take care of myself; managing my money, paying for food and rent, and taking responsibility for getting to work on time," says Marissa Bregande '11, who earned a coveted role as a character performer at Disney World for an extended internship from June 2009 through the Christmas season. Bregande, a music theater major, shared the performing spotlight with Brett Gunio '12, a math education major who was also a character performer in the DCP.
Gunio performed in front of Cinderella's Castle, and was a flag carrier in the filming of The 2009 Walt Disney World Christmas Parade. "Our stage manager asked if we realized how big of a deal this was, performing on the castle stage," said Gunio. "I was at a loss for words the first time I saw a sea of heads lining up all the way down Main Street USA."
Nazareth alumna Christa Evans '08 believes her two internships at WDW helped her gain her full-time position as program assistant with The Nature Conservancy's Disney Wilderness Preserve in Kissimmee, Florida. "In funding the restoration for the original 8,500 acres of our nearly 12,000 acre Preserve, Disney became our most significant partner. Experience both working for Disney in plant science/conservation and volunteering at the Preserve made me a strong candidate for the job."
If D.C. or Disney isn't the right fit, Nazareth offers overseas study abroad semesters with built-in internship opportunities, said Al Cabral, Nazareth's director of internship programs. "Staying close to campus or home works, too," says Cabral. "Nazareth will help students tailor an internship that works best."
Accepting the adventure is what worked for Vandelinder. "Coming to a big city like D.C. is a bit scary, but it is an 'I can do this' moment. If you step out of your comfort zone, you can meet great people and have great experiences."
Will Vandelinder '11 spent the summer in Washington D.C. interning at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
Nazareth Disney interns (L to R): Jessica Tette, Apryl Taylor and Rachael Young with Donald Duck