Harding student Emma Erwin is interning with the Disney College Program (DCP) this semester at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Erwin is a freshman music education major from Mobile, Alabama. In her first semester as a freshman, she joined a club and played for the Thundering Herd Marching Band. She then got an opportunity to intern for a semester at one of the most well-known theme parks in the world, Disney World, “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
“I do, as a child, remember saying to my mom, ‘All I want to do is work at Disney World, even if it’s just selling hotdogs at Epcot,’” Erwin said. “During training, I couldn’t help but laugh at that comment, because little did I know that years later I would actually be standing in the African Coolpost, and asking a guest if they wanted chips with their hotdog.”
The DCP has their interns work in a variety of capacities around the parks. Erwin said that she started training in an outdoor vending position, but was moved, after passing a skills assessment test to another job under different management.
“It’s a whirlwind of popcorn kernels, little girls in Elsa dresses asking where the ‘Frozen’ ride is, and lovely flag-printed shirts, but I love it,” Erwin said.
While Erwin said that she is enjoying her time as an intern, it is not without its challenges. Harding University assistant professor of nursing Jeanie Burt recalled the experience her daughter Anya had while working at Disney World full-time.
“We see it just as the magic of Disney,” Burt said. “But from (the performer’s) perspective, it’s work. It’s really hard.”
According to Harding University athletic bands director Wesley Parker, after getting accepted into the program, it was a tough decision for Erwin to make on whether or not she wanted to miss a semester at Harding. He said that Ewin had a lot to think about when considering Disney’s offer.
“Our major is very sequential,” Parker said, “so by her leaving in the spring of her freshman year, it kind of throws off the sequence.”
Parker said he helped her lay out all of her classes that she would need to graduate to see how this internship would affect her career at Harding. He said that he has confidence in her ability to do well in the DCP.
“I’m supportive of her doing that because I feel like she is the type of student that could handle it and could make the transition down there,” Parker said.
Erwin said that there are a few things that she misses about student life at Harding.
“Chapel. Definitely chapel,” Erwin said, “and just the Christian environment in general.”
Erwin’s internship goes until Aug. 3, after which she will continue classes at Harding in the fall.