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Pictured left to right are SAEM majors Ryan McMahon, Miranda Peel and Olivia Siemer. | Photos submitted by students
L to R: Miranda Peel, Ryan McMahon and Olivia Siemer

Junior sports, arts and entertainment management majors Ryan McMahon, Miranda Peel and Olivia Siemer are spending their semester in Florida interning for one of the world's most-admired entertainment companies — Walt Disney World.

Below, the students describe why they chose to intern for Disney, their internship experiences, how their SAEM classes have prepared them and their career goals.

Why did you decide to spend a semester interning at Disney?

Ryan McMahon from Mars Area High School in Mars, Pa.: Growing up I always watched Disney movies and knew about Disneyland and Disney World, but I never really had the chance to go until I grew up. When I was 18, my friends and I took a very random trip to Florida one weekend. Knowing I was that close to Disney World I told myself I have to go, so I used almost all of my money to get into Magic Kingdom. It was well worth it. Getting to see all the children and their dreams coming true made me want to work for the Walt Disney Company so I could help create these magical moments.Also, I want to be a prince.

Miranda Peel from Burrell High School in Lower Burrell, Pa.: When I first stepped foot in Magic Kingdom back in 2014, I just knew it's where I wanted to work. I talked to a couple cast members during my trip who were in the Disney College Program at the time and they just loved it! After graduation, I want to work for Disney. Getting into the College Program is just the first step of working my way up in the company. I love making others smile. I love helping others. Disney is the perfect place for that!

Olivia Siemer from Indian Creek High School in Wintersville, Ohio: I've always loved the Disney brand. Cinderella has been my favorite movie/character for as long as I can remember. The only family vacation we took when I was a child was to Walt Disney World. Also, I've always been a Jonas Brothers fan, and they were signed to Disney's record label, Hollywood Records. After finding out that an internship is required for SAEM majors, I knew I wanted to do it with Disney. I have friends who have done the Disney College Program, and they loved it so much. Seeing how much they loved it, and knowing how much I loved Disney as a whole, I knew that it was the perfect fit for me.

What have you learned in your internship?

Miranda, interning at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Mad Tea Party in Magic Kingdom: I've learned so much in my role in just the past couple months including how to better interact with guests. Coming down, I was a little nervous about the guest interaction since I am shy, but after my first shift, I was perfectly fine! I've had so many magical moments with guests so far. It makes me super happy knowing I've had an impact on their family vacation!

Olivia, interning in merchandise on Main Street at Magic Kingdom: Patience is the main thing I have learned so far. Walt Disney World is the number one visited theme park in the WORLD. There are a lot of language barriers that come into play and you just need to make sure that doesn't stress you out and you find a way to work around it! Just as there are a lot of international guests, there are also cast members from all around the world. It's fun to talk to them about their cultures and what it's like where they're from. My favorite guests are the children. When you're talking to children all day, you have to be creative and show some imagination, and that's something I've gotten better at during my time here. Also, I have made a lot of friends in various fields, some of which will be great networking contacts once we begin our careers!

Ryan, interning at The American Adventure in Epcot: I have learned a lot about history, how the company works, how to make kids stop crying with stickers and people skills and how to deal with all types of people. I'm also learning about different cultures around the world. I think this is one of the three most rewarding things I'm getting out of my internship (along networking and making a family's trip to Disney magical and memorable). I now have friends from Mexico, Norway, China, Japan, Italy, UK and many more places all over the world. These new friends have taught me so much about the world, their cultures and ways of life. Also, I enjoy being able to help them learn about America and make them feel comfortable because for some of them, this is their first time here! I have learned a lot about the world and how we all can relate and come together to create magic.

How has Point Park prepared you for this experience?

Olivia: All of the SAEM classes have prepared me for this experience. The class that instantly comes to mind is Career Prep. I think that this class prepared me for this experience the most. I was taking this class throughout the Disney interview process, and the class was all about interviews, resumes, etc. The day of my interview with Disney, I sat down with Professor Steve Tanzilli and he gave me some great phone interviewing tips. He really eased my mind.

Ryan: Point Park has opened up many doors for me. They have given me this opportunity to do this internship and I've received much guidance from my professors and SAEM assistant to the chair, Ashley Dobransky. As an SAEM student, I went into this internship with a solid foundation on how the entertainment industry works.

Miranda: Point Park has helped me so much for this experience! During the application process, the School of Business faculty helped me prepare for my phone interview. Once I got down here, I started to network with other cast members. Without learning how to network in my SAEM classes, I would not have made any connections.

What are you career goals and how do you think your degree will help you reach them?

Ryan: I want to make money and help bring all types of arts to the community to get more people involved. To help me achieve these goals, I'm going to keep investing and working in different markets. I have learned all about the different aspects of the sports, arts and entertainment businesses like marketing, setting up and running events and shows, working with talent and the list goes on. Point Park has given me the education and experience I need to be successful.

Miranda: My career goal is to work for Disney. It's a great company to work for and I love the atmosphere down here. I am just starting my journey with the company and plan on moving my way up. I think my SAEM degree will help me so much with achieving my goal since Disney is one of the most well-known entertainment companies in the world!

Olivia: I want to work in the music industry, and the SAEM program prepares us immensely to go into that field. It's great that we have a partnership with Stage AE, so we are able to go behind the scenes and gain hands-on experience. Also, we get a lot of first-hand knowledge from the professors, and our university is in a great location. I don't think I'd be able to get this type of education anywhere else!

Final thoughts?

Miranda: Dreams really do come true! I've been dreaming about this for a while now and I still can't believe I am down here working for Disney! Don't be afraid to chase after your dreams!! Keep dreaming and believing!!!

If you're thinking about applying for the Disney College Program, DO IT! You will not regret it!

Ryan: Disney is a very successful company. Doing this internship is all what you make of it.


More About: Mars Area High School, sports, arts and entertainment management, Indian Creek High School, Rowland School of Business, Burrell High School, internships