North Island College student Amissa Funk is having the time of her life in the “most magical place on Earth.”
The 23-year old business administration student is currently working in merchandising at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., participating in NIC’s paid co-operative education program.
NIC is one of six post-secondary institutions in Canada that offers paid co-operative education opportunities with Disney International’s Academic Exchange program.
Funk, who is working in Disney’s merchandising department, is one of two NIC students taking part in the program this year. The other is tourism and hospitality management student Hiroki Asai.
“When I first decided I wanted to participate in the Disney program, it was because I was about to enter my last year of schooling and was really looking for the one thing that would set me apart from others when starting my career in the future,” she said.
The six-month co-op program is a partnership between NIC and the University of California, Riverside that began in 2009.
Business and tourism students at NIC leave in July, spend two weeks in California to begin their certificate in hospitality and tourism management (or a certificate in management) and then move on to a supervised, paid training program throughout the fall at Disney World. The students return in December.
Anita Budisa-Bonneau, the integrated work education co-ordinator for NIC, says the program provides students the opportunity to further their knowledge and work experience in fields such as strategic planning, human resources, finance, marketing, business management, tourism, retail, hospitality, or food services.
“Unfortunately, it’s very tough to get into Disney on your own,” she said. “That’s why this is so cool of an opportunity. We’re one of six institutions that are guaranteed to go. If the students fit the criteria and go through all the administrative hoops and the hiring process, they’re almost certain to get in.
“But to get in as a regular employee or come back as a Disney employee afterward is highly competitive,” she continued. “People from all over the world want to work at Disney and it’s very difficult, especially for students who are not American.”
Funk said before she took part in the Disney co-op program, she was unsure how she wanted to apply her schooling into a career.
Now, she’s a little more certain.
“Disney has shown me so much about the business and tourism world that I am now leaning more towards a career in human resources for a global company to maybe allow me to travel in the future,” she said.
NIC will hold an information session about it’s Disney co-op program on Friday, Oct. 13 at its Comox Valley campus. The information session takes place from 1–2 p.m. at Village J. Admission is free.