NC students experience the magic of Disney World on exclusive exchange-internship program

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Two third-year NC BBAH students, Rachel Wirkkunen and Jacky Betancourt, are pictured at the 2017 Disney graduation. In 2019, four more students will participate in this unique international experiential learning opportunity.

Four NC Bachelor of Business Administration – Hospitality (BBAH) students were selected for an exclusive opportunity to advance their education at one of the most magical places on earth: Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Departing on June 28, and through a partnership between NC’s School of Hospitality and Tourism (via the Be World Ready program), and Walt Disney World Resort (via the University of Florida), students will participate in a six-month academic exchange and internship program. NC is one of only two colleges in Ontario who offer this unique exchange-internship program.

The four students, who are entering their third year of study, will complete their fall academic term courses at the University of Florida. From July to December they will complete a paid work placement at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

“Students from Niagara College’s BBAH program continue to benefit from an exclusive Ontario college relationship that enables them to participate in the University of Florida/Disney exchange,” said Damian Goulborne, associate dean of NC’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Sport. “This provides these students with the advanced knowledge they need to stand out in a completive Ontario labour market. The skills and knowledge they gain will serve their future employer after graduation, adding value to their operation and enabling our learners to stand out as leaders in the hospitality sector.”

Nicole Guinto is one of the four students selected for this prestigious opportunity. “As a hospitality student, I believe that this will set me apart from other students in the industry,” said Guinto. “Being ‘world-ready’, in my opinion, means being able to face the unknown using the skills and tools I have gained from past experiences. I also believe I will be able to meet individuals who are just as passionate in the field of hospitality. Hopefully, being able to connect with current and future industry professionals will be one of the ways that will allow me to be ‘work ready’.”“I have always wanted to participate in a semester exchange, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Annissa Giesbrecht, another student participating in the exchange. “Disney has come up numerous times throughout my studies as they offer world-renowned customer service, so to have the opportunity to be trained to deliver the Disney level of service is amazing!”

For Giesbrecht, the unique corporate experience will be a great addition to her resume. “Disney is an internationally recognized name, and visitors from all around the world come to Walt Disney World. I believe my intercultural skills will greatly improve through my experiences in this exchange, which will benefit my future endeavors.”

Sydney Nicholl shared how she found the decision of which post-secondary institution to attend daunting: two years or four years, university or college? “Thankfully I had picked my program and when narrowing my Hospitality and Tourism picks, Niagara College quickly rose to the top,” said Nicholl. “They offered a four-year Bachelor of Business Administration program, the best practical learning experience, and most importantly, a chance to learn at the greatest hospitality experience on earth – Disney World. Having a chance to participate in the University of Florida Disney academic exchange is truly my defining reason for picking Niagara College.” Mariia Povolotska, a student from Ukraine, spoke to how the experience will allow her to travel to Florida for the first time and introduce her to new people and more to help in her career path. “This cultural exchange program will offer me an opportunity to not only meet new people from around the world, but also to learn more about their foreign cultures, values, customs that I can take advantage of while travelling or while simply talking to a representative of a different cultural background,” said Povolotska. “This will be a true experience-exchange for me, making me more ‘world-ready’.”

Although Povolotska has reflected on countless goals she would like to achieve by the end of the experience, she identified three specific achievements she would like to work towards. Povolotska hopes to improve her level of Spanish by communicating with Spanish-speaking guests, meeting at least 300 new people, and connecting with staff members in supervisory and managerial levels. “I would like to ask them about their career pathways, such as what were their previous occupations and experiences were that have led them to their current positions. It would also allow me to gain other insights and tips about the career pathways and strategies that, I am sure, will definitely benefit my work-related decision in the future.”

Throughout the exchange, the four students will be posting an Instagram series called “A Day in the Life of a Disney Intern” throughout their experience, through the Be World Ready Instagram feed, @beworldready. Follow the students’ journey by clicking on the Florida icon in the highlight section located under the profile description on BWR’s Instagram page.

For more information on Be World Ready, please visit: www.beworldready.ca