A Disney Professional Internship is an amazing opportunity to learn new skills, hone your interests, and collaborate with other Disney employees and professional interns – or sometimes not so much that last one. Some offices, like mine, don’t have an extensive squad of interns, but are instead a Professional Intern party of one. Now that doesn’t mean I’m left to navigate the waters completely alone – my team actually has a ton of interns! They’re just about 2,500 miles away on the other coast, and while Disney gives us ample leeway for work-life balance, bi-coastal lunch dates aren’t quite on the schedule.
So, if you find yourself in a Professional Internship with no intern buddies on your immediate team, never fear! Here are some tips for letting you get the most out of your solo intern status:
- Take advantage of Disney Beginnings
Whether you sit right next to a small village of intern coworkers or have never seen a single one show face in your building, all Professional Interns kick off our professional internship with Disney Beginnings. This isn’t just a great way to learn about the company and your place in it – you can also think of it kind of like college orientation. Nobody knows each other yet, so even if some people are going to be immediate coworkers, everyone’s still eager to meet and mingle! During Disney Beginnings, I met an awesome group of other interns that I exchanged contact information with, so even though I usually had to roll up to scheduled intern events stag, I could always message our group chat and see if there would be any familiar faces in the crowd!
- Intern Events
Even still, it can be daunting going to events feeling like most people have a coworker companion, but this shouldn’t deter you from seeing what intern events are all about! The talented and hardworking planners that put the intern events together make sure they’re appealing and fun no matter what. So whether you want to mingle with some fresh faces while playing racing games on a vintage Nintendo 64 at the 90’s themed winter party, or are all small-talked out and want to kick back and learn some behind-the-scenes secrets of animation at the Wreck-It Ralph screening and panel, taking advantage of the events designed just for you is an amazing way to get the most out of your solo internship.
- Know your resources
Speaking of intern events, one of them will probably involve an overview of the different clubs and groups that Disney has to offer. These are for you to take advantage of! Whether you’re looking to meet people (employees and interns alike) with common interests like in yoga club, or want to be surrounded by an affinity group for something you feel strongly about, like in Women@Disney, these can be great ways to meet people and expand your network.
- Virtual Connectivity with other interns
Sometimes it’s mind-boggling to think about how much technology we have literally at our fingertips, especially facilitating communication. And despite what your parents may tell you (ad nauseam), this technology is your friend! In addition to being able to effectively partner on projects with interns on the other coast, group and one-on-one video calls have helped me feel closer to them personally and professionally. And even outside of scheduled work conversations, staying connected on social media can be a fun glimpse into intern life in a different time zone. You can also use Disney’s online directory of contact information to expand connectivity to interns you don’t know yet! You might feel like the only one, but your building, or even your floor could be bustling with other Professional Interns. A simple Rostr search of interns in your building could eventually lead to lunch plans, a meeting over coffee, or just another intern whose desk you can mosey over to from time to time.
- Don’t forget about the rest of your team!
Yes, it can be nice to have another Professional Intern to relate to and talk about internship matters with, but even if you don’t, remember that the rest of you team is there too (and a lot of them might have even been interns at some point)! Where I lacked the physical proximity to other people with my title, I built relationships with the full-timers on my team that made it easy to forget about that! For everything from mentoring me in professional endeavors, to screaming their heads off with me in Halloween haunted houses, I’m grateful to have them!
To sum it all up, your Disney Professional Internship is a time for you to gain amazingly unique work experience, figure out the nooks and crannies of the company, and learn from everything Disney’s vast network of passionate professionals have to offer – and the amount of other interns in your department certainly does not make or break it. Your internship is an opportunity to make a positive impact on the company that might have made a positive impact on you, and if you’re looking for support, companionship, or mentorship, then you’ll find that just about everywhere you turn. As Walt said, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”