“You need to go work at Disney World.”

A comment like that is usually a nice thing to say – most would probably take it as a compliment. But when I was first told that I should go work for the Mouse, I was a little insulted.

A chef who I had been an unpaid intern for for about six months was kindly suggesting alternative careers, since in her mind there was no way I could succeed in the culinary industry. She provided me with an excellent letter of recommendation that would later win me a James Beard scholarship, but she tried her best to steer me away from going to Johnson & Wales, and said she was afraid that I was wasting my money.

When things didn’t work out with Johnson & Wales in Miami, I eventually found myself studying pastry at a community college in Orlando. My roommate worked for Disney and I knew he loved it, and I needed a job shortly after starting school so I said what the heck, and applied in mid-October two years ago.

What happened after that was probably the greatest blessing I’ve been given over my college career. I was shown how an employer is supposed to act, and, contrasting starkly from my internship and my first experience applying to culinary school, how ADA laws are supposed to work.

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I started at Disney in late January as a hostess for a character dining restaurant in Animal Kingdom. Not only was the guest interaction fun most of the time, but I seemed to be constantly praised for my performance and positive attitude. That was something I had never experienced before – I actually felt that I was really appreciated, not just tolerated.

The day that I was readmitted to Johnson & Wales at the Providence campus was incredibly bittersweet. Sure, I had gotten into the school of my dreams, but my days at my dream job were now numbered. Handing in my resignation was one of the hardest things ever, but I knew I was doing the right thing. I also knew that I would only be leaving temporarily – the moment I finished my degree, I knew I’d be heading back to Disney.

Since I’m a baking and pastry student, I have to complete a pastry internship before I continue on to my bachelor’s degree. I knew of the Disney Culinary Program, but I wasn’t in a hurry to leave Rhode Island to go back to the Florida heat. For the last couple of months, though, as much as I’m still in love with this incredible school, I’ve missed my Disney family. In February I sent in my application, and I got the email today that I’d been waiting for.

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It’s such a crazy coincidence that my dream school has such a strong connection with my dream job – over 1500 JWU students have worked for Disney World since the company first started recruiting.

In the last two years, I got my first job with Disney, my confidence grew by leaps and bounds, I got into my dream school, and I chose to leave my Disney family for Rhode Island. I’ve been so fortunate to accomplish some huge goals for myself, but until recently, I never imagined I could have both at once.

I’ll be hopping on a plane and working for the Mouse again in September, and I’m over the moon. I guess I’m just one of those people…

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I need to go work at Disney World.

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