My Disney Internship: The Place Where Dreams Come True and Skeptics Become Believers

 

International Public Relations intern: the dream job (minus the intern part) through most of college.

Disney: not on the radar until a dear friend urged me to look into their opportunities.

I’m at the halfway point of my Professional Internship program with Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., and what an adventure it has been. From -20F and landlocked to 100F+ and hurricanes, this state and company have turned my world nearly upside-down—actually. Admittedly, I stepped into this role with more than a drop of hesitation; I’m not an animation aficionado, character connoisseur—heck—I couldn’t differentiate Epcot from Magic Kingdom before I arrived. Three months later, I’m happy to say that (almost) everything is coming together better than I could have imagined.

As the International Public Relations Intern (only one of my kind!), I use my Spanish and Portuguese daily to connect with media and celebrities from Spanish-speaking Latin America and Brazil. My team and I plan their visits, then accompany them during their stay (hello, fun and fancy meals, riding attractions on the clock and meeting crazy cool people from my favorite countries). Beyond working across borders, I’ve participated in local media events and partook in media stunts only Disney could pull off, all the while meeting incredible local journalists and social influencers.

Aside from personal enjoyment in my work, the company as a whole has surpassed a bar I didn’t even know existed. In other words, it has exceeded my (what now seem like) piddly expectations to such an extent that I struggle to comprehend what it is that makes this company so special. If you can imagine a world where everyone knows your name and gives a passing smile and welcoming wave every time you cross paths, you have a good initial understanding of Disney’s company culture. Support, creativity, growth and making magic have become four pillars of my Disney internship experience.

I may never be a die-hard park-goer or Disney expert, but I cannot deny my change in heart about this incomparable company. A little pixy dust really does go a long way.

Un beso,

Jeni

 

 

Life Begins At The End Of Your Time Zone

“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed, is you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

It’s truly peculiar what studying abroad can do to a person: change you.  It can alter your perspective, shape your future, adjust your mindset and transform your attitude.  While I was in Brazil, I couldn’t stop thinking, “Am I a changed person yet?” and “Am I changing? Is this what changing feels like? When do I know if I’ve changed?” After all, change is nearly the expectation when studying abroad. Retrospectively, I wasn’t looking beyond the physicality of it all, the blatant palpable parts of me.  Of course, my legs weren’t going to grow any longer or my arms any shorter, but I was certain I would feel a sort of deep transformation brewing within me. At the time, all I got were crickets.

 

After two weeks of settling back into life in the United States—home—what I learned from my time in Brazil had begun unfolding and revealing itself to me piece by piece.  While I believe only those who have dared to explore the unknown, tested their limits beyond their comfort zones and braved traveling to new parts of the world will more fully understand these changes, I want to explain some of the feelings and realizations I’ve encountered since returning to The States.

 

In many ways, I feel like a child again. Studying abroad freed an incredibly raw, honest, effortless happiness within me. A feeling that seems almost foreign, unknown and new because of its long absence. I imagine it as a similar sensation to riding a bike for the first time without training wheels- pure bliss.  There is a surging giddiness that excitedly whispers, “say yes!” to new adventures because of Brazil and encourages me to explore more and worry less. I’ve made a conscious effort to become a ‘Yes Man.’

 

In other ways, I feel a million years older. Yes, I have a long journey ahead of me with plenty of time to decode all of life’s clichés, but I think studying abroad has given me a jumpstart to all of that.  The things I’ve witnessed like the incomparable Iguazu Falls or impeachment of a president, and the resulting emotions of awe and shock I’ve felt have left a mark on me in a way that promises I will never forget those experiences or encounters. I’ve discovered new meanings to life’s clichés like, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and understand why they became clichés in the first place.

 

Ultimately, studying abroad has taught me not to let a moment slip by and to appreciate everything God has blessed our world with.  Still, at home, I feel like I am seeing the charm and greatness of some places and people for the first time. I guess that’s the true beauty of going out of your time zone: your life becomes a snow globe.  You shake it up and watch as the little pieces swirl around freely before settling back to the bottom—always the same pieces swirling, never the same pattern settling.

 

I want to wholeheartedly thank Sergio, Sulia, CET and all of my friends from the program for making my adventures in Brazil memorable beyond words.

 

Until my next adventure,

Jeni

6 Tips To Keep In Mind When Competing

I’m no Miss America, no Miss Minnesota- not even Miss Congeniality, but I have gained an enormous amount of experience from my ambassador roles as Miss Waconia, a Minneapolis Aquatennial Ambassador Princess and Princess Kay of the Milky Way.  I served nearly three consecutive years advocating for communities, groups and programs in which I firmly believe beginning my senior year of high school. From these opportunities, I have gained what I believe to be invaluable insight for any hopeful young woman competing in the future, especially the dedicated dairy advocates of Minnesota that are preparing for the Leadership and Promotion Weekend (May Event). More likely than not, this will not be the first time you have heard some of these messages, however, I have chosen to share the ones that have lingered in my mind for countless hours and, ultimately, propelled me to where I am today.

You are not and will not be perfect.

Congratulations! You’re a human. In regards to interviews, welcome to the What-Did-I-Just-Say-In-There? and I-Can’t-Believe-I-Just-Said-That club. I’ve failed, forgotten and flopped on numerous occasions. Who hasn’t?  It’s obvious that no one is perfect, but too often we let our minds erase this important detail when we assess our answers, give ourselves constructive criticism, or even when we look up to role models and inspirational figures. What’s the remedy? When you leave the interview room, leave your answers there, too.  At that point, you will have already done the constructive criticism part and experienced the frustration of practicing tough questions.  Give yourself a pat on the back (literally) and know you did your best.  You don’t want your interview answers weighing down on your awesome experience.

Want the crown, envision the crown, be the crown.

This delightful piece of advice was given to me by my sister, and it’s one of my favorites.  It applies to every aspect of life- if you want it, be it and act accordingly.  Think interview: Walk into the room as the titleholder; hold yourself with the poise and elegance you imagine fits the part. Answer questions as if you’ve already been selected for the position. Think casual setting: You must remember to be your best and show your best at ALL times.  Would you want your role model to talk poorly of other contestants, make snide remarks or isolate themselves from the group?  No- act accordingly.  This is a powerful tip, but can come off really bad. For that reason, NEVER articulate this advice- Keep this one to yourself. Mental high-fives.

If it’s meant to be, it will be.

Every ounce of me believes in this priceless piece of advice. I believe that God has divinely created a plan for each and everyone of us, and said plan includes successes and try agains, tears of joy and tears of sadness, dreams fulfilled and dreams redirected. There are no failures, just moments to learn, grow and find our next steps in His intended direction. If you don’t get the job or crown, I truly believe there is something more, something better out there for you. Keep your chin high and know that you’ve got great things yet to come.

You are applying for a job, not a crown.

Everyone wants the crown, not everyone wants the job.  It’s funny how you fill out paperwork to compete… almost like a real job- Possibly the most obvious of my tips, but also the most overlooked. Do you know, understand and want the position you are applying for? Forget family tradition, friends competing and societal pressure.  What do YOU want?  While you never truly know what you are getting yourself into when applying for a job, you should have a pretty good idea. Can you handle it? Does it work with your life? Are you willing to rearrange your schedule and forego some social outings? Do you want it?  A life with rhinestones unquestionably looks glamorous and fun from an outsider’s perspective, and while it is glamorous and fun, it is also challenging, time-consuming and exhausting. Yes, you will probably have to give up some personal time. Yes, you have to be “on” a LOT. And, yes, you will not love every part of it right away (for me, it was all the driving).  If you think you can handle that and still want to be an ambassador, you will find that the sweat, sleepiness and struggles are some of the most rewarding moments you will ever experience. So, don’t think of your crown as a tiara; think of it as a sparkly name badge you wear on your head.

You did not WIN, you were SELECTED.

One of my biggest pet peeves that journalist and reporters seem to always get wrong: ambassadors did not win, they were selected.  The minor word change makes a world of a difference.  Have you heard Tim McGraw’s Humble and Kind yet? If not, take a listen. Never take for granted the opportunities you have been given, especially when it comes to competitions.  On any given day or any switch of a judge, that crown could have landed on someone else’s head. Period. Remain kind, give thanks, be humble.

You don’t need a crown and sash.

It may seem contradictory to a previous tip, but I assure you that they all work well together.  It doesn’t matter what you are competing for or what group you are representing.  What does matter is why you are doing it. I’m going to take the high road and say that every ambassador competes because they love what the program stands for and represents (or at least wants to discover more).  If this is what is in your heart, you already know this advice. The fact of the matter is nothing in life can stop us from advocating for what we believe in- not even a crown and sash.  Yes, there are perks to being selected, but if you believe in what your doing, those perks are smaller than pebbles in the ocean.  Focus and question what you truly stand for and love about what you are representing because that alone will take your further than any silky sash or rhinestoned tiara.

A special “best wishes!” to all of the young women preparing for May Event this week.  The dairy community is behind you and proud of all of your accomplishments!