December 3, 2005

'Bibbety bobbity boo':
Possible bogus interning with Disney

From Newsweek's "Disney internships draw students, criticism":

“None of them are paid properly,” Ed Chambers, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1625, said of the college interns. “They’re like indentured slaves ... They live on Disney property. They eat Disney food. They take Disney transportation.”

Seton Hill has permitted Disney to bring internship recruiters on campus several times, and I have friends that have participated in these internships. Their views are incredibly upbeat in comparison to this report's understanding.

I see both sides, and they both look a little dim. The students receive housing for a minimal fee and are paid to stay in a resort area. I see the perks...sort of.

It looks good, but it sounds like a Mickey Mouse Cult Club, with Donald holding the whip for first-time interns.

Disney is the great provider and the underlings serve and receive some minimal pay and the title of intern for something that may not even apply to their major or its requirements. And that is what gets sounds a lot like a scam.

Even with quotes like this, the holes appear in their argument.

Joanna Gonzalez, a University of Florida graduate, said serving fast food in the Magic Kingdom helped her become quick on her feet and overcome shyness.

“We’re not there to flip burgers, or to give people food. We’re there to create magic,” said Gonzalez, 23, who now works at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. “When I worked there, I opened up. The confidence it builds in you is huge.”

Confidence? How is Disney confidence any different than confidence that can come from learning skills in a professional environment that actually relate to your field of study?

The use of the word "internship" is unsettling. Why do Disney employees receive the title of "intern" for a summer scooping out garbage cans and dressing up as Goofy?

Though the article says that they learn about customer service and Disney's hospitality culture, I can't see that someone can't learn a similar thing at the Cogo's down the street. It's just packaged differently, and colleges and universities are buying it as credible intern experience for a future physician's assistants, journalists or music teachers.

"Creating magic" or "flipping burgers", whatever you call it, for a music teacher, it's not in relationship to your field.

Be wary, oh registrar's offices of the world, Mickey might pull a fast one.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at December 3, 2005 1:11 PM | TrackBack

I've always been VERY leery of these Disney people on campus. You are right on in calling it cultish. People who have experienced it get this starry-eyed gaze in their eye every time they start to talk about it. It's creepy!

I think there needs to be a further investigation into all of this.

Posted by: Mike Rubino at December 4, 2005 12:27 AM

Amanda... if SHU approves my "Disney in American Culture" course for Jan 2007, you could make your term project an investigative report on just this subject.

I envision we'll spend a week online, a week in the park, and then a week turning what we've learned into some multimedia presentation.

Think about it!

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at December 4, 2005 12:56 AM
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