Last month I accepted a Professional Internship at the happiest place on Earth, Walt Disney World! It was a long and slightly stressful process, but it was worth it in the end. I will serve as a Conservation Education Presenter in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and I couldn’t be more excited. For many years if you asked me what my dream job would be I would immediately respond with a position at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I can remember some time ago reading about the work they were doing there and the educating they were doing, their animals sounded happy, and it seemed like they were really able to spread conservation messaging. Last fall I was able to visit for the first time and it was just as good as I had imagined it.
I received some great advice about a year and a half ago from the vice-president of animal programs for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I picked her brain about how someone would get to her kind of position and she was kind enough to share some wisdom with me. She told me to get my foot in the door any way possible whether it be volunteering or a paid position just get in there and start doing and doors will open. Several weeks later I took an education position at Sunset Zoo and the doors started to open.
Flash forward about a year to January and I was returning to Manhattan for my final semester at K-State. It was time to figure out what I would be doing after May 16. I applied to one position in January, but I wasn’t hopeful. Now I had known for several years about the professional internship program that Disney had. I knew it was competitive, I knew it was paid, and I also knew it was a large time commitment that I wasn’t sure I wanted to disrupt my course plan to do. So here I was in early February setting up my account on the Disney careers page and starting my application.
For the application I had to fill out some information, submit a resume, and a cover letter. By this point I had decided if I was going to apply I was going to go all out and do it right. I spent hours working on my application, my mom read it several times giving me comments, and I spent time with Marry Ellen Barkley from CES getting a professional opinion. By mid-February I was ready to hit send and cross my fingers.
A week later I received an email that I had passed initial screening and they wanted me to fill out a questionnaire. I was ecstatic. Soon after this I received an email with an invitation to schedule a Montage video interview. I set up my time and headed back to CES to get any help and advice I could about doing video interviews. I had my interview on February 27, and by the end of the interview it felt less question and answer and more like a conversation.
Then the waiting began. I was ready to not hear anything for well over a month. I kept myself busy, tried not to get my hopes up, and mostly didn’t share what was going on with many people. On March 9th I logged onto my account to check my status to find that I had moved out of the dreaded “In Progress” stage and into the “Post Interview” stage. I was about buzzing out of my skin. Later that day I received an email about setting up a brief phone call. I scheduled my phone call for 8:30 the next morning and proceeded to toss and turn all night.
The next morning I sat by my phone waiting for it to ring. At 8:30 on the dot it went off. I chatted briefly with an individual as I answered some questions and received some more information about the specifics of the internship. Halfway through the phone call he informed me that he could extend me an offer for the Conservation Education Presenter roll. I broke down crying at that point, he told me to just do whatever I felt like he had heard it all. After I got off this phone call I called my mother and my significant other to inform them. I walked around the rest of the day with this goofy smile on my face, it may have been several days.
I am extremely excited to start the next chapter in my journey. K-State and Sigma Alpha has been my home for many years and I will miss them both dearly. Feel free to come visit me at the Wilderness Explorers stations!
Amanda Stephens Martens