Interning at Disney World sounds like a dream come true – but Chng Yong Qing says that there is more to working in paradise than meets the eye.
In April this year, the 19-year-old Singapore student from Nanyang Polytechnic’s diploma in hospitality and tourism management programme journeyed to Orlando, Florida, USA for a five-month internship attachment at Walt Disney World.
Chng had secured the internship after passing face-to-face interviews conducted by Disney in Singapore, as part of a study and work programme for selected students.
While she was in Florida, Chng signed up for a Disney course and a separate college programme which cost her more than S$7,000 (US$5,048) in total. This meant she had to budget for a total of S$12,000 to pay for everything including visa fees, flight tickets and other costs.
Nanyang Polytechnic – which runs assistance programmes to help students wishing to complete their attachments overseas – provided a substantial subsidy for Chng to attend the Disney World internship. On top of that, Disney also provided a US$350 weekly allowance during her 22-week stint at the park that came up to US$7,700 in total.
At Disney World, she had the opportunity to try her hand at two different roles – one required that she work at the park’s fast food restaurants and the other was to man the theme park’s attractions.
Chng said that she learnt invaluable lessons through interning at the park: “I learnt the importance of always being on the lookout for guests needs, working hard to ensure that guests are happy and maintaining a positive mindset during service hours.”
She decided to film a series of vlogs during her internship stint. Chng revealed that at Casey’s Corner, the restaurant she worked at, the kitchens were so busy that she barely had time to catch her breath.
“For the past few months, I’ve been working night shifts, only reaching home at 3am. Sometimes, I even had to wake up at 6am the next day,” she said.
She added: “Although it can be very busy at times, what keeps me going is knowing that I made a guest’s day or watching young kids genuinely believe that the princess or characters are real.”
After signing up for that separate US college programme, Chng juggled work and tight deadlines, internship reports and Disney’s courses.
She said: “I would ask myself if all of this was worth it sometimes at night. But I’ve come so far. I’m not ready to give up yet.”
Chng submitted four of her video journals to Asiahospitalitycareers.com’s inaugural overseas internship video contest.
She won it and was awarded the grand prize of S$1,000.
While life as a Disney intern was tougher than expected, Chng told Business Insider: “Being able to witness first-hand how Disney cast members take service to the next level and ensure that guests are always taken care of at the happiest place on earth, are life lessons that I will carry with for the rest of my life.”
This article has been edited for clarity.