By Sloane M. Perron, Manager of Marketing Communications
Meeting Mickey Mouse every day, vibrant living spaces, free admission to Disney, and real-world, paid work experience may seem like a fairytale but for Daniele Iaboni ‘22 from Canada and Magin Gomez ‘22 from Paraguay, it was their dream come true for six months.
During Anna Maria’s Freshman Orientation, students are welcomed to the Anna Maria Community and learn more about the educational and internship opportunities available. Orientation is not only where these two friends first met, but also where they realized that they had a shared vision to intern at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Iaboni was 13 years old, he first heard about the Disney internship program while visiting the park and knew when he came to Anna Maria that he wanted that experience.
The two friends share more than a love of Disney since they are both senior international students who are double majoring in Business and Digital Marketing.
The Disney internship is highly competitive and only accepts dedicated students with solid grades. Gomez applied first and was accepted, which raised the stakes for Iaboni when it was time to submit his internship application.
“One afternoon, I was just doing homework when I heard the ding of my email. That is when I found that I got accepted. It was a seven-year dream in making that come true,” Iaboni said.
Gomez left for Florida in October while Iaboni shortly followed in January. The classmates lived in Flamingo Crossings Village, a Disney-owned apartment complex specifically for their college interns. The complex is designed with the students in mind with a shopping plaza and restaurants nearby and free transportation to the Disney parks. While Iaboni and Gomez were not roommates, they were still able to hang out and explore the area together on their time off.
During the application process, students are asked what type of jobs they prefer, but ultimately Disney determines each student’s assignment. Iaboni worked in one of the quick vending service restaurants at Hollywood Studios where he interacted with guests from all over the world.
Meanwhile, Gomez worked as a Photo Pass Photographer at Magic Kingdom and enjoyed capturing milestone moments such as marriage proposals and family reunions. For Gomez, seeing the behind-the-scenes world of Disney opened him up to how important business culture is for creating a powerful customer experience.
“From day one you feel the values of the company. They [Disney] are always trying to be inclusive and make sure that you realize that you are the one who is really making the magic for them. So, that was pretty cool,” Gomez said, “Because at some point you realize that without a cast member, without the people working at the park, there would be no magic at all.”
During their months in Florida, the business students gained work experience in the fast-paced world of tourism, lived independently, and enjoyed their free time exploring the attractions.
“My favorite part was honestly getting to be down in Florida with Magin. Because that was something we wanted to do together and we made that happen, but also getting to play in the parks was amazing,” Iaboni said.
Ultimately, while the experience was fun, both Iaboni and Gomez are excited to apply the lessons that they learned during their internships to their future careers.
Iaboni believes that his dual degree from Anna Maria will broaden his job opportunities and make him a more competitive candidate, “I am excited about the opportunity to expand my horizons and maximize my business savvy. With Digital Marketing and Business Administration you get the best of both worlds. You can really be a complete person and a very good candidate for any position in the business world.”
Gomez, who is a naturally shy individual, believes that the internship brought him out of his shell, improved his communication skills, and helped with his problem-solving abilities. His internship was so successful that his supervisors invited him back to work at Disney!
“I am really passionate about my two majors. Right now, I am focusing on finishing my thesis, looking forward to my MBA, and from there getting a job. I am excited for the real world,” Gomez said.
Whether at Disney or at Anna Maria College, Iaboni and Gomez show that through focus, drive, and handwork, dreams really do come true.