Hospitality Management with a specialization in Theme Park ManagementDegree(s) earned at UCF and year degree(s) was/were conferred
Hospitality Management with a specialization in Theme Park Management (2013)Employer
Disney Cruise Line/Adventures by Disney (Celebration, FL)What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
Business Systems Support Analyst supporting the Disney Cruise Line/Adventures by Disney Contact Center operations supporting reporting initiatives for both lines of business, and the testing and implementation of new systems to improve efficiencies and to support new business initiatives.In what ways are you involved in the community outside of work?
In 2007, I co-founded a not-for-profit limited liability corporation known as WDWCelebrations LLC. This organization hosts annual events at the Walt Disney World Resort, bringing like-minded Disney fans together to celebrate the magic of the past, present, and future of the Disney Parks & Resorts while raising money for charitable causes via the event’s Charity Initiative. Twelve events over the past nine years have supported charitable entities including the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and most recently, Give Kids the World. As one of the organization’s core team members, I manage the LLC’s social media presence, sponsor relations, and assist with event operations during each annual event.Did you work full or part time as a UCF student? How do you think this helped you when you were seeking a permanent position?
As a student of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, it was required that I complete three paid part-time internships while in school. This enables students to learn time management skills necessary in the full-time workplace, in addition to providing a competitive edge against students that do not work during the course of their education. My final semester at UCF was spent primarily working full time in a Professional Internship with the Disney Institute, an opportunity that provided me with great work experience and directly connected me to contacts within Disney Cruise Line, which led to my being hired into a full time position almost immediately after graduation.What was your major? How did you determine your major? Did you change majors while at UCF?
Hospitality Management with a specialization in Theme Park Management. As a born and raised Orlando native, I grew up with the hospitality industry as the lifeblood of my hometown (as it still is). I was fortunate enough to travel around the world during my four years of high school as a member of the Dr. Phillips High School Center for International Studies program. With this program, I was able to participate in short term study abroad opportunities in Spain, England, Ireland, France, Italy, and Japan. I was also given the opportunity to host a Japanese student in our home for two weeks. It was through these experiences that I was exposed to the more global culture of hospitality that I fell in love with. Combined with my passion for the local theme parks that I had grown up with, I found the prospect of going to a school where working within the industry was promoted while education was supplemented by the real world experience of the professors leading the intimate classes available to students at the Rosen campus. I have always loved Orlando and it is my life goal to continually give back to this community through my career, and eventually hoping to teach at the Rosen College myself—I saw those possibilities at UCF before I ever started at the school, and those possibilities still drive my interests today.Are you working in the field of industry/business you thought you would? Is your career what you expected it would be? How is it different? How is it similar to what you expected?
While my focus in college was to end up working in the theme park industry (a subset of the larger hospitality industry), my career path out of college led me towards Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney. Disney Cruise Line is, in many ways, similar to a theme park operation as it requires a contact center, website, reservations/booking platforms, lodging, food & beverage operations, vendor agreements, safety regulations, recreation, attractions, entertainment, creative development, and logistics. Adventures by Disney, Disney’s guided travel branch of the company, also employs a contact center, website, a reservation/booking platform, lodging agreements, transportation, food & beverage partnerships, vendor agreements, and operations & logistics. Both lines of business are rooted in hospitality, and parallel the processes and culture found in the Disney Parks and Resorts theme parks and attractions throughout the world—it is in this way that my current role aligns with my original college interests.What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Strive to take the different path. I feared in college that by taking the less conventional internships and varying roles with different companies that I would not be able to compete with professional candidates who had worked their way up with a single company in a vertical path. As I graduated and was hired at Disney Cruise Line, it was proven that it was very much my varying work experience that set me apart from other candidates.What was the best advice you received from someone at UCF? Who gave you the advice?
Trust that things will work out in the way they are supposed to. As long as you put 110% into whatever you commit to and keep your interpersonal relationships active, the right opportunities (not necessarily the expected opportunities, but the right ones) will present themselves at the right time. Associate Professor Dr. Duncan Dickson.Did you participate in co-curricular activities, like undergraduate research? An internship? A fraternity or sorority? A club or organization? Student Government Association? What did you learn?
In addition to my involvement in WDWCelebrations LLC which I co-founded in 2007, I was an active member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity’s UCF chapter. I was extremely involved in this organization, serving over four years as the Alumni Chair, Judicial Board Chair, Family Weekend Chair, and chapter Scribe on the Executive Board. It was through this organization that I gained a greater sense of time management, juggling commitments between school, work, WDWCelebrations, and my fraternity.