Career Moves: Ashlee Brackett ’22 credits the SPDC with helping realize her Disney dreams

With diligent preparation and an exquisite resume, Ashlee Brackett gained acceptance into the Disney College Program.

When Ashlee Brackett ‘22, a journalism major from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, visited Walt Disney World for a short-term Study USA program in January 2020, she learned that its magic extends beyond the parks.

While Brackett was completing research at the parks, Associate Professor of Sociology Alexis Franzese informed her about the Disney College Program, an internship opportunity where students can network and grow professionally. With a love for Disney, Brackett was immediately intrigued and decided to apply.

Brackett had already visited the Student Professional Development Center for assistance revising her resume but decided to pay another visit to the office before submitting her application to the Disney College Program. Brackett met with career advisor Kristin Walker who helped her tailor her resume to the program and prepared her for the interview.

Walker provided Brackett with insider details as she had previously completed the program. Not long after her interview, Brackett heard back and received her acceptance.

Brackett answered questions recently from the SPDC about her experience.

What were you trying to accomplish when you met with the Student Professional Development Center and what specific help did you receive?

I met with Ross Wade, senior associate director of career services for the School of Communications, for help reviewing and polishing my resume. When I began my application for Disney, I met with Wade again to tailor my resume to the job description so that I would stand out as a top candidate.

What did you learn from the experience?

I learned a lot about resume structure and order that I will be sure to apply when looking for job opportunities in the future.

How did your interest in the Disney opportunity develop?

I have always loved Disney and visiting the parks. My interest in the Disney College Program started after I heard about it during my 2020 Winter Term class, Disney: Happiest Place? The Science of Happiness.

My professor, Dr. Alexis Franzese, mentioned the program to our class and introduced us to former Elon students who participated in the program. I lived at Walt Disney World and conducted research in the parks during the course. I fell in love with the Disney environment and knew I wanted to participate in the program in the coming years.

Tell me about your experience in landing this opportunity with the Disney College Program.

The process went a lot smoother and quicker than I expected. Before starting the application, I met with multiple SPDC career advisors who provided me with advice and prepared me for everything I had to face during this process. The first step of the application was filling out basic information, including my work experiences. After that, I got an email that I had made it to the next step of completing the web-based interview. A few days later, I received an email notifying me of my acceptance.

What specific things about the company culture made an impression on you?

The cast members completing the program exceeded my expectations as a guest. I could not wait for the opportunity to be in the role myself and offer a fun experience to other guests who visit.

What did you learn about the people, the culture, and the work you will perform that made you want to pursue the Disney College Program?

The focus of my research project was to learn about the emotional regulation of cast members. Conversations and interviews made me realize that I wanted to be a part of the magic that Disney produces for guests.

Which other faculty members did you work with to prepare? What help did you receive?

I met with Ross Wade. He provided tons of help updating my resume and connecting me to Kristin Walker, associate director of employer experience and technology. Ms. Walker completed the Disney College Program previously and shared insights about the application, and explained what the experience would be.

Lastly, Paul Hvozdovic, assistant director of career services for student-athletes, was a massive help in polishing every tiny detail in my resume. He is super caring. Because of his support throughout the process, he was the first person I told when I was accepted.

What recommendations would you share with other students about the Student Professional Development Center?

Use the SPDC as much as possible for anything from resumes, cover letters, personal statements or even just brainstorming potential opportunities. They are there to help you with any questions or concerns you may have, and they usually know at least one other person who may be looking for or are in the position you want to get.