If her career plans work out, Kayla Simmons just might spend the rest of her life at the happiest place on earth.
Simmons spent last summer as an intern in the Disney College Program. She’s been offered a full-time job and plans to move in January. She will be working in outside vending and hopes to get on the Walt Disney Corporation’s management track soon.
For her, this is the first step in climbing the corporate ladder. A culinary arts major, baking is all she ever wanted to do.
“All the pictures of my as a child have oven mitts and an apron. I just loved being in the kitchen,” Simmons said. She found out about the Rel Maples Institute for Culinary Arts at Walters State from a career counselor. Her tuition was paid by the tnAchieves Program.
While many students participate in the internship program, few are offered
full-time positions upon graduation.
“I know a lot of people who have done an internship at Dollywood and that’s great. I wanted to do something different. I heard about the Disney Internship, so I applied. I was accepted in September 2012 and attended from January to June in 2013,” she explains.
One of the people who encouraged Simmons to pursue the internship was Joe Fall, who heads the hospitality business program at Walters State. Fall was once a Disney intern.
“Walt Disney is the premier hospitality business in the world. They do it right and they share their secrets. The internship is an incredible opportunity for our students, but having the chance to start a career working for the company gives Kayla an unbelievable start to her career,” Fall said.
Most of her working time was spent at the Electrical Umbrella, the largest quick-serve restaurant in Epcot Center.
“This was such a great learning experience. When people come to visit any part of Disney, they come from around the world. I dealt with so many customers from many countries. I also met interns from other parts of the world and was able to learn about their culture. It’s hard to get that in a classroom,” she said.
She doesn’t know much about her work at Disney, but she knows she’ll be involved in one of the corporation’s major areas – outdoor vending in the Magic Kingdom.
“I hope I can work my way up through the management program. And, of course, if a position came open, I would also love to work in one of the bakeries,” she adds.
While she’s working for Walt Disney World, she also plans to continue her education and earn a business degree.
Does she see herself spending her life in Orlando with Mickey and Minnie?
“In the back of my mind, I am still hoping to open a bakery one day. I can’t think of a better place to learn about business and keeping customers happy,” she said.