Disney World intern Michael O’Connell


Michael O’Connell, a 2013 graduate of Joliet Catholic Academy, has done something that not many people can say they have done: he spent an entire semester learning from Mickey and Minnie Mouse. “Last year, I spent the spring semester at Disney World, working as a college intern. It was an awesome experience.”

Michael is currently a sophomore at the University of Iowa, majoring in finance. “My Disney internship was tailored to my major. “ His main responsibilities had him working and associating with customers. “I learned a lot through this program. My communication skills improved greatly because I was constantly talking to and interacting with people I didn’t know. I also had a chance to network with a lot of great people, including some leaders from the Disney organization. I hope to go back to Disney for a management internship and eventually get a job with Disney.”

Michael heard about the program while he was in high school, and thought it would be fun experience when he was in college. During his freshman year of college, he received an email from the University of Iowa with more information on the Disney intern program. “I decided to apply for it, but I didn’t think I would get it my first time around.”

After submitting a written application, Michael was invited to participate in a web-based interview. “I passed that interview and moved on to a 30-minute phone interview. A lot of the questions during the phone interview were ‘What would you do in this situation?’ I flew through interview process and ultimately got the internship.”

Michael credits his experience at Joliet Catholic Academy as a big reason he got the Disney internship. “JCA prepared me to go out and get what I want. I realized that it did not matter that I was a freshman; I realized that I could get this internship if I tried hard enough. The teachers at JCA empowered me to always pursue my dreams. The best thing I learned at Joliet Catholic Academy was to focus on becoming the person I am meant to be. Just be who you are and you will meet friends who share similar interests.”

Throughout the internship, if Michael was not working or going to school, he was able to go to the Disney Park for free. “The most awesome thing is I got to live in Disney.” He quickly became friends with other college students who he worked with. “There were 10 to 12 of us. We had the same days off and always hung out together. We still keep in touch, but they are probably the thing I miss the most about the whole experience.”

Michael recently accepted a position with Disney to participate in alumni program over summer. “They only select 250 kids for this program, so I’m excited that I got in.” The program begins in late May and runs until early August. “After this summer, I’ll be finished with Disney until I graduate from college. Next summer I plan to look for an internship with a company in Chicago to make sure I have a well-rounded resume.”

Michael is looking forward to graduating from the University of Iowa in May 2017. “It feels like yesterday that I was walking the halls at JCA. Those four years went by so fast, and college is going even faster. I look forward to what lies ahead for me. I know that no matter what, I’ll be prepared for whatever comes my way.”

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