Kate Ellen Dean, BS '12
Walt Disney World
I spent the summer before my junior year and fall semester of my junior year as an intern at the Walt Disney World Labor Relations Department in Orlando, Florida. At Disney, I was able to sit in on main table and side letter contract negotiations for the Service Trade Council Union (encompassing six union affiliates and around 27,000 members), observe expedited arbitrations and grievances at each step for a number of different contracts, and shadow Labor Managers as they touched base with their direct contacts in the Parks and Resorts. The other interns and I also worked closely with the Labor Relations team on projects such as drafting a WDW Fiscal Year End Report, analyzing and developing extensive contract comparisons, and creating LR training Powerpoints for area managers at multiple levels of the company. One of my favorite parts about working for Disney was conducting research to support the team during contract negotiations; the experience allowed me to better understand current social, economic and political issues within the complex framework of labor relations.
As well as the many professional and educational benefits provided by working at Walt Disney World, the six months I lived in Orlando were also characterized by an enormous amount of personal growth on my part. The internship was completely different from school in that it allowed me the time and space to cultivate some of my non-academic interests, as well as to establish meaningful relationships with the other Cornell interns, my co-workers, roommates, and my faculty advisor. The work environment at Disney was not only conducive to building these types of relationships, but almost necessitated it. My internship was a gratifying experience with regard to the caliber of the work expected of me, the elements of professionalism it exposed me to, and also in that it enabled me to meet some of the most passionate and talented people I have ever had the privilege of working with.
The credit internship program is an excellent opportunity for students to explore their interests and learn about the practical applications associated with different ILR concentrations. It is also valuable because it grants students the ability to live in and discover a new place. Once in Orlando, the other interns and I took weekend trips to Tampa, Daytona Beach, and St. Petersburg, Florida. I also wandered the city and to Winter Park relatively often…. and despite the fact that the Lake Buena Vista area is the tourist epicenter of Florida, the other interns and I were definitely able to spend a few nights relaxing and making extensive use of the pools and hot tubs on the grounds of our apartment complex. The Disney Labor Relations professional internship was a unique and completely new experience for me. I recommend it to students interested or curious about working at a large service-industry American corporation.
- Kate Ellen Dean, BS '12