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WDW internships: better than magic

Photo of Katie Leinenbach at WDW
Katie Leinenbach (l) & friend at WDW
Photo of Abby Trusler & WDW interns
Abby Trusler (front left), Christina Lewark (front center) & fellow WDW interns in the Feature Animation Office Building
Three Purdue IE students found more than “endless magic” at Walt Disney World (WDW) during the fall semester of 2016.

Katie Leinenbach, a junior in IE, interned in the Workforce Management department from August to December of 2016. As a Workforce Management Labor Analyst Intern, Katie worked on multiple projects.

“My biggest and longest project involved helping improve the process operational leaders go through when requesting a change to their area’s workload,” she said. “With this project, I was able to present my work to my department at Walt Disney World and to a leader out in Disneyland.”

Katie’s grateful to have practical experience to apply in her classes, personal examples she can reference for projects, and improved presentation skills.

Abby Trusler, an IE junior, interned during the same semester in the Global Sales and Marketing Group in WDW’s Industrial Engineering department. This group manages projects for the Resorts, Transportation, Waterparks, and Call Centers.

Abby learned how to quickly analyze and visualize data in Excel using tools like pivot tables and VLOOKUP. As a result of her internship, she now knows that she wants to have a career outside of a traditional IE manufacturing environment.

Senior Christina Lewark also worked in the Industrial Engineering department with Abby, but on the Line of Business Team. "Working for the Walt Disney Company was a very educational and valuable internship experience," she said.

The three students grew through their internship experiences. Katie says she learned to navigate the approval process in a large company. “Because the Walt Disney Company is a large organization spanning over three continents, the work I did had to go through many channels,” she explained. “After I completed my main project, I had to wait for it to be approved in my department in Florida before I [could] present it to the leader in Anaheim. After making adjustments based on those conversations, I was able to move forward with the implementation of my project.”

Abby enjoyed being able to “own” multiple projects from start to finish. “Owning a project as an intern includes scoping out the problem, conducting a study to collect data, analyzing the results of that study, creating a deck that accurately depicts the results, and presenting the solution to the client group,” she said. “I was able to develop the skill of project scoping from start to finish - a valuable resource that I will be able apply in class group projects as well as in future work settings.”

Christina confirmed the importance of real-world work experience. "We had the opportunity work on complex systems and assist clients in multiple areas of the business," she said.

All three students value their experiences at Disney, and encourage other students to apply for internships.

“Do your homework,” advised Katie. “This interview is as much them interviewing you as you interviewing them. Understand the company – don’t just read the highlights of the company’s business. Go on the company’s website and look at their executives, the mission statement, the company’s values, anything that will show you have done your research. Just make sure to use that information in your application and interview.”

In spite of her initial hesitation about taking a semester off from school, Abby felt the internship was really worth it. “I was nervous that I would miss out on too many things happening on campus,” she said. “Looking back, interning at Disney was one of the best experiences of my life and I would not trade it for anything.”

“The magic is endless” at Walt Disney World – and Purdue IE undergraduate interns are getting real-world experience there.

Writer: DeEtte Starr,