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Disney interns looking for bigger rewards

/ Source: CNBC

Pouring coffee, making copies, licking envelopes -- for free. That’s the way internships once were. But today, kids want more. They want promotions, they want to get paid and they want to become CEO.

As the school bell rings for the final time, the search for that all-important summer job begins. Camp counselor, flipping burgers at a fast food joint, the possibilities are endless. For the lucky that search ends at the happiest place on Earth — specifically Disney’s College and Career Start Program.

Disney has been offering high school graduates and college students summer jobs at Walt Disney World Orlando for 25 years. But this summer, as the competition from other employers heats up, the company is expanding the initiative to its flagship park in Southern California, where 400 fortunate Mouseketeers will join the program.

Whether working as a costumed character, an attraction operator or at the hotel front desk, many view Disney’s program as that crucial first step into corporate America.

“You can start off as a lifeguard and end up being a hotel manager one day, you can start off working in one of our restaurants, or you can start off operating one of our attractions in the park and your career path growth is just unfathomable,” said Disney hotel manager Dorothy Stratton.

Many refer to Disney’s program as a rite of passage. In fact, in 1977 John Lasseter worked his first job right here as a tour guide on the Jungle Cruise. Now, he is vice president of Disney's Pixar animation unit. The program gives students not only the opportunity to get paid but to also earn college credit while working center stage.

“That’s the uniqueness about the program. It’s both an earning component and a learning component,” said Disney’s director of human resources, Lorel Roehl.

Disneyland interns earn anywhere from $8.20 to $10 per hour and must commit to 30 to 40 hours per week. While the jobs may be tedious and the hours long, many hope this truly is their leap out of the jungle and their first step into corporate America.