What Happens If I Don’t Get An Internship?

You work your butt off in school, join all the clubs, and network until you’re blue in the face. You crush all the interviews, shake hands with all your potential bosses, and send personalized thank you notes. You wait patiently, only to hear “No.”

Sometimes things just don’t work out.

And that SUCKS.

Rejection and failure are two of my biggest fears. I hate the idea of falling short or not making the cut. These haunted me as I applied for internship after internship in my final semester of college. While I ended up applying to 30+ internships, I couldn’t stop this thought from creeping into my mind: “What if I don’t get ANY of these?”

Surely the odds had to have been in my favor, right? Maybe, but I had witnessed so many bright, smart and well-prepared peers graduate without getting anything. What was stopping that from happening to me?

When I was a senior, I was under the impression that I needed to be an intern. I wouldn’t be a marketable entry-level candidate if I didn’t have that “intern” title under my belt. While, of course, it helps, it’s by no means your only ticket to a job. We put so much emphasis on getting experience in this way, that we forget about the other ways we can gain valuable pre-full-time-job experience.

These were some of my back-up plans:

1. Jump Into The Workforce

If I wasn’t going to get experience as an intern, I was going to get it in an entry-level role. The struggle here is that you need to recognize that you probably won’t get your dream job or land a position on your dream team. That’s okay. Put the time in, build relationships, and stick your neck out. Confidence and self-advocacy is key.

2. Volunteer

Many small and local businesses are desperately looking for help. They have big dreams and cool projects – they just can’t pay. While this is obviously a major downside, it has its upsides, too. They can’t be picky. If they have someone (like yourself) who is mostly qualified for what they need that is willing to do their work unpaid, how can they say no? Of course, this isn’t the case always, but you need to go into this knowing that you have the upper-hand. Volunteering is a great option because you’ll gain valuable hands-on experience that you can put on a resume or portfolio. Having work to display shows that you can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, too.

3. Double Up

In the same vein of volunteering, small and local businesses are strapped for cash. Sometimes they can pay for a position, but only part-time. Apply for these positions anyway. If you can work it out, take on 2-3 of these at a time. You’ll keep yourself busy AND gain a lot of hands-on experience in a short period of time. It’ll also show future potential employers how great you are at time management – an important life skill.

4. Freelance

Put your skills to work. Sign up with a freelance service like UpWork, Freelancer, Fiverr, and more to start building your resume or portfolio.

5. Travel

Take a freakin’ break. Go on an adventure or try on a new place. You never know what some time away could do for you.

6. Back To School

You don’t have to get a Master’s Degree, but taking night classes or going to portfolio school will keep you sharp and show future employers your dedication to the field.

In the end, there’s no perfect path to your dream job – and each person’s story is different. Don’t focus on replicating someone else’s career. Build, craft and mold your own. The moral of the story is this: your career isn’t over if you don’t get an internship. Be patient, be positive and be prepared.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. What were your back-up plans? What did you do instead of an internship? Let me know! I’d love to hear.

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I Did It… Yay?

When I moved back to Minneapolis and caught the first glimpse of the skyline from 35W, I couldn’t stop myself from tearing up. Working downtown and living the big city life was always the goal, and I was actually doing it!

That feeling of accomplishment lasted maybe two days.

I had waited my whole life for…48 hours of satisfaction? How could that possibly be fair/normal/okay?!

I’ve achieved a lot of #lifegoals and big dreams in the last year. I graduated college, earned hands-on experience as an intern at The Walt Disney Company, and started my first big girl (full-time, salaried) job — just to name a few.

But after every surreal, satisfying, overwhelming, fulfilling, goal-reaching moment came the “huh.” The anticlimactic (dare I say, disappointing?) moment when the feeling of achievement wears off.

I. Hate. It.

It reminds me that it’s more about the journey than the destination (cliché alert!). The thing is, though, I get so caught up in the goal that I forget to enjoy the time it takes to get there. I am the kind of person who collects regret like stamps — except there’s never a return on investment with regret! When I realize how much I’ve “missed out” on, it eats away at me.

New goals help me to suppress those feelings and suddenly I find myself in the midst of a hustle again. Clearly, this is not the most healthy cycle.

But I’m working on it. I’m trying to rein in my goal-oriented personality and live in the moment for a hot second. The first step is scooting out of denial, right?

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Photo by Amy Pond

The One Reason You Should Do The Disney College Program

On the fence about applying for the Disney College Program? Here’s the one reason that will make you want to apply immediately.

What is the DCP? It’s a program that allows college students to “live, learn, and earn” at either Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort. Students gain valuable, hands-on experience by working on the front line for the Fortune 500 giant. Not only that, but the students are able to stay in company-sponsored housing, attend welcome events, and take classes on their days off.

That last part is key.

But, before I get too deep into the good stuff, it should be said that the DCP is highly competitive, and tough work. Many students work 50+ hours per week, late nights and weekends, doing labor-intensive duties. It’s not easy and the realities should not be taken lightly. Additionally, on a personal note, I participated in the DCP in 2014 and was a Professional Intern with the marketing team behind the DCP in 2016. My views do not reflect the views of The Walt Disney Company, but I am fairly well-versed in the program.

What’s the one reason you should apply for the DCP? The networking opportunities.

If one of your professional goals is to work for The Walt Disney Company, there is no better program to tee you up. Here are 6 ways to get ahead and network during the Disney College Program:

1. Classes

Following your acceptance into the program, you can choose classes to take on your days off. These are typically 1-2 hours long one day a week for a portion of your program. There are a variety of subjects — many relating to majors such as marketing, public relations, engineering, and more. A lot of them bring in local Disney employees in these fields as guest speakers. This is HUGE. Talk to them, connect with them on LinkedIn, take them out for coffee. You won’t get this kind of relationship anywhere else!

2. Leaders

Disney managers are often called “leaders” — and it takes a lot of work, time, sweat, and tears to become one. These people have often been around the Disney block and likely know more people than you’d expect. Be up-front and honest with them about your career goals from the get-go and they may be able to connect you to someone who knows someone in your desired field.

3. The Learning Center

If you land a spot on the program in Florida, take advantage of the Disney Learning Center. Not only do they have writing labs in which you can totally up your resume game, but they will work with you to understand your career goals and connect you to Disney employees within those.

4. Recruiters

Disney has a huge arsenal of recruiters, many of whom work with the DCP. They can be fantastic resources for finding connections within your field. One way I like to keep up with recruiters is Twitter. Check out all of the recruiters that I follow!

5. Rostr+

If you have a very specific role or person or department in mind, Disney’s (mostly) company-wide online employee directory is the place to go. Rostr+ stalking is totally a thing and I highly encourage you to try it out.

6. Peers

Come into the program open to making friends. You never know where your co-workers, roommates, and neighbors will end up. Treat them well, and get to know them. Add them on LinkedIn and Facebook. Walk down Main Street, U.S.A. together. They could be your ticket in some day!

While the DCP may be physically challenging and exhausting, the networking aspect can be a complete game changer for your career. As they say, “it’s a small world after all!”

Apply for the Spring 2019 season TODAY!

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How to Choose A Social Media Handle When You’ve Got A Common Name

Whether you married in or were #bornthisway, your name is basic af. The pros are there – no one ever mispronounces or misspells it, you can always find it on a kitschy keychain, a third perk that totally exists. But in this world where personal branding is king, having a common name is rough. How do you brand yourself when you can’t use your own name? Here are a few tips for choosing a unique, representative social media handle when your name is already taken.

1. Numbers and/or Symbols

Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is the oldest and most *duh* trick in the book, but that’s because it’s tried and true. Underscores and periods are great for creating the illusion of a space such as kelsey_anderson or kelsey.anderson. Numbers can start to seem tacky or lazy when there are too many, but adding one or two digits to the end of your name could do the trick. Try to pick numbers to which you can relate or even rhyme with your name like kelseyanderson3 or kelseyanderson94.

2. Initials, Middle Names, and Titles

If it’s your first name that’s giving you trouble (Emily, Sarah, etc.) try using your initials and last name like mwasowski or mapoppins. Maybe you have a unique middle name. Tacking your middle name to the end of your first can be a great way to reserve some privacy, too. If you’re a “junior” or don’t mind going by Mr., Ms. or another title – try that!

3. Nicknames

I’ll admit, I don’t have many nicknames BUT my very first email address was based on something my dad used to call me – kookykook16. If you have a nickname (that you don’t mind being referred to as on the internet), do it. If they’re unique enough, they can even serve as a conversation starter or filler in your bio. So many perks, so little time.

4. The Real Official

Feeling bold? Add a “the” or “official” before your name, or a “real” to the end. Other combinations, that TBH sound like TV show titles, like “kelseysrealworld” and “lifewithkelseyanderson” could be the ticket, too. Play around with it! These also make awesome blog titles!

5. Mash ‘Em Up

This is my ~zone~. I was sick of adding numbers, symbols, and the like to my name and my middle name is as common as they come (Ann). I had reached my wits’ end. So, I started combining my names and, after a few truly cringe-y combos, I settled on kelserson. It’s short, sweet, and all mine! Since then, it’s become a nickname and literally how I’m known on the internet.

6. Who Are You?

This one takes some serious brain power and introspection. What is a key characteristic that distinguishes you from others? These are the smileymiley’s and blondebetty’s of the world. If there’s nothing there that feels right – what is your purpose or your underlying theme or product? Is it gift baskets? Social media? Is there a particular industry with which you resonate? Maybe it’s giftsbynadine or harpersmithphotos.

7. Ask The Audience

You perceive yourself differently than those around you. Reach out to friends, family, or your current social audience for insight. Ask “What are 3 words that best describe me?” or send a few options out when you’ve narrowed them down. We get by with a little help from our friends!

None of these ideas are perfect, and you might need to combine a couple to really make some magic. Building a digital presence and a personal brand take time. Chances are, you won’t be instafamous overnight. And that’s okay! What counts is that your personal brand is, well, representative of you. That will help enable you to find your niche – your ideal audience. Because it’s out there!

What’s in a name? Quite a lot actually!

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See Ya Real Soon

“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney

I am excited to announce that I’ve accepted a Social Media Content Strategist position with Schermer, a B2B agency in Downtown Minneapolis!

This, unfortunately, means I’ll be wrapping up my internship with The Walt Disney Company a little bit sooner than planned. While I’m thrilled to be headed back to my home state, I’m so sad to be leaving the magic of Disney. I have gained so much more than experience during my time in Orlando, and I only hope the friendships I’ve made will stand the test of time. Disney will always have my heart, but I’m off to a new adventure!

It’s not goodbye, it’s “see ya real soon!”

My California Adventure

When I became a Disney cast member again last June, I promised myself I would visit Disneyland. One of the many perks of my job is self-admission to any U.S.-based Disney Park. While I visit Walt Disney World on an almost-weekly basis, I’ve only been to Disneyland twice!

My urge to visit the The Golden State deepened when I found out that my boss is based out of the state AND has an office steps away from the Walt Disney Studios lot.

I booked the flight in January, making plans to shack up with a west coast intern in February.

I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am to have met so many wonderful people or seen so many iconic and historic things during this trip. It was truly an unforgettable experience that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

Luckily, I took some video during my California adventure, so you can get a taste of the magic, too.

A Day at Walt Disney Studios

Highlights from 3 Days at Disneyland Resort

I can’t wait for my next visit!

How I Got My Job at Disney

From June 2016 to March 2017, I was a Social Media & Communications Intern on The Walt Disney Company’s Talent Acquisition Marketing team. This is the story of how my dream of doing social media for Disney came true (and how it became my dream in the first place).


In September 2013, I had just started my sophomore year of college at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. I had just switched my major from Biomedical Engineering to Biology and was feeling good – until I wasn’t. I loved the content of my courses; I found all of my classes interesting. I just wasn’t passionate about them. I struggled to see where my personality fit, and my passion lied in the professional world.

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I had learned about the Disney College Program the semester before when a family friend started posting photos from her program on social media. When I discovered Biology was more of a dead end than a new chapter, I decided to apply for the program. I had nothing to lose, and could use some time to get to know myself better. After submitting an application, passing web-based interview and doing a phone interview, I was in!

I arrived in Orlando in January 2014 to work at Walt Disney World Resort. My role was Quick Service Food & Beverage (QSFB) and I worked at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café at Disney’s Magic Kingdom and the 21st Annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

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During the program, participants can enroll in classes and seminars. For some reason, I took Exploring Marketing along with Disney Heritage. I had never once considered business or marketing as a career choice for myself until I was in that marketing seminar. A guest speaker from a different part of Disney marketing would come in each week. From Customer Managed Relationships to Advertising to Digital Marketing – I LOVED IT.

When I went back to school in September 2014, I changed my major to Strategic Communications / Journalism and added a minor in Design. I knew I was behind, but I was determined to graduate in 4 years. I had some catching up to do.

Many of my peers had already been working in the Marketing/Advertising industry for 2+ years. If I wanted to be competitive, I needed experience. I applied for a variety of on-campus marketing jobs. I landed a position as a Marketing Assistant at Student Unions & Activities because of my clear passion for the field (and eagerness to learn). I worked there until my college graduation in May 2016.

In April 2015, I became a Brand Ambassador for Periscope. I was able to network with the agency’s employees and gain valuable experience representing a large retail brand. I spent that summer handing out Target’s promotional items before Minnesota Twins games.

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In August 2015, I became a Social Media & Public Relations Intern for the 2016 Ad 2 Student Advertising Summit. I regularly posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in addition to penning bi-weekly blog posts to promote the February event.

By the time I graduated in May 2016, I was an active Advertising Club MN member, a Social Media Co-Director for the club’s student-run agency, and had almost 2 years of marketing and social media experience.

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I wanted to get back to The Walt Disney Company. I fell in love with it during my Disney College Program, and it only felt right being that it changed my life in such a profound and lasting way.

In January 2016, The Walt Disney Company’s Professional Internships began to open up. I applied for 22, and had a slightly different application & interview process for each one.

I had one initial phone screen for the general Marketing and Marketing Strategy roles. This basic phone interview took place with a recruiter, and she determined whether or not my experience and I were up-to-par with the hiring manager’s expectations. After this interview, I was “No Longer in Consideration” for a couple roles.

While I was waiting to hear back about the Marketing roles, I was asked to schedule a phone interview with a recruiter in regards to the “Social Media Content Management” internship (since then the role has changed to “Social Media & Communications“). After a relaxed chat about my experience and passions, the recruiter pushed me on to the next step.

A few days later, I scheduled my phone interview with the hiring manager. I was nervous, but prepared. They had clearly seen some potential in me, which gave me a sense of confidence.

The hiring manager and I hit it off. I made sure to take time to ask questions and learn more about the position. As much as she was interviewing me, I was interviewing her. I wanted to make sure that – if I was offered the position – it would be a good fit.

Later that week, I received a phone call from the recruiter completely out of the blue. She saw that I had applied for quite a few internships and wanted to know what my preferences and priorities were. Thankfully I had a printed list of the positions for which I had applied and was able to quickly prioritize them.

A few days later, on March 14, 2016, she called again to ask some “clarifying questions”. These questions weren’t new and very logistics-based. Things like “Would you be able to provide your own transportation to and from work?”. At the end of the call, she offered me the role!

After she offered, I had to verbally accept. She sent me the full details and a link to officially accept online the next day.

I graduated in May 2016, and started the internship on June 27, 2016. My original end date was January 2017, but I was offered a 6-month extension in August, which I happily accepted!


Have questions? Leave a comment below or contact me.

Click to learn more about my internship.

Click here to apply for the Fall 2020 Disney College Program.

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