When Your Internship Supervisor is a Giant Mouse: IT Grads Gain Experience in Disney World

Max Kattermann ‘24 (left) and Jason Matthew Rodriguez ‘24

Max Kattermann ‘24 and Jason Matthew Rodriguez ‘24, information technology majors at William Paterson University, both met the requirements for their degrees in January. With another semester to go until they’d attend Commencement, they decided to add some experience to their resumés in an unconventional way: with the Disney College internship program.

Through that program, current or newly graduated college students live just outside the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. They select an educational focus tied to the business of the Disney parks and resorts—such as marketing, event operations, or leadership, among others—and participate in courses, on-site seminars, discussions, and/or exclusive tours tied to their areas of interest.

To cover the cost of their tuition and residence, and earn a modest paycheck, participants work in front-line roles at Disney parks or resorts during their internships. 

Kattermann, who is considering a career in network engineering after Commencement, has spent his internship with the Disney Emergency Amateur Radio Service (DEARS), a voluntary organization comprised of federally licensed amateur radio operators who are current and former employees of the Walt Disney Company and its affiliates. Through the internship, he has participated in many behind-the-scenes tours to further his understanding of the parks’ telecommunications and wireless networks.

The “team-oriented problem solving” Kattermann honed as a student manager of the University’s IT Help Desk has been very valuable during the internship, he says.

“My hope is that this experience may provide insight into a different field within information technology that can positively sway the outcome of my career,” Kattermann adds.

A swimmer in his spare time, outside of his internship hours, he is working as a lifeguard at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club. 

Rodriguez, who is considering a career in the tech industry after turning his Commencement tassel, is busy completing professional certifications in IT during his time in Florida. A Disney College program coordinator who worked as an IT systems administrator for years has become his mentor, providing advice about which certifications to pursue. 

“So far, this program has been great – learning the behind-the-scenes magic that runs the parks as well as meeting likeminded individuals pursuing their goals,” Rodriguez says.

He is currently making a concerted effort to network with Disney employees and is becoming more interested in growing his career with the company. “If I am able to advance my career working for Disney, I would be glad to take that opportunity,” he explains.

For the employment side of his internship experience, Rodriguez is tapping the customer service skills he honed as a tech assistant for WP’s IT Help Desk as a member of the facilities team in Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park.