By Kathryn Lewis
Who hasn’t dreamt of going to Disney World? Not all of us get to live out that dream, but William Angliss student Sarah Jenkins has gone a step further.
When only 15-years-old, Ms Jenkins knew Disney World was her dream job when, eight years ago, she tagged along with her sister to a William Angliss Institute open day.
“I had no idea of what I wanted to do when I was older, but I saw a sign about working at Disney World and I knew I was going to do that one day,” she said.
Sarah’s dream remained on hold while she finished high school and, after graduating in 2013, she took a year off travelling around the United States.
“I wanted to travel for the rest of my life but I equally wanted a great education,” she said.
Ms Jenkins found that education back home at the William Angliss Institute where she began studying a Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management in 2015.
From the outset, Ms Jenkins was a perfect fit for the degree, and the industry.
“I have loved gaining knowledge of the industry, networking with people in the industry and being able to apply what I have learnt to my job,” she said.
In the third year of her degree, Ms Jenkins was given the opportunity to work and live abroad at Disney World in Orlando, Florida as part of a compulsory work-integrated learning year.
“Working at Disney World for an entire year was so rewarding. It was the hardest I have ever worked physically and emotionally but I enjoyed every single second of it,” she said.
“It was the best of both worlds, improving my resume and skills during the day and watching the fireworks and riding on rollercoasters at night.”
Ms Jenkins spent her time abroad working in merchandise stores at the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort, a role she said was just right for her.
“William Angliss said we were allowed to go anywhere in the world for our placement year. I saw Disney World advertised and the criteria fitted me perfectly,” she said.
Ms Jenkins’ time abroad was a learning curve in both her academic and personal life. She said she struck the right balance between living out her dream and talking to her friends and family at home.
“I loved living abroad as I learnt so many personal and work-related skills,” she said.
“I had to manage my time and money more than I have ever had to do before which is such a valuable skill to have learned.”
Now in the fourth year of her degree, Sarah said her work at Disney World was crucial in helping her to get her current role at the Novotel Melbourne.
“I definitely believe the work-integrated learning year was most beneficial for my career… being able to talk about my experiences within my interview and successfully answering tricky interview questions landed me the job immediately,” she said.
Ms Jenkins looks after guests at the 380-room hotel on Collins St, working in reception and handling reservations.
She will walk away from 2018 with her bachelor degree, graduating at the end of the year confident that she has chosen the right career.
“The Disney program gave me the confidence and confirmation that I have chosen the right career and that I wanted to work in hotels,” she said.
As a budding traveller, Ms Jenkins said she was glad to have her foot in the door of a reputable international company.
“My goal is to travel around the world with Accor, gaining more experience and knowledge within the industry to become extremely well rounded,” she said.
“I will always be thankful to William Angliss Institute for providing me with experienced and passionate educators and I will take that passion with me wherever I go.”