Is it the ‘Most Magical Place on Earth’ for Interns? A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Disney College Program and its Emotional Labor
Jacqueline R. Russo
Any internship for college students demands work and it may appear straightforward to gauge this in terms of energy, time, and the value of the costs associated with the job. How do we understand the full cost, whether physical and emotional, of certain internships, especially at a renowned location such as Walt Disney World? The Disney College Program (DCP) is a semester-long internship for college students and expects its interns to be “on stage” and perform tasks for the entertainment value of guests. To understand the physical and emotional impacts of the DCP, this study utilizes a cost-benefit analysis and applies the concepts of emotional labor, emotional management, and emotional regulation to this internship experience. Specifically, this research asks, “What kinds of emotional labor and regulation do DCP interns give to their job and do they interpret this experience to be worth the costs?” Through snowball sampling, participants were accessed via Facebook groups and includes those who participated in the DCP at Walt Disney World Resort from the years 2012-2019. Exploring the intersections of costs, benefits, and emotional labor, the results of this research show that there are many demands and pressures DCP interns experience. With many lifestyle, personal, academic, and career-oriented adjustments to make to participate in the DCP, interns often experienced stress, emotional dissonance, burnout, alienation, and little room for emotional flexibility. Interns can also gain customer service skills, develop relationships, and a sense of accomplishment from their involvement in the DCP. From these findings, it can be concluded that interns often utilize deep acting in order to reduce the cost of emotional labor applied to tasks, remaining “on stage” during work hours, and managing personal emotions.
Laura M. Leming
Primary Advisor's Department
Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work
Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences
"Is it the ‘Most Magical Place on Earth’ for Interns? A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Disney College Program and its Emotional Labor" (2021). Stander Symposium Projects. 2271.