Wichita State graduate Vanessa Buehne got hands-on experience as an intern while she was a student. Now she works for Disney.
Photo: Courtesy
Internship program prepared Buehne for Disney job
Feb 7, 2012 9:30 AM | Print

As a student at Wichita State University, Vanessa Buehne could see herself as a sports expo coordinator. Buehne, a 2010 WSU graduate, prepared herself through an internship while at WSU. She never imagined supervising for a theme park such as Disney.

Today's Disney is not just classic amusement park attractions and fairy dust. runDisney is a new branch formed a year ago at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

"We are the brand that establishes all of the marathons and half marathons here at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and also Disneyland in California," Buehne said.

At runDisney, sports fans are offered their choice of competitive and non-competitive running. Contestants enjoy the park scenery as Disney characters offer encouragement. Music and costumes are used in most of the family races.

For something a little more serious, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex associated with runDisney in Orlando allows athletes the option to play, train and compete. ESPN'S facility includes more than 200 acres of key sport venues for basketball, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball, volleyball, dance competitions and much more.

Besides many events and organizations associated with the complex, it's also the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.

Hands-on experience

Before Buehne got this position, she completed her required student internship at Disney Sports in Orlando through Wichita State. Buehne started in July 2009.

Clay Stoldt, professor and chair of sport management with WSU's Sport Management program, said Buehne needed to complete a graduate internship of 12 credits and 640 hours on the job in a sport management setting.

"Besides giving her the opportunity to apply the things she learned in our classes," said Stoldt, "she defined how Disney conducts business, what they expect of their employees and their philosophy of customer relationship management."

Buehne said the biggest advantage to her required student internship was the hands-on experience.

"Going into the workplace and applying what I learned in school toward my degree; you just can't beat it," she said.

Stoldt says WSU enjoys a lot of success with Disney.

"Certainly the quality of the students is at the top of the list," said Dwight Dorr, manager premium and special events of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. "I also like knowing the staff of Wichita State has taken a personal interest in following up with me, checking on the performance of their interns."

Stoldt said the nearly 20 WSU students who completed their internships through Disney are grateful for their positions within the company.

Establishing credibility

As a runDisney expo coordinator, Buehne says she could not have done it without the help from Wichita State University.

"The exposure was great, and I thank WSU and Clay Stoldt 100 percent," she said. "I would have never known about the Disney internship program if I decided not to attend Wichita State."

Stoldt said Buehne received exceptional evaluations as an intern.

"She clearly established her credibility with the organization during that time," he said.

"I'm more of a visual learner," she said. "I must see it and do it myself than just read about it, so I think it's very important and valuable in starting your career."

"It's a great experience being able to come to this big company, big organization at runDisney," said Buehne. "To actually connect among a lot of people and work hands on with them is a great experience. I definitely attribute that involvement to my position where I am now."

Created on Feb 7, 2012 9:30 AM; Last modified on Feb 27, 2012 4:27 PM
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