*This started as the tail end of my post from last Thursday, but quickly grew into one that could stand on its own two legs. I urge you to read the post from Thursday first to fully understand where this is all coming from.*
I knew from the moment I took my first job with Disney that not all my payment for a job well done would be given to me monetarily. I was paid through smiles, hugs and the happiness of guests. However, just being a college student at the time I was okay with that as I gained all kinds of life experience. I didn’t have any mouths to feed other than my own and my bills were minimal at the time. It’s hard to watch the videos that make up MouseTrapped 2010 and hear that others felt as if the company didn’t care about them in the least. Although things have changed a bit since the contract negotiations in 2010, it’s hard to see USA Today’s data in print and realize that there are still cast members out there that are barely getting by.
My time working for Walt Disney World will always be one filled with magical moments and memorable experiences. However, I’m also a realist and when I finished college and realized I wanted to be able to obtain more…I did. I left the company and sought employment at another theme park so that I could move up into management and be able to afford my bills. It was at this second theme park I realized that although I was still not making much I could subsidize what they weren’t paying me by taking advantage of their tuition reimbursement program. During my three years with that company I earned my Masters Degree and it was almost completely paid for by the company.
It took opening my eyes to the ways of the world for me to realize that although I loved working for Walt Disney World and all that I grew up knowing it to stand for, in order to live the life I envisioned for myself I would have to find a way to get off the front lines and into management so that I could make a more reasonable pay grade. I understand that without front line employees businesses wouldn’t survive, but I also remember that Albert Einstein said insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If I went to work every day in my front line role back then and expected things to suddenly change in my financial status, without what I was doing changing, then I would have been insane.
Don’t mistake me, I do believe that $8.47 an hour for any job at Disney is an extremely low wage considering how much it costs to survive living in the areas surrounding the theme park mecca. I do agree with Examiner.com‘s post that the wages should be increased, but I would like to point out that if you truly want to find a way to achieve more then you can. It was the Lottery’s scholarship fund that paid most of my college tuition for my Bachelors Degree in Florida. It was my second theme park employer that paid almost all of my college tuition for my Masters Degree. I didn’t have the money to pay for those or any of the other schooling I obtained out of pocket, but I knew I wanted the knowledge and I found a way to make it happen because I was determined. I just don’t except “no” as an answer when I know there are options out there. I graduated twice without any student loans and it wasn’t because someone handed it all to me on a silver platter. I worked my rear off and it made me who I am today.
I know people at Disney are drawn to the company because of their love for the brand and it is often what keeps them there, but if you are one of those that want more then what you’re getting now then find a way to get it. I never thought that at 25 years old I would run a large name brand product at a rival Central Florida theme park once I decided to leave Disney. I also never thought that there was a reason I couldn’t do the afore mentioned task. I encourage you all to dream big and never stop looking for your next opportunity. My sights might always have been well outside of what everyone thought I could achieve but, looking back at all who doubted me, I can say it’s been one heck of a ride thus far. Even now I have my goals set high above where I am and I can promise you I won’t give up until I get where I know I’m destined to be.