The happiest place on Earth became even happier for North Idaho College student Ashley Baker.

 

Ever since Baker first heard about Disney’s hospitality internships when she was in high school, it’s stayed on her radar. Years later, when she saw a Facebook post about the internship program, she decided to apply.

 

“When I went (to Disneyland) with my class, I dreamed of working with Disney one day,” Baker said. “This is my foot in the door.”

 

Recently, Baker was invited to be a hospitality intern at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Until August of 2017, she’ll work in the food and beverage department. In addition to gaining unique on-the-job experience at a Disney resort, she is also taking classes for college credit.

 

Baker has always been drawn to the hospitality industry. She attended Kootenai Technical Education Campus, a technical high school for juniors and seniors, and completed KTEC’s “Resort Academy.” This two-year program in lodging management partners with Coeur d’Alene Resort to provide a comprehensive curriculum in the hospitality and tourism industry.

 

Upon graduation, Baker moved on to North Idaho College, where she was a cheerleader and eventually enrolled in the hospitality program. Blending classroom instruction with hands-on learning, NIC’s two-year hospitality management program prepares students for entry-level management in the hospitality industry.

 

“Hospitality is an interesting field,” said Angie White, who teaches hospitality management at NIC. “I view education as a ramp. As you climb the ladder, education helps you skip some steps.”

 

Baker’s goal is to someday manage hotels in a resort. Her internship with Disney could be a big step toward that goal.

 

White says that the average person who enrolls in a hospitality program is a “people person,” outgoing and good at working with the public. In fact, the NIC Hospitality program sees a crossover of people who have been involved in the nursing industry for much the same reason.

 

For Baker, the appeal of the hospitality industry is in helping people on an individual level—enhancing their experience through personal attention.

 

“It’s about being able to make someone’s day,” Baker said. “My favorite part of the job is seeing that my customer is happy with their service. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for them, and I’m happy to be part of that.”

 

For information on NIC’s Hospitality Management program, call (208) 769-3468 or visit www.nic.edu , click on “Instructional Programs” and then select “Hospitality Management” from the drop-down menu.

 

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