Meet Ryan, an Animal Caretaker at Animal Kingdom Lodge, who grew up in Illinois and attended SIU-Carbondale. He was my tour guide for a backstage experience at the Lodge. I learned his story and he agreed I could share it here.
Ryan always loved animals and studied Biology in college. He applied for the Disney College internship program and was excited to be placed in Animal Kingdom. That is, until he discovered that he was assigned to sell t-shirts (wearing what looked a lot like a skirt). Still, to get his foot in the door, he worked there for 8 months doing all he could to learn and succeed.
After graduation, Ryan used the internship to secure a full-time role. Again, it wasn’t his first choice. He worked in the nutrition department and helped a team of six prepare 5000 meals a day for animals in his department. Again, however, this job didn’t involve interacting with animals. He knew the work mattered, though, and that he was one step closer to his goal.
Only after showing how dedicated he was, and waiting for the right opportunity, was Ryan able to move into a position taking care of animals. Today he gets to work directly with Okapi, Giraffe, and other species, which is a dream come true. On the tour it was clear that he loves his job. And he earned it. He never gave up, and he took each opportunity as it came, always doing his best work. Ryan is a great role model for all college students! He understands that patience and hard work are key to moving toward your dream job.