Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Story Continues

It's been a wild six months.

Since My Birthday Look Back, there has been a lot going on in my life.

Not only did I graduate in December, but I was offered interviews with both of my top two companies: Disney and Microsoft. I ended up taking an internship in Client Services, Engineering with The Walt Disney Company.

I can honestly say, it's been a dream come true.

House of The Mouse

Disney has it's new hires go through something called "Traditions." There's a good bit on what that entails on the web, so I won't repeat it here. In short, it is an eight hour class on what it means to be a Disney Cast Member. More importantly, it really emphasizes our corporate mission: We Create Happiness.

My biggest concern before starting at Disney was "what if the magic goes away?" Disney has always been a big part of my life, ever since I was a small child. I didn't want to become jaded like some of my Cast Member friends. I still wanted to be able to go and enjoy the parks like I always did.

I got to ask one of the hosts of my Traditions class about that very question. I'll never forget what he said to me: The magic doesn't die. It just changes.

Now, it should be noted that this conversation was at our lunch break underneath the Magic Kingdom, sitting one table away from where Alice, Peter Pan and Wendy were having lunch.

Really. How cool is that?

The Magic: Still Got It

I'm in the last week of my internship now. I've been offered a full-time reporting position, so my time at Disney will still continue (hopefully for many, many years). One of the things that I had the privilege of doing was picking up a shift at Epcot. 

Twice a year, Disney offers park shifts to its non-park cast members. It was Walt's wish that his Imagineers eat at the Parks during the day, interacting with guests so that they not lose sight of why they were there. Other companies have done similar things in the past - executives at Circuit City would spend time in the stores. Although, to Disney's credit, i have never seen it done on this scale. 

I had a blast. It took me a bit to get back into my "guest-facing" retail mode, but once that happened, it was an amazing experience. Epcot has been my favourite park since 1982, and I really enjoyed welcoming people into my home. 

It just changes...

And that's when it hit me. The magic doesn't die, but it does change. You look at things differently. You look at how cast members interact with guests and you start saying whether it's "good show" or "bad show." You find yourself picking up that napkin on the ground because, this is MY park, and I wan't to make the best impression for the guest. You start saying "Happy Birthday" or calling little girls "Princess" even when you're not in costume, because you enjoy seeing the smile it brings. 

There's no perfect place to work. The fact that we have to work at all is, well, kindof a downer. But every time I get in the car in the morning, I think how absolutely lucky I am to be working there. I jokingly say that the worst part of my day is driving past the signs for The Magic Kingdom and not being able to go. I get a sense of pride from being part of something this special. 

You get to enjoy creating happiness. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Birthday Look Back

Birthdays are milestones, especially when they happen to fall on round numbers in our Base-10 system. So, in honor of my birthday today, I thought I'd take a look back at my life and the things I've had the privilege of doing.  


  • Ran 963.82 miles over the past seven years, including 3 Half Marathons
  • Drank coffee in Seattle, ate cheesecake in NYC, beniegh's in New Orleans, Poutine in Montreal, Cheese in Paris, and Pasta in Rome
  • Learned to play the guitar
  • Ridden a motorcycle (briefly)
  • Learned to speak French
  • Drove a Ferrari

I've been to...

  • 16 Countries
  • 6 Canadian Provinces
  • 46 US states

Places I've Seen...

  • Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower, Empire State and WTC
  • Seen Shakespeare performed in Stratford Upon Avon, England and Ontario
  • Driven Pacifc Coast Highway, A1A and cross-country three times
  • To the top of Mt. Baker in shorts
  • Driven through a giant Redwood
  • Walked down Hollywood Blvd. and Wall St.
  • Sailed up the Rhine, Thames, Seine
  • Heard Jazz in a club on Bourbon St.
  • Knocked on the door of 221B Baker St.
  • Been to Gettysburg, Ft. Sumter and The Alamo
  • Mt. Fuji, The Swiss Alpes, US Rockies and Cascades
  • Seen the gardens at Butchart Gardens, Palace of Versailles
  • Mona Lisa and Winged Victory in the Louvre, Crown Jewels in the Tower of London
  • Swam in an volcanic lake near Mt. Vesuvius
  • Parthenon, Colluseum, Tower of London, Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Cool Rides...

  • Shinkansen & TGV
  • Gone 137mph in a car
  • Hit 100 mph Legally on a Montana Highway (no daytime speed limit at the time)
  • Hovercraft over the English Channel
  • Bottom of the Grand Canyon on a mule
  • Riverboat on the Mississippi River
  • Airboat in the Everglades
  • Seen the Space Shuttle liftoff in day and night

Other Noteworthy...

  • Been to NHL games in 6 cities
  • Come face to face with an idol: Patrick Roy
  • Visited Microsoft campus for a product demo
  • Beta tested Xbox Live

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Next Stage: Part 3 - The Long List

Creating a list of possible programs is a labour of love. It is a time when all the possibilities are spread in front of you like toys on Christmas morning. Do I want to go to Harvard? Put it on the list.

At this stage anything is an option, but those options need to be pared down to  more manageable number. Certain biases are apparent in my list. I am partial to schools here in Florida, in San Francisco near two of my friends, and in my home...Canada.

There are schools that will always be on any list of mine, just because it is a dream to attend them: McGill, Stanford, Berkeley.

Without further delay (in alphabetical order):

The Long List:

This list can certainly grow. There are some which were on my initial Long List for IT/IS degrees that are not on this list, for example. But this is an excellent starting point. This will be updated as needed.