The Wildcat at Disney World

Luke Tschumperlin shares his one-of-a-kind experience in the Disney College Program.
POSE — Tschumperlin poses with two of his favorite Disney characters.
POSE — Tschumperlin poses with two of his favorite Disney characters.
Photo Courtesy of Luke Tschumperlin

Luke Tschumperlin had only been on the job for two days when Jay Ward, the Chief Creative Officer of Franchise for Pixar Animation, sat down and looked into the lens of Tschumperlin’s camera. As Tschumperlin filmed, Ward shared his story of when he first knew that he had made it at Disney.

“I’m just sitting there filming with my camera and getting emotional because I felt like I had that moment when I started this job,” Tschumperlin said. “It was insane.”

Tschumperlin is spending his last semester as a Northern student in Orlando, Florida. He says he is taking his final required class online and spending the rest of his time as a Digital Content Intern for Disney Programs. His job mostly consists of filming events and editing video content to post on Disney Programs’ social media platforms.

“I got to swim with manatees a couple of weeks ago, I got to have a GoPro in the water and everything and that was super cool,” Tschumperlin said. “And then I have the nine-to-five office job when I’m in the editing office. I got to decorate my desk with all the Northern merch.”

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Tschumperlin says he started the internship in January and has already been able to attend events across Walt Disney World and interview people from Pixar, Marvel and other Disney-owned companies. 

“Another one of those ‘pinch me’ moments that I just had was last week when we had the voice of Mickey Mouse come in,” Tschumperlin said. “Mickey Mouse is my favorite character, so that was the coolest thing ever.”

Tschumperlin says he found out about the Disney Programs professional internship after his completion of the Disney College Program in 2022. He worked as a frontline cast member and had a fantastic experience, which prompted him to look into the more professional Disney internships.

After he saw the Disney Programs Digital Content Intern position, he said knew he had to apply. The internship combined filming, working with college students and meeting people from across the Disney company, which are some of Tschumperlin’s main passions. 

“It was actually the only internship I applied for, which is pretty rare because people usually apply for a lot of them. I’ve applied for internships before my college program,” Tschumperlin said. “I applied to like 20 [before] and I never got an interview for any of them, so I wasn’t expecting anything. I kind of applied on a whim … I still had a semester left at Northern, so I wasn’t planning on leaving.”

Despite his belief that he would not get into the program, Tschumperlin said he received a request for an interview following his application. He then received a second interview, and a third. In mid-October, he got the call informing him he had been chosen for the internship and would start in January 2024. 

“Now I’m here and it’s crazy,” Tschumperlin said. “I never expected this.”

A DREAM COME TRUE — Tschumperlin shows off his new name tag that he gets to wear throughout the program. (Photo Courtesy of Luke Tschumperlin )

The hardest part of accepting the position was leaving his community behind in his last semester, he explained. But even among the tearful goodbyes, Tschumperlin knew he had to take this opportunity. 

“Leaving all of my incredibly best friends and then all of my residents and all my mentors and everyone at Northern a little earlier than expected, that was terrible,” Tschumperlin said. “It was honestly awful.”

However, Tschumperlin, who happens to live in the same apartment complex as he did during his time in the Disney College Program, added the adjustment period was relatively smooth. He still keeps in touch with his friends and family back home and has encountered more than enough new challenges to keep him busy. 

As an art and design student with a concentration in digital cinema, Tschumperlin says he has had extensive experience with short films and editing, but his internship has stretched his abilities and taught him many new skills. 

“I still have a lot to learn about social media content creation. I’ve never really done that before too much,” Tschumperlin said. “I’ve done a lot of short film work, so [the social media side] is something I’ve never done before and I’m definitely learning [about] what appeals, what works, what doesn’t work. I’m excited to add that to my skill set.” 

On top of learning about the specifics of social media content creation, Tschumperlin explained he has encountered a workload that seems never ending. After spending all day attending and filming events, he then has to edit the video, audio and pictures within tight deadlines. Sometimes, he has major all-day events back-to-back during the week, which leaves little time for editing the footage from previous events. 

“I was always used to [high workloads] in Northern, as I worked in the marketing department editing videos, but [was] also doing it for my classes,” Tschumperlin said. “But this is like that on steroids.”

Even with the learning curves, Tschumperlin says he has been enjoying the internship and hopes to extend it to the end of the year. After flying back to Marquette to walk across the stage in May, he will return to Florida and finish another six months or so of the internship. After that, Tschumperlin says he plans on exploring other opportunities within the Walt Disney Company or back at NMU. 

“Honestly, right now,” Tschumperlin said, “I’m just living in the moment, loving every second.”

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