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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

It’s a Small World After All: Knox Alumni at the Magic Kingdom

Stephanie Sorensen ’12 and Colleen Flint DiCarlo ’15

An Instagram post from Stephanie Sorensen ’12 and Colleen Flint DiCarlo ’15 showed the two practicing yoga for International Yoga Day in front of Cinderella’s Castle, not far from their Disney offices.

Later that day, at the Disney+ live performance of the new firework spectacular Harmonious, the two saw a young man wearing a Knox shirt, and Sorensen yelled “KNOX COLLEGE!?” He, coincidentally, happened to share Sorensen’s majors: econ/business and art.

DiCarlo and Sorensen are Knox legacy students: Sorensen is the 12th member of her family to attend Knox. Both are Delta Delta Delta sorority sisters, and Sorensen was DiCarlo’s “Delta big.” And both are current employees of the Walt Disney Company in Florida.

Working with the Disney Brand

Sorensen works in global business development in the corporate alliances section. Her role involves building strategic marketing partnerships with third-party companies to help grow their brands across the entire Disney portfolio of assets. This includes everything from theme parks to media networks to consumer products to Marvel Studios to National Geographic and everything else under the Disney sun. The next time you see a BabyBel retail promotion related to Walt Disney World, you can credit her team. When you visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and eat at “Woody’s Lunchbox” on a Bel cheese-inspired seat, they are showing the partnership coming to life. 

Sorensen transferred to Knox her sophomore year, after she completed the Disney College Program internship. “Interning at Disney was a great experience,” she said. “I took a creativity and innovation course that fundamentally changed how I approach problems. It was my first exposure to working with a global team and seeing the power of imagination.”

Sorensen said her job is a “dream job.” An economics major and studio art minor, she went into commercial banking after she graduated. “I ended up in Los Angeles starting Fifth Third’s Technology and Media corporate banking group, which is where I fell in love with the entertainment industry.”

As she looked to transition from finance to strategy, she decided to pursue her MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business where she studied strategy, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Sorensen had shared information about the Disney internship program with DiCarlo, who graduated from Knox with a major in economics and minors in business and management and environmental studies.

DiCarlo applied to the program prior to graduating and when accepted, worked various areas during her time as part of the “Bow Tie Crew,” working in the theme park facilitating parades. “I got to see the fireworks every night, which was really cool,” she said. Later, she participated in the professional internship program with the payroll department, which allowed her more exposure to the corporate side of Disney. She currently serves as a medical services manager for Disney Cruise Line.

“We are primarily responsible for medical operations and logistics on the five cruise ships and a private island,” she said. “It’s a lot of systems support and project management. My primary responsibility is being a problem solver.” Her main focus recently has been on implementing and updated electronic medical record systems and refining training programs.

How did their Knox education prepare them for Disney?

John Spittell’s marketing class sparked my interest in field,” said Sorensen. “I remember a project where we made up a company and developed a marketing strategy for it. My team thought of ‘Monster Cookies’ and how a marketing campaign could showcase these monsters taking over a city. I loved the freedom to dream big with no limitations and test my creativity. Now I have the opportunity to pitch crazy ideas to clients starting with, ‘imagine if …’ and potentially see them come to life, if it’s the right fit for the client’s goals and Disney’s needs.” 

For DiCarlo, the tight-knit Knox community was a bonus. “Getting to work one on one with teachers and professors at Knox prepared me for talking to leadership—it’s not an intimidating experience. I don’t have a problem going to my leaders or my leaders’ leaders and asking questions.”

“J-Pow (Jonathan Powers) was one of my favorite professors,” DiCarlo added. “My father also studied economics while at Knox, so we had some of the same professors. I liked the small community feel, which is similar in a way to Disney which has many little teams within a large company.”

DiCarlo suggests Knox students might not realize how many diverse career opportunities there are at Disney: the company includes other entertainment industries such as Hulu, ESPN, FX, and National Geographic, among others.

“Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom,” DiCarlo advised. “A lot of companies want you to be willing to work your way up. I’ve worked in guest relations, payroll, and now in the medical field.” Everywhere you go you will learn something new that you take with you—and it is okay to not always know where your career will take you next.

And Sorensen advises students to “Dream crazier. Then put the work in.

“The Knox network is your golden opportunity to learn about infinite jobs and industries,” Sorensen continued. “Do not reach out to alums and plainly ask for a job, reach out to alums to ask thoughtful questions and learn about their paths. Build relationships through connections, not transactional attitudes.”


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Printed on Sunday, April 21, 2024