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ITC graduate and Disney alumni Shania Wheatley shares her wisdom and advice

Posted on 13/07/2023 by

We catch up with graduate and Disney alumni Shania to hear her advice for students looking to follow in her footsteps.

Shania Wheatley is an ITC graduate who moved to Auckland to study with us in 2016 and never looked back.

She landed a job in 2017 and was accepted into the Disney Exchange Program, and like many young graduates in the last few years, the pandemic threw a spanner in the works – but her positive attitude and hard work saw her come out on top.

As we lead up to this year’s Disney Exchange Program, we thought now would be a great time to catch up again and ask about her time with Disney, and if she has any advice for new students.

What was your fondest memory of ITC?

My fondest memory is sitting with the other acceptance candidates and hearing stories from those who had just come back from their Disney adventures and getting goosebumps.

What advice would you give anyone considering applying for the Disney Cultural Exchange Programme?

Don’t make your resume “picture perfect” let your personality shine through but also just do it! What have you got to lose? You have so much support from the company so why not just go for it.

What were you most nervous about before embarking on your Disney adventure?

I was most nervous about if I was going to get along with my roommate. Back when I did the program in 2017, we didn’t have the option for our own rooms so the apartment I was placed into was 3 bedroom 6 girls.

I had tried to find my roommate online and I ended up getting along with an American so we decided to room together and take that risk, to this day she is still one of my best friends! 

What were the top highlights of your Disney experience?

I think for me my top highlight was being able to make magical moments. You meet so many people, guests learn your name and come back just to say hi each month, but not only this you have the chance to really make their visits special.

I remember once I met a guest whose husband passed away a month before her visit, and it was their tradition to collect pins with Simba on them. At the time we had new Simba pins that were being released but hadn’t released yet and we were able to find one back stage and gift it to her. Safe to say she was in tears and you could tell how grateful she was for just a pin – it was so sweet! 

Did Disney change you at all? If so, how?

The Disney experience definitely changed me, I learnt to have more faith in myself, you know the “you can do it” attitude! Everyone has different paths gets different roles and you may not get your first choice but it’s the journey is what makes the whole thing memorable. 

How did your experience better prepare you for the workforce on your return?

I was a lot happier in who I was. Disney allowed a lot of self-discovery and because you could just go to the parks on days off, a sad mood never lasted long. 

It makes you put it into perspective. Like if you’re having a  bad day, it really is up to you to make things better for tomorrow! I mean sure I can’t just go back into the parks tomorrow grab a Dole Whip treat and watch the fireworks in Magic Kingdom anymore to distract myself, but I can go to the beach, go on a shopping spree or even grab a pink drink from Starbucks – so now it’s just changing how I think.

What has your career pathway been in the last 5 years?

I have been in and out of aviation in the last 5 years. It’s funny, I wanted to move away from shift work but I always just seem to come right back to it. 

Where do you see yourself in the next 5?

In the next 5 years I hope to settle down a little, heck I’ll be 30! I’m still in my 20’s so I do want to try out a few more sectors of the industry and then settle down into something I really love. I know tourism is definitely the industry for me.

Feeling inspired?

You can follow in Shania’s footsteps or forge a whole new path for yourself with ITC. We have courses enrolling right now for a July start date, so you can earn an industry-recognised qualification and graduate this summer!

Get in touch with our super friendly team to learn more about studying travel and tourism, and where it might take you.

Campus Study – 0800 TOURISM (0800 868747) or

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