ONU student Harry Walker earned more than just a paycheck at his last internship, he “earned his ears.”
Harry Walker, a junior biology major, from Painesville, Ohio, had a six-month internship at Walt Disney World. His job was to tend to more than 2,000 plants at Epcot’s The Land Pavilion. He grew coffee, cacao, bananas, cotton, and many other plants ranging from domestic to exotic. Crops that Walker grew ended up as dinner fare for guests in Disney restaurants, completing the cycle from garden to table. He also gave daily “Behind the Seeds” walking tours of the show greenhouses, a task which allowed him to display his extensive horticultural knowledge, as well as his people skills. His internship brought him into contact with guests from all over the world, and some a little closer to home, including visiting ONU faculty and students. “It’s a small world after all,” Walker says, “Just like the song.”
Securing the internship was quite an accomplishment. To vie for one of 13 coveted spots as an intern in the plant science program, Walker began the extensive interview process, which included recommendations, a written application, and a one-hour phone interview. He felt prepared for the exciting challenges of the internship due to his biology program at Northern, and particularly his work in the campus greenhouse. Furthermore, his membership in extracurricular activities contributed to his affability with Disney guests, a trait that helped make his position all the more fulfilling.
Walker began his internship in June, and immediately became a “cast member,” a term referring to all Disney employees. As a new employee, Walker wore a ribbon that read, “Earning my ears.” He was welcomed into the Disney family, and found its friendliness reminiscent of ONU.
Much like at Northern, Walker was challenged by his internship, but also encouraged to put his know-how to work. Rising to the challenge, he implemented several creative ideas. In the greenhouse where pumpkins are placed in special molds to form them into the recognizable Mickey Mouse face and ears shape, Walker came up with the idea to tag the plants with ribbons that said, “Earning my ears.” Guests never failed to notice his creative addition.
From his work in the Epcot greenhouses to his experience with cutting-edge plant technology, Walker feels his time at Disney really gave him a leg-up and that he will be well prepared for a future career. Along with his biology major, he also has a professional writing minor that he hopes to use to pursue a career in science communication.
Officially “earning his ears,” Walker felt his internship “was everything I wanted it to be.”
Written by Autumn Steiner, a junior from Bluffton, Ohio who is majoring in professional writing.