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Home » News » FSU Art BA ’15 Shawn Turk: Interning with Walt Disney Imagineering

FSU Art BA ’15 Shawn Turk: Interning with Walt Disney Imagineering

Published October 19, 2015

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

From Shawn Turk: Since enrolling in the Sculpting environments class at FSU in the spring of 2014, I have had a single career focus. Getting a job with the Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) had been a dream, but after that class I had the tools to make that dream a reality. Once I completed the Painting Environments class I was offered the opportunity to take a summer internship with WDI, which lasted three months. I resigned from my position with the State of Florida, where I worked as a business operations consultant, and took the chance of a lifetime. After a summer of learning from the Imagineers I was offered a chance to continue my internship for a maximum of nine months. For information regarding my first internship please refer to this post.

During my first internship I worked very closely with the Character Plasterers and the Character Painters, continuing my education from the Themed Environments classes at FSU. For my extension, however, I was moved me in to a new position and it is one that I enjoy very much. I now work with the Production Design team and rather than working on multiple projects I am fully dedicated to one project. Though I cannot expand upon my specific work with the project due to a confidentially agreement, I can say that it is an amazing opportunity to work on such a significant expansion to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. My work now takes on multiple roles and I have to utilize my business skills as well as my artistic talents. I work both in and out of an office environment creating drawings, constructing mockups, designing samples, putting together supporting documentation, working with vendors, managing certain project efforts, and I have even had the opportunity to art direct and lead others in the field.

My goals for my internship extension are to continue to build a network of peers that I can rely on for support and counsel, to work as hard as I can everyday and get just a little better each day, to treat each day as a brand new experience, and to eventually be hired once I complete my internship. While networking and getting hired are the goals of every intern, it is extremely important to me because of the fact that this is a lifetime dream for me. More important for me though are the remaining goals of working hard, getting better, and starting fresh each day. My mentor gave me these goals while in my first internship and I have taken them to heart. By working hard everyday I have the chance to earn the respect of my team members and demonstrate my value. By getting better each day I am admitting that there is always room for improvement and I am actually seeking it out. Finally, by starting fresh each day, it is easy to forget about the stumbling blocks of the past and move forward with a good attitude and positivity.


Tree of Life Marquee

The most difficult challenge that I have faced throughout my five plus months in Orlando is being away from my wife. In 2008, shortly after graduating from the FSU College of Business, I married my best friend and high school sweetheart. In the thirteen years of our relationship we have only ever been apart, for longer than a week, one time. Needless to say living and working in a different city than my support system has been a huge challenge. Outside of that I have faced several work related challenges. Working at WDI on a live project is a fast paced job and one that does not leave a lot of room for error or specific training. It has been a challenge to learn as I go, when I am working on many different things at once and when those things require such a broad skill set. WDI is a company that brings together art, engineering, and business under an umbrella to create the stages that millions of guests interact with yearly. We are not merely creating; we are constructing safe environments for guests.

I will graduate this semester and remain at WDI until May. After completing my internship it is my goal and my hope that I will be hired on to complete the current project and start on the next big thing! I truly believe that this is where I am supposed to be at this point in my life, and my desire to bring happiness to the world continues to grow stronger. I am an Imagineer, and at WDI we believe that happy people make the world a better place, and that is a culture that I feel proud to stand behind.