Hire Education - Jordan Henry | St. Clair College
Friday, April 12, 2024
Jordan Henry

Hire Education
Hire Education is a series that showcases stories of student success through experiential learning.

Jordan Henry

Minnie, Mickey, Goofy - Jordan Henry has been working with all the big shots.

For part of his two-year Tourism - Travel program at St. Clair College, Henry spent six months living and working at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

It's the ultimate paid hands-on work experience, and St. Clair is the only college in Canada that offers it.

Recently graduated, Henry will soon return to Disney World with a job contract that likely would not have happened without his St. Clair College connections.

"It was amazing,"  said Henry, 37. "It really felt like getting spoiled because Disney takes such good care of you when you're there. And then getting to meet different people from all over the world, most of whom I'm still in touch with. Building up those connections within the company, learning to network. It really felt like working towards something. Even more than going to class, it was great to go out and get that hands-on experience and really figure out that this field is something I really am interested in and can succeed in."

The diverse Tourism-Travel program combines classroom work with practical experience to ensure students are ready to excel in all facets of the tourism industry. The wide range of job possibilities includes travel counsellor, tour operator, resort concierge, and event planner.

And Disney World isn't the only life-changing choice St. Clair offers for experiential or hands-on learning.

Previous work placements have sent students across Canada, Europe, Thailand, South Africa, Costa Rica, Australia, and India.

There are optional annual "field trips"  to destinations such as Mexico, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Graduates have the opportunity to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Travel and Tourism Management by extending the program and spending two semesters in Ireland.

One of Henry's classmates is going to Japan for a year. Other students did job placements in Alberta with the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Student Work Experience Program.

But he chose Disney.

"I've just always loved Disney," said Henry, who is embarking on a second career. "I thought there's probably not a better company to work for, to get experience in the tourism industry."

St. Clair students who do this placement spend their final two semesters as guest students at Central Michigan University, a U.S. partner in the Disney Academic Exchange.

Along with working in various paid positions at Disney, students must also take courses offered by the Disney Education Team. The courses include backstage tours and networking opportunities. Henry met voice actors and producers from The Muppets Studio.

Graduating students walk away with a St. Clair College diploma, a Central Michigan University certificate, and a certificate from Disney.

"I think it was really good for everyone who went," said Henry. "The program was really good at getting you to come out of your shell, put yourself out there and get to know people, talk a little more. You sort of just learn how to function in that high-capacity customer service industry."