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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

A Dream that She Wished Comes True for ODU Graduate Who Lands Job at Disney World

Camille Cowin is well on the way to her happily ever after.

A lifelong love of Disney has helped lead the recent Old Dominion University M.B.A. graduate to a prestigious marketing job at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., doing relationship management with visitors to the iconic attraction. "I wake up every morning excited to go to work," Cowin said.

And her journey from Norfolk to the Magic Kingdom has been a bit of a fairy tale.

The daughter of U.S. Navy parents, Cowin lived all over the country, and developed her love of all things Disney early on. "Disney has touched everyone's life in some way," she said. "They make you laugh, cry, dream and want to be amazing. I was hooked ever since I saw 'The Little Mermaid.'"

While still in high school, Cowin hatched her plan that would lead to her eventually working for The Walt Disney Co. First, she chose a business school (Old Dominion) with a reputation for innovative, hands-on instruction, and a track record of successful business graduates.

"ODU was really an extraordinary experience for me," she said. "I met so many people and made long-lasting relationships through my courses, social activities and the organizations that I joined." Graduating magna cum laude with a B.S. in business administration in 2010, Cowin also was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Gamma Sigma, the Dean of Students' Leadership Council, the Golden Key International Honour Society and the Business Honors Student Society.

Continuing on to M.B.A. studies at ODU, Cowin acquired more tools that she would ultimately use in applying for, and getting, her dream job. "Many of the courses at ODU involved working with teams, which helped me tremendously," Cowin said. "At Disney, everyone works together to create amazing things, and we do this as a team."

By the time her school career was coming to an end, the 2011 M.B.A. graduate had set her sights squarely on Walt Disney World. But there, her story made a twist and turn. She applied for an internship she thought was the key to her dream career - and didn't get the job.

"It broke my heart," Cowin said. But she remembered the words to "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," from "Cinderella," and pressed on. "I kept telling myself that 'No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.'"

Cowin moved to Florida after graduation, to bolster her chances of getting her dream job. "My parents supported me in my decision. They knew I wanted to work for Disney and wanted to support me in any way they could, which meant even moving to Florida themselves," she said.

Once she relocated to the Sunshine State, Cowin applied for every job she could with the corporation, learning from each experience what Disney was looking for in its employees. "I kept hoping that something would work out," she said. Finally, she received a call inviting her to apply for another internship, with the post-booking team. The slipper fit.

Since late last year, Cowin has been working for Disney World as a customer managed relationship program associate, creating direct marketing communications tailored to park guests.

"This experience has put me right where I want to be, at the center of the marketing department. Every day there is something new to learn, see or do," she said.

Cowin is also inspired by her co-workers, many of whom have been working for 20 years with The Walt Disney Co. and still exude passion for their jobs. She doesn't envision her own love for the job diminishing, either.

"I can honestly say it is exactly what I expected," she said. "People here dream big and believe that anything is possible, which inspires me every day."

Now that she has a key to the Magic Kingdom, Cowin said she'll "whistle" while she works for as long as they'll let her.

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