Disney, Marriott shape York College alumni’s future
Morgan Scheler has been working all kinds of hospitality jobs since high school, starting at Rita’s Italian Ice before landing a couple of server gigs through college. Her go-getter attitude and spirit of service have served her well since. You might have heard of her most recent employers: The Walt Disney Company and Marriott International.
Morgan grew up in Maryland and pursued a Business Administration major at a community college. In her sophomore year, she applied to, and was accepted into, the Disney College Program, with a focus on housekeeping in Orlando, Florida.
She heard about York College of Pennsylvania’s Hospitality Management program and transferred to YCP during her junior year. While there, she was also a Resident Advisor (RA) for first-year students, part of the Catholic Campus Ministry Newman Club, a member of the Eta Sigma Delta and Phi Sigma Pi honor societies and involved with the Campus Activities Board.
After her experience at Disney, she returned for the summer alumni program in 2018, learning the parks and attractions side of things while gaining some food and beverage experience at Magic Kingdom.
As graduation loomed, Morgan applied for, and received, another professional internship at Disney. However, one of her Hospitality Management professors–Dr. Joseph Scarcelli–encouraged her to apply for Marriott’s Voyage Program.
“The professors in my major are just insanely knowledgeable,” she says. “They have so much experience, and I wouldn’t have even known about the Marriott program if not for Dr. Scarcelli, who told me about it.”
Participants in the Voyage program can choose to learn about a variety of disciplines, from accounting and revenue management, to food and beverage, and rooms and operations. While they work at a Marriott property, they also take online classes for additional management training. They choose their top three options in their top three locations in the U.S. and abroad for placement.
A day after Morgan heard about her acceptance at Disney, she got another phone call for an interview with Marriott. Four interviews later, she was accepted into the program, which she started right after her internship with Disney ended.
“Originally, I had no idea where I wanted to go,” Morgan says. “After I got accepted for Disney, I figured I might as well stay in Orlando and be close to Disney.”
Using skills from college
Today, she’s working at The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, a Marriott property in Orlando. The program isn’t an internship; she’s a salaried manager at two restaurants on the property, and she says no one would even know she’s in the Voyage Program unless they asked.
Morgan draws on her experiences at Disney and York College while managing the two restaurants. During her internship at Disney, she worked at the service centers and housing complex for the Disney College program. She used her experience as an RA to help with roommate situations and advancing students’ careers at Disney.
“It was kind of sparked by my passion for residence life, and I loved working with students. I really, really enjoyed that,” Morgan says.
She uses that same RA training to diffuse conflict as a manager. Every day, Morgan can be found handling a variety of tasks, such as talking to guests and dealing with issues. From serving groups of 15,000 to managing customer complaints, she’s less nervous about conflict because of her background and training at York College.
“Nobody wants to deal with conflict on a day-to-day basis,” she says. “Our training helped us a lot and made it way less scary when you’re going into your first job and you’re having somebody saying, ‘Hey, this guest wants to talk to a manager, they’re really upset.’”
Morgan’s 12-month program will end in June 2020, during which she has a six-month leeway period to stay if she can’t find another job. However, she aims to travel and expand her human resources background through Marriott or another program. She hopes other York College students will take advantage of similar opportunities.
“There’s a lot of management and training programs that are out there–not just Marriott,” Morgan says. “It’s so important to look into all of those and not just put your eggs in one basket. It’s just a whole level of experience to take wherever I go.”