Jeff Hickman has been with the Walt Disney World company for 22 years, currently working as Disney’s college and international recruitment manager. Hickman landed his dream job by working hard and networking – something that he emphasized while walking students and faculty through his journey.
Hickman attended Glassboro State College – or what we know today to be Rowan University. As a communications major, Hickman knew that he wanted to get more involved in campus activities. During his first semester, he joined Rowan Radio, where he would later work as the station’s sports director for the following three years.
Hickman credits working for Rowan Radio as one of the best decisions that he ever made.
“WGLS, or Rowan Radio, is the best thing that ever happened to me,” Hickman said. “In those four years, the self-confidence, communication skills and the leadership attributes really molded the person who I am today.”
It was these very skills that aided Hickman in his later work with Disney.
At the Walt Disney World Company, Hickman has several responsibilities, but his main job is being a college recruiter. As a leader of university relations, he touches base with over 1,500 contacts for the program.
“I’ve been a recruiter at various levels, and led quite a few teams as well,” Hickman said. “I currently have overarching leadership responsibilities for the college program, as well as our culinary program.”
He went on to share many key aspects of his journey that have helped him along the way. According to Hickman, it’s important to be positive, rise above the drama, be humble and authentic – but still show what makes you unique – and start assessing your work experience early.
“You can never start too soon, and there are ways that you can build your resume,” Hickman said. “Look for organizations and other unique opportunities that could be there now – and when we get out of this pandemic and back to some sense of normalcy. It’s just really important.”
Although Hickman stressed the importance of putting in long hours at your job, he also believes that it is important to know when to take a break.
“You’ve got to have some things going on outside of the work world that give you a work-life balance,” Hickman said. “Whatever it is – whether it’s family, a sport, a hobby or activity – do something that allows you to escape.”
The most crucial piece of advice that Hickman emphasized was the necessity of proactively seeking networking opportunities.
“When you think of networking, think of it more broadly,” he said.
Attending virtual workshops or career fairs can be a great start at connecting with others who are in the position that you one day wish to be in. According to Hickman, there are three reasons why students should consider networking:
Networking allows you to showcase your initiative.
Hickman has come across several students who have reached out to him in hopes of having a conversation, which he said is a great way to really stand out among employers.
Networking provides a chance to learn something new.
“Sometimes you seek out new information when you sit down and network with somebody, and sometimes you don’t. But you learn something new anyway,” Hickman said.
Networking not only allows you to get noticed, but also opens doors to internships and future jobs.
Hickman knew that he wanted to work in the recruitment field for the college program, and he communicated with whoever he could find that would help get him to that point.
“Networking will definitely get you noticed,” Hickman said. “It’s getting you face time, and it can definitely open jobs and open those doors for the future.”
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