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Channing Pifer '17: Bringing Disney Magic to her work at the United Way

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Posted on Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Tell us about your time following college. Three weeks after I graduated from Westminster College, I picked up everything and moved 2,000 miles away from home to Orlando, Florida. It was the scariest but most rewarding adventure I have had so far. I knew less than a handful of people living in the area so it was a fresh start. While working with The Walt Disney Company, I have made life-long friends from all over the world.

What do you (or did you) do for the Walt Disney Company and now for the United Way? I was a Character Attendant and I made magic at Epcot. Every day, I would meet hundreds of new people with a common thread…a love for Disney Magic. I have been to Disney as a guest before becoming a cast member, but to be someone that keeps the magic alive is so fulfilling. I started with United Way in April of 2020. I was looking for a career utilizing my communications degree. Disney was very flexible so my plan was to work at United Way full time and then work part time at Disney. The pandemic hit and unfortunately I was one of 28,000 cast members to be laid off in December. I am currently with Heart of Florida United Way and serve as the Outreach Coordinator with the Cybercrime Department. My focus is promoting outreach and facilitating, socially distanced, workshops to spread cyber safety.

What core values of an organization do you appreciate most? I appreciate how guest-oriented Disney is. They understand that it takes a lot to be able to visit Disney World so they want to ensure you have a great time. Whether it was a family’s first trip or 1000th trip, they make sure it’s an amazing experience. Another great part of being a cast member was that no two days were the same. I had fun every single day and I will always cherish my time with the company.

What was the magic that you took from your experience at WC to your work with the Walt Disney Co. and the United Way? I believe that the “Westminster Way” was a lot like the “Disney Way.” Everyone was extremely welcoming and went above and beyond to assist others.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned following graduation? I have learned that it can be difficult starting a career in your field, especially being so far from home. Networking is crucial to get your foot in the door. Westminster alumni look out for each other and I am grateful for that.

In your LinkedIn profile, you mention the word “courtesy, positive guest experience, and interactions” – I’m wondering what that means to you and how other alumni can learn about how to provide this in their everyday life, too. Courtesy and positive guest interactions are a few of the foundations that make Disney World unique. I believe that the small details ensure an unforgettable experience. Believing in yourself, going the extra mile, and loving what you do will lead you in the right direction.

Channing graduated with a degree in Communications from Westminster College.