Disney World is, quite literally, a place where dreams become reality. For Montevideo native Jenna Hildahl, her dreams are about to come true. From an early age, Hildahl was enamored with the arts. As a young girl she was fascinated by the colors and artwork of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Throughout school, art was a favorite course for her. After high school, Hildahl attended Concordia College where she continued to participate in theater and pursue her artistic inclinations. She also took a class in graphic design. “I tried a graphic design class at Concordia and I really enjoyed it. I thought that this was something I could possibly do as a career,” said Hildahl.
The week before she was to go back to Concordia for her junior year, Hildahl contracted mono and she decided to stay at home for the first semester. When she returned to Concordia for the second semester, Hildahl had the opportunity to participate in a college program at Disney World. The first part of her program involved working in merchandise. “I was mainly at the Christmas store in downtown Disney. It was a lot of fun,” said Hildahl. She also worked at several of the attractions at Disney World such as Mickey’s PhilharMagic, the Carousel, and the Princess Fairy Tale Hall.
Hildahl’s college program experience at Disney World and her budding interest in graphic design led her to look for a college that had a strong graphic design program. After looking at several colleges, she chose to transfer to South Dakota State University in Brookings. “Graphic design was something I kind of grew into. I always knew I wanted to do something with art as a career, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. Whatever I decided to do, I wanted to make sure it would be something I could make a living at!” laughed Hildahl. Hildahl is very happy with her experience at SDSU.
“I learned a lot. My teachers were all very good and they made sure we got as many experience opportunities as we could.” Hildahl graduated from SDSU on May 6, with a degree in graphic design. At the beginning of June, Hildahl will be returning to Disney World, this time to work as an intern in the graphic design department. Hildahl said, “I will be doing actual graphic design and I will get paid to do what I went to college for.” She will be working with survey information gathered from Disney’s guests and putting that information into info graphics and presentations.
“They wanted someone with strong illustration experience, and I am hopeful that I may get to do some of that, as well,” she said. Hildahl has also used her artistic talents to illustrate one children’s book, and will soon be working with the same author to illustrate another of his books. “I would love to be able to make a living illustrating books. Illustration is one of my favorite things to do,” she said. Her internship at Disney World will run from the beginning of June to the beginning of January of 2018. Hildahl said, “After that, I have the option to extend my internship if I want, but I would like to actually see if I can get a job working for Disney.
Hildahl isn’t pinning all her hopes on landing a permanent job with Disney. “I’m open to different opportunities,” she said. “I haven’t decided if I want to work for a giant corporation, or if I want to work for a smaller type of graphic design business.” For now, Hildahl is excited for this new opportunity to begin a new career. “I’m looking forward to doing something I love and I am glad I could find a job in my chosen career so soon after college,” she said.