The Walt Disney Company is known worldwide for its awe-inspiring theme parks and groundbreaking movies. But behind the castle facade and superhero fight scenes is a ton of technology that makes it all work. From Star Wars and Marvel websites to theme park apps where customers make Lightning Lane reservations, almost everything at Disney runs on a code.
Enter CODE:Rosie, a program that teaches women how to advance to technology roles within the company in just six weeks. According to Disney, the program “aims to amplify gender inclusion and diversity within technology. This program offers Walt Disney Company employees the opportunity to explore a new career path in technology without requiring prior technical experience.
Kelly White, one of CODE: Rosie’s executive sponsors, explained that the program is really about transition and career transition. “The idea is that we take talent from across our company who are in a variety of roles, put them through a full-time boot camp, and then when they finish training, they find themselves in new roles within technology,” she explains.
Where CODE:Rosie launched in 2016 with software engineering, while the latest 2022 cohort is specifically focused on training product managers. “It’s all about helping that career transition again and creating the safety net, the tools, the resources, and the education to successfully transition into a new career within weeks,” White said.
The third round of CODE:Rosie attracted hundreds of applicants and the program was only able to select 12 women to participate. Three of those attendees, referred to as Rosie’s during the program, were Mackenzie Beals (formerly DMED Events Coordinator), Brooke Healey (formerly Sports Brand Solutions Department Manager) and Clarissa Tuyn (formerly Financial Systems Analyst).
The three participants discovered the program on the Disney employee-only website and began to take a closer look at CODE: Rosie. Disney held a few information sessions where potential contestants could learn more about the program and all it entails. “It was so exciting to imagine that Disney would come up with such a cool program like this,” Tuyn said.
The product manager tech courses were all taught through General Assembly, which is a coding boot camp for those interested in tech jobs. “I think the training, the curriculum, and the real-life experience they brought to the program was extremely impactful,” Beals said. “And I’m excited to put my knowledge to good use in our new roles starting in a few weeks,” she continued.
During the program, Disney pairs each Rosie with mentors who can guide them through the six weeks and continue to coach them as they begin new roles. While the new jobs with The Walt Disney Company are exciting, learning from other women in the company has been equally rewarding for the participants.
“Just having the chance to meet these women and learn more about their experiences and to think about all the different skills they bring to the table, that maybe they’re stronger than me. We all have different experiences to share and it really broadened my knowledge base and made me think differently and pushed me in directions I hadn’t even considered before,” Healey explained.
When each cohort begins, there is always renewed enthusiasm and interest according to White. Different teams from across the company reached out to White to ask him to sponsor a cohort and have Rosie on their respective teams. In the future, the hope is to do international cohorts and to do specialized programs within the international offices.
“This program is first and foremost about action. It’s about what we can do today to impact the look of our teams and how do we think about moving forward and moving the needle in a very forward-looking way. action and impact that gets us results,” White said.