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School of Business Administration

ben smith at amusement park

An Amusing Internship

Ben Smith rode a passion for amusement parks and his business major into the internship of his dreams: working "9 to 5" at Dollywood, a theme park located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Smith, a junior studying operations and supply chain management, completed an internship at Dollywood last summer. He operated attractions and rides, led VIP tours, and — as a requirement of all Dollywood interns — developed an improvement plan to deliver at the park’s intern summer showcase. Smith focused on improving the wait time system for rides and, after presenting to park leadership, his plan was selected to represent the summer 2023 class of interns.

“Benjamin was a wonderful addition to our summer internship, his work was outstanding,” said Brittney Ashley, Dollywood attractions supervisor. “His queue line project was well-rounded, informative, and perfectly presented. It received all but two votes, which is remarkable.”

Smith said the work felt natural to him since he is passionate about providing an excellent guest experience and devising attainable solutions or enhancements.

“The day of the presentation was one of the best days of my life,” Smith said. “Living and breathing this company’s motives and ideals, it just felt right. Knowing it worked out well was a moment of confirmation that this is what I want to do. Whether at Dollywood or elsewhere, I’m not working just because I want the company to do well or for the paycheck, I want to do this work because I am helping create memories worth repeating.”

Getting the internship and crafting a career path involving amusement parks took some creativity and support. According to Smith, the operations and supply chain management classes are geared toward more traditional industries, such as transportation, so he learned to apply the knowledge with the help of his professors.

“The faculty have been open and welcoming even though it isn’t the most standard application of the tools and knowledge they’re teaching,” Smith said.

Smith also credits his experience with UD’s Campus Ministry and the Marianist student communities with helping him find his way. As a sophomore, he helped direct UD’s New Beginnings retreat for first-year students, something he credits to helping grow his operations and hospitality skills while also developing a sense of identity.

“Being at UD has been such a monumental part of my life,” Smith said. “Here, my academic, faith, community, and personal growth goals align seamlessly. The intentional and committed people on campus support both my academic success and personal development, and I’m grateful for that.”

This summer, Smith will continue his amusement park career path as an operations optimization intern for Palace Entertainment in Pittsburgh.

In the words of Dolly Parton, “What a way to make a living.”

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