Retail’s Pathways: From Apple to Universal Orlando Resort•
This blog post was written by Opportunity Leader Jordan Leventhal, currently a theme park paramedic at Universal Resort. Jordan shares how his first job in retail provided him with the skills he needed to take on professional opportunities, and a true foundation for his employment. Click to read our report, “Retail’s Opportunity: Exploring the Industry’s Impact on People and Places.”
You never know when your moment of opportunity will present itself – mine came in a way I never would have imagined.
After earning my GED in 2007, I enrolled in Cuyahoga Community College’s Emergency Medical Technology program and graduated with my Certificate of Proficiency. I became a licensed paramedic in Ohio in 2010. Unfortunately, I learned that I was unable to get a job as a paramedic because I had too many speeding tickets on my driver’s license. I didn’t know what to do. Everything I had worked for over the last three years got put on hold.
The next week I received a call from Apple Inc. inviting me for a job interview for a position at the local Apple Store. I had applied over a year earlier hoping for a part-time job while I was finishing my paramedic training. Instead, the timing was perfect and in June 2010 I was hired on as a full-time Apple Specialist. It was a fantastic opportunity for me, helping me to learn fundamentals about sales and customer service that remain with me to this day. I worked my way up through the ranks, moving to the Genius Bar before leaving Apple to take a job as a paramedic in 2012.
After working as a paramedic for a year, I enrolled in college to earn a bachelor’s degree. I initially enrolled in a nursing program but quickly realized I liked EMS much better than nursing and changed majors to Public Relations and Marketing Communications. Part of my degree program included a requirement for an internship. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, I Googled “fun internship” and quickly learned about the internship program at Walt Disney World – the Disney College Program. I applied and was invited for a phone interview. Throughout the conversation the interviewer asked multiple questions about my experiences at Apple and what I learned there. Apple’s vision of “one-to-many,” the way one specialist works with multiple customers at one time, and the sales belief of listening to the customer’s needs before presenting them with a solution, carried over well in the interview and connected to Disney’s guest service focus.
In June 2013 I was offered an internship position in merchandising with Disney, working in a gift shop on Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom for the fall 2013 semester. I have no doubt that my initial retail experience with Apple was a significant factor in being offered this job, which I started in August 2013. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Walt Disney World, returning in the summer of 2014 for a second internship with the Disney Vacation Club at their primary sales center.
After graduating from Ursuline College in 2015, I moved to Connecticut and accepted a position in the development office of a junior boarding school but quickly realized that a desk job wasn’t the right fit for me. I wanted to get back into medicine and somehow combine it with my passion for the amusement industry. I saw an opening at Universal Orlando Resort for a theme park paramedic and immediately applied. During my interview, my experiences at Apple and Walt Disney World were constantly talked about. Working for two companies with a major emphasis on the guest experience, in addition to the efficiency I learned from working in busy retail environments, gave me a unique depth of stories to share.
It’s obvious that my retail foundations were a cornerstone to setting me on my current career path. I never imagined I’d be where I am today. Seizing opportunities has opened doors every step of the way!