Alumna Discovers Career Where Dreams Really Do Come True
Snorkeling along a beachside resort. Taking a three-night Disney Dream cruise. Spending a day at the spa. Drinking a flight of craft beers. Riding the latest Disney Park attractions after hours. Watching sea turtles spin underwater.
For most, these could be key elements of the best vacation ever. But for social media guru Samantha Longton ’18, it’s all in a day’s work.
“I couldn’t be more thankful to have my work seen and appreciated, and to land a job that I never thought I would be able to have, or even know how to get to,” Longton said. “It’s been incredible.”
Today, she works as a digital integration specialist for the Walt Disney Company—a dream job that she can’t imagine ever wanting to leave. She creates content, mostly short 15- to 30-second videos, for Disney Parks social media outlets, including Tiktok and Instagram. (Editor’s note: In this story, she does not speak for the brand but only from her personal experience.)
“I got to shoot with every Disney character,” she said. “I got some shots of Goofy on the beach on a private island in the Bahamas. I’m literally doing this for work. This is so cool. I have so much fun being out there capturing content and working with an amazing team of talented people. We’re all here to create happiness and magic for all of the guests.”
Her story very much reads like a fairy tale, in which the protagonist encounters a series of setbacks and obstacles but through strength of character, grit and maybe a little magic, she emerges with a happily-ever-after ending.
Magic Disguised as Hard Work
Or stated another way: Longton very deliberately laid the path to this position through her own hard work, perseverance, creativity and skill—some of which she developed as a public relations student at SUNY Oswego.
As a child, Longton always enjoyed being creative and using her very active imagination to write scripts for made-up characters. She took on a job bussing tables at age 11 to earn enough money to buy herself a flip camera. With the new tool in hand, she was able to record her stories and fake newscasts, borrowing her mom’s Macbook to edit them and share them with her family.
While taking general studies at Hudson Valley Community College in her home outside of Albany, N.Y., she worked three jobs—picking up the early shift at a restaurant, assisting at an after-school program and working nights at a retail store. At her older brother’s prompting, she squeezed in an extracurricular activity of writing for The Hudsonian newspaper. That’s when she learned how to cover a hockey game, and got hooked on the fast-paced nature of sports journalism.
Longton transferred into SUNY Oswego as a junior from Hudson Valley Community College and immediately threw herself into as many activities as she could manage. She served as a sports writer for The Oswegonian, co-hosted a hockey talk show on WNYO radio, shared her experience and advice to transfer students during Admitted Student Days, worked at Little Page Dining Hall and interned in the Athletics Department Sports Information Office.
As the Athletics Department intern, she helped launch the Lakers athletics app and grew student attendance at, and interest in athletic games. She developed strong connections to mentors Michael Bielak, former sports information director, and Malcolm Huggins, former assistant director of athletics for facilities, marketing and game management and now assistant director for annual giving. She reported game stats live throughout women’s and men’s ice hockey games and created video packages that she later posted on social media platforms.
“On hockey nights, I would have two phones going—one for recording and one for editing and getting content up for stories,” Longton said. “That experience taught me to be on my toes. I gained a lot of great experience in multitasking and working with my team.”
Throughout college, she had hoped to be accepted into the Walt Disney World College Internship Program but was denied every year. In the spring semester of her senior year, she applied one last time.
“I thought, ‘well, if I get denied again, then Disney is not for me. That isn’t my path,’” she said. “But I got accepted!”
She spent six months in Orlando learning about various operations at Disney and seeing her dream come into focus.
“I fell in love with Disney and the whole company and Orlando,” she said. “It was a whole life I couldn’t leave behind.”
Persistence and Passion Pay Off
After completing the Disney internship, she returned home to Albany, N.Y., for a month but missed her life in Orlando.
“I really found a home at Disney, and wanted to be part of that,” she said.
Longton took on a job at the Disney Call Center, where she fielded 60 calls a day and assisted guests with a broad range of issues. She learned more about the company and gained deep knowledge about many facets of the operations from parks and resorts to Disney Plus to Disney shops.
While that job paid the bills and built her knowledge of the company, she fed her passion for creating content through her personal TikTok channel.
“I’d go out to a coffee shop and make a video about what I liked about the shop, what was cool about the place,” she said. “Then my videos started to go viral–like every one of them. I went from 50 followers to about 70,000 in less than a year.”
Companies like Margarita Resorts, Discovery Cove, Marriott Resorts and several public relations firms started to hire her to make videos for their social media channels. They’d pay for her to stay at their resorts, eat the finest meals, try out the various spa treatments, lounge by the poolside and share her authentic views via TikTok and Instagram videos.
She would leave the house by 7 a.m., shoot videos, edit them and be at her Disney Call Center job by 1 p.m. She’d post the videos during her 7 p.m. break and return home to repeat the cycle after her shift ended at 10 p.m.
She also applied for other opportunities at Disney that aligned more with her passions. She had applied for maybe 30 positions and had been rejected every time. But then she found an opportunity to create content for Disney Parks social media channels. The hiring manager checked out Longton’s personal TikTok channel and knew she was the person for the job.
Longton was hired in January 2021 and has excelled in her role.
“Every day is different, which is amazing and keeps you interested in what’s next,” she said. “I love every aspect of my job, and I feel lucky to be in the position that I am in.
“I love being able to see the magic being made for our guests before they get to experience it,” she said. “I get pumped up to see the guests’ reactions. Disney is just a really fun and amazing place…it’s magical, you could say.”
You might also like
More from Alumni Profiles
Astrophysicist, Yale Professor Credits Oswego with Setting His Course for Stellar Career Earl Bellinger ’12 is one stellar guy. A quick review …
BHI Alumnus from Liberia Gains World of Experience Otis Gbala M’23 became the first SUNY Oswego graduate who studied from Liberia …
Couple’s Loyal Support for Oswego Spans Five Decades Marilynn “Lynn” Nagy Farrar ’61 and Neil Farrar cherish their memories of Oswego …