How to Go to Disneyland for a Living
Introducing How to Make It, Clover's career column. Here, some of the smartest, coolest, and most successful women we know share career tips, life advice, and other invaluable wisdom they've learned along the way.
Carlye Wisel is a self-described "professional kidult who writes about Walt Disney World and weird womanhood" for a living. "From attending Mermaid School to boarding a week-long Zumba Cruise to deep-diving on the forthcoming Star Wars Land, I’m down for anything that seems silly and out of the ordinary, or happens within the gates of a theme park," she explains. Just before she headed to China for the grand opening of Shanghai Disneyland (casual!), Caryle dropped some of the most magical career advice on Earth. Read it below.
What were you like as a teen?
I was always a bit left of center, but went to a massive high school where I was able to find a gaggle of loud, goofy, musical theatre-trained kids I’m still close with to this day. I was deeply and obsessively boy-crazy; my basis for finding my voice didn’t come from curling up in the library on weekends, it came from spending all night chatting with my crushes on the family computer. (We used to have to share devices, it was nightmarish AF.) I danced, I played upright bass, I joined every club that would have me as a member because I wanted my yearbook presence to be lit—which, if you think about it, was basically OG social media.
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
Being different is the exact thing that will make you so successful. I used to think not having the same sense of humor or interests as my flaxen-haired, perfectly-dressed peers was a to-do list of what I needed to change. It took me so long—until the last year or two!—to understand what being myself truly meant. Everything I read, watched, liked, ate and enjoyed back then is so deeply ingrained into who I am today. I’ve always loved the carefree joy that comes from rides and attractions and other so-called "kid stuff," and dipping back into the world of theme parks as an adult has only reinforced that. It’s crazy to think, but you really can't change who you are at your core, and leaning into it is more beneficial than trying to re-mold it. I am that same carnival food-obsessed, joy-seeking, waterpark-loving wide-eyed kid; only now, I get paid to do it!
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
I graduated into the workforce at a time when companies were just embracing digital—not even apps, we’re talking websites—so by default, I spent years being the go-to girl for everything from coding e-mail newsletters for record labels to running social media accounts for video platforms. I rode that music editorial wave for years until I eventually craved a life that would allow me to be more personally creative, and dove into freelance writing full-time about four years back. Working for yourself can be a big mix of stress and exhilaration, and while I was reluctant to leave the music industry, I’m so glad I did, because this Disney thing has energized me more than any job I've ever had before. As someone who's crammed a zillion careers into her short professional life, I will say this—it takes a lot of writing, pitching, and kindly asking for introductions to make it happen, but hard work and an appreciation for every opportunity that comes your way never, ever goes unnoticed.
What's one thing you wish had known then that you know now about having a career?
The sooner you embrace that you have no idea what you’ll wind up being, the sooner you’ll be successful. It's really not about finding which job you’ll like that's important; it's discovering what exactly it is that you like to do and building your own path from there. As a freelance writer, I now change my focus practically every year as I’m always in search of covering what I enjoy most at that given moment. I hadn't even been to Disney World as an adult until last year; now, writing about it is my main source of income. I never would have gotten to where I am—visiting areas of Epcot before they open to the public or riding Space Mountain for work (!)—without simply using the things that make me happy as my guiding light.
What work advice do you have for teens or for young people just starting out?
In a general sense, it would be that evolution is your only constant. This is something my generation is really experimenting with—having multiple, varied careers, even within a short time-span. I've only been out of college for seven years and I've already had full-time jobs in digital marketing, social media, copywriting, and branded content everywhere from websites and start-ups to clothing brands and video platforms. And I don't even do any of those things anymore! Don't get caught up in a certain dream job or goal or vision, since it's impossible to see what job you'll have a few years down the line.
Anything else you'd like to add? Yeah, can we talk about how networking is a total joke? You can do so much more for yourself by tweeting at strangers and e-mailing witty notes to people you admire than you’ll ever accomplish at a business seminar, so go for it on a one-on-one level. Hit up the people who inspire you! Make them your BFFs! Blow up their spot! I mean, unless you want to be in finance. If you want to do that...well, ignore everything I’ve said.