So…how’d I land the sweetest co-op ever?

By , February 4, 2014
Manny Esteves

Introductory Post:

            Hi guys! I’m Manny, the newest intern at GCII. I figured I’d give you a short intro about me along with how I managed to land the coolest co-op in the world. I’m studying mechanical engineering at Penn State University and I’m from Long Island, New York. I’ve had a passion and love for roller coasters since I was barely old enough to stand up and make the height requirement. From that point on I always kept a secret dream of being able to build one. And now here I am, doing just that! So here’s a story of how I got here.

One of the very first things I did at Penn State was sign up for their Theme Park Engineering Group (TPEG). It was probably the best thing I could have done for myself in terms of getting my first look at the industry and if you don’t have one at your school, you may want to consider making one; there’s strength in numbers. Through the group, I got to learn more about companies like GCI, conventions like IAAPA and the amount of engineering that went far beyond basic mechanical physics. I was introduced to programs like No Limits, got to work on projects like the Kennywood Thunderbolt and met some of my best friends in college. The best thing about being a part of a group like this is being able to make a lot more connections through other members’ experiences, and that’s how I met Chris Gray.

Chris had contacted our member Jordan about a new TV show for the Travel Channel in which he was one of the hosts. The concept of the show was to rebuild theme parks past their prime, which brought our group out by Erie, Pennsylvania to see what we could do with Conneaut Lake Park. Seeing this as an opportunity to network and get some project experience, I put in my final days as a ride-op, caught a bus down to State College, and carpooled with some members of the group to make this park a little bit better. I met Chris that day and I was assigned to help him build the newest attraction he was working on for the park. As we got to work, Chris noticed my hustle and said “Dude, you’re a rockstar!” I responded with, “I feel more like a roady.” He laughed and told me that was what the industry was all about. Throughout the week we talked about rides and school and one conversation went like this:

Chris: Hey guys, I think the production assistant is around your age. What are you guys, like 22?
Group: 21,22,21.

Me: Silence.

Chris: That makes you the baby of the group doesn’t it?

Me: Yep. I’m 18.

Chris: 18?! And you’re a sophomore? Wow that’s young. How are things going with internships?

Me: I almost got a co-op with a helmet company; kinda fell through though.

Chris: Have you ever thought about working for a ride company?

Me: Of course I’ve thought of working for a ride company!
I’d love to. Nobody seems to be hiring though.

Chris: Well you’re talking to a guy who hires a lot of interns in the industry.

Me: Oh my God! Be cool bro. Don’t screw this up.

So, are you guys hiring, then?

Chris: Not for the fall, once we get some projects we’ll hire some interns. We love having that youth and energy around in the office.

Me: Ugh, tease.

A couple of months later I ended up applying and getting accepted into the Disney College Program. Then, as impeccable as his timing could be, I got a call from Chris, who gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I ended up dropping out of the Disney College Program to take the position at GCII as their youngest intern yet and I’ve been ecstatic for the stuff I’m going to be working on. I’m living my dream and I’m happy to share the journey on this blog with you guys. It’s gonna be a wild ride, oh and the coasters should be pretty awesome too!


Lesson 1: You’ve gotta work like a roadie to be a rockstar in this industry.

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