Have you ever dreamed of having a job at the “Happiest Place on Earth?” Where going to work means putting smiles on faces young and old? Then after a long day, lying back and watching some of the most extravagant firework shows in the world? As Cinderella famously put it, “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” If this sounds like a dream you’ve been having, your heart could be wishing for a spot as a cast member in the Disney College Program! By the way, this opportunity is open to ladies AND gentlemen out there!
As magical as this program may be, getting in isn’t as easy as “Bippity Boppity Boo.” Each year there are a whopping 50,000 students that apply, and only 5-10,000 are accepted. However, this doesn’t mean to go into this process with an Eeyore attitude! In fact, Texarkana’s own, Jordan Tidwell, just returned from this very internship.
“What should I do before I apply?” is the most important part of the application process. Even though this is an awesome opportunity, be aware that you could be moving up to 1,600 miles away from your family for up to eight months. So if you are a daddy’s girl, like Belle, or a mama’s boy, like Tarzan, this might be something worth evaluating. Keep in mind that colleges have different requirements for the program, so talk to your academic advisor before beginning the process. Disney recommends only taking up to two classes at a time, preferably one online class through your college, and one class offered at Disney. The “Disney Look” is a big deal for many people. They require cast members to look clean, polished, and natural. This means no crazy hair colors, and wild makeup is NOT acceptable. You can review exact requirements at disneycollegeprogram.com. Also, take into consideration that there is a fee you have to pay within ten days of your acceptance. The Orlando fee is roughly $400, while the Anaheim fee is in the $900 range. More importantly than all of these, ask yourself if this program is right for you. Will you benefit within your major or your future career from participating? If the answer is yes, I cordially invite you to continue reading.
Congratulations! You have decided to be one of the many to take a shot at this chance of a lifetime. So when do you apply? Spring applications open in August and close in October, and Fall applications open in February and close in March. So be on the lookout, because Disney never gives the exact date! Let’s go over some of the job opportunities. Some of the most popular roles as a college program cast member are attractions, custodial, character attendant, lifeguard, and merchandise. Before applying, check out all positions offered!
Let’s move on to the application process. To begin, go to disneycollegeprogram.com and click the big green button that says APPLY NOW. It will have you create an account and then your application appears. It will ask you some pretty general stuff like your name, college, major, and etc. After this, you will be asked to select which jobs you are open to having on a scale of highly interested, moderately interested, and not interested. Some advice from Zoe Iscas, a former cast member is, “Even if you would prefer not to work a job, select it anyway. You can create magic with any role given at Disney. Recruiters like openness. By the way, custodial isn’t as bad as it sounds. You get to walk around the parks freely all day, and talk to guests as much as you want without a script.” Then comes the part that matters most. You will be asked to list all of your work experiences and how they benefitted you. Each application is reviewed thoroughly before they offer you an opportunity to move further in the process. So list every job you’ve ever had. From community service to working as a hostess at your local restaurant. Now it’s time to click submit! Usually within a few hours you will receive a response email. It will say either “Thank you for your interest (that’s the email you don’t want to get)” or “Immediate Action Required Web-Based Interview.”
“Hooray!” You have made it to the next step, a web based interview. You are expected to complete this within three days of the email. It is suggested to complete it the day upon receiving. Allot at least an hour and a half for this section. The Web Based Interview is basically a way for Disney to figure out if your personality and work ethic would correspond well with the company, so answer honestly. The biggest advice from former applicants is to use strong answers. Disney likes you to be sure of yourself. For example, if you are asked “Are you generally a positive person?” Either put “Strongly Agree” or “Strongly Disagree.” Don’t settle with “Agree.” However, if your answer to that question is “Strongly Disagree,” Disney might not be the best fit for you. Also, don’t over think or freak out. Yes, this portion is timed, but, they give you an ample amount of time to complete it. Some say this is the most stressful part of the process, because you are immediately denied or accepted for continuation upon completion.
If you have made it to this point, you are probably doing a happy dance in front of your computer, or running through the house full of joy. Why? You have been asked to schedule a phone interview! This is the final step before you take your carpet ride to the Magic Kingdom. Recruiters can call 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after your scheduled time, and interviews last 15-20 minutes. This means you need to allot at least an hour for your interview. Schedule it for a time of day you have your best attitude, and when you will not be disturbed. When they call, answer with an upbeat voice. “It sounds silly, but make sure to smile during your interview. It gives off a good vibe, and your recruiter can tell,” this advice from a former cast member. Also, always remember to call your recruiter by name. Be open to suggestions, seem invested, and DO NOT sound scripted. It is okay to research possible questions, but don’t keep answers fully written out. You want responses to come from your heart, not paper. Last but not least, have a super fantastic answer for “Why do you want to be a participant in the Disney College Program?” This will define your entire interview. Once you hang up the phone, there is nothing more you can do. You could be waiting for a final decision for up to a month. Keep in mind that this process is one long waiting game.
If you are not accepted, don’t be discouraged. You can re-apply during the next recruiting season. Always remember, like Mulan, you will bring honor to your family no matter the outcome.
After all of this, if you are accepted, get ready to go “to infinity and beyond!” for an internship you will remember for a lifetime.