Friday, October 23, 2009

Counting Down

Yesterday marked the 75 day point on my countdown to Disney-town. haha. Hooray!! It's coming up yall and I couldn't be more excited.

I'm auditioning in Austin to hopefully be a character performer in 12 days. It sure is coming up quickly!

I have no idea how I'm going to do. I went to the audition for the Fall 2009 season in Rochester New York but long story short, I was in New York City the day before and my lack of grace and full consideration of things around me contributed to me tripping on the subway platform and tearing the cartilage in my knee the day BEFORE my audition. So. That was awesome.

I still attempted the audition but I was so flustered that my animation attempt was illconcieved and a complete failure, haha, but I danced pretty well considering that all the turns were on my injured knee. In hindsight I should have just told the recruiter what had happened and gone home and auditioned in Austin a few weeks later after I was somewhat healed, but the whole New York trip was specifically to go to the first audition, so I toughed it out. I didn't pass the audition, nor was I accepted into the CP for Fall 2009 but either way, I'm glad I went through the experience as it made this time much more palatable... at least so far.

The animation scenario I got in Rochester was pretty difficult so I'm hoping to get one of the easier ones like making a sandwich. haha. Also, hopefully my knee will be alright for the dance portion. 90% of the time, its fine, but sometimes if I twist it too much (ie: a pirouette or two), it tends to start hurting. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Wish me luck!

Other developments:
  • I'm arriving on January 6th!
  • I've chosen a roommate and completed the Roommate Notification form. Her name is Summer and she lives in Louisiana (state neighbor!) and she's amazing. (/grin). She'll be doing Merchandise at Disney. We're meeting up in Houston in December and I can't wait to meet her and have fun adventures! And by that time, we'll have less than a month to go before we meet again in Florida! Yayyy. haha.
  • I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to take my car to Disney or not. The CP does provide bus transportation but I really want to be able to have my car so I can go where I want when I want and not have to bug other people about a ride somewhere. Also, I'm not the best at time management in the morning so I'd rather only need 10 minutes to get to work as opposed to taking the bus and needing to leave an hour early. So my dad is gonna look at it next week and let me know if I'll be able to drive it half way across the country. I'm also looking into shipping it or renting a truck to tow it. It all seems pretty expensive so we'll see.

Friday, October 2, 2009

10 Random Facts About Me

  1. I love High School Musical and therefore anything Zac Efron touches. haha. You can hate all you want but he is beautiful and talented. 
  2. I like to eat Ramen noodles with chopsticks.
  3. I have two dogs named Scooby and Spaghetti and a cat named Big Cat.
  4. I just learned how to make pancakes and I am loving this cooking phenomenon!
  5. Most times when I hear songs, I think about movie scenes that they would go well in.
  6. I wish we still lived in a country where a song would come on the radio and everyone would know to do the exact same dance together. 
  7. I'm attempting to learn Spanish from the few phrases my boyfriend is passing on to me and I'm pretty successful so far I think. I know how to say "We need to buy beer for the party" and "door". hahaha. 
  8. I really want to learn Bollywood dances, because they look so fun!
  9. I have a lot of brightly colored sunglasses and shoes because they dress up every outfit in a super fun way.
  10. Some people have travel gnomes. I have a travel Elvis. 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Process: Part II

You made it past the web interview!! Congratulationsssss!!!

Now, its time to really shine:

Step 4: The Phone Interview
When you receive the phone number at the end of your web based interview, you call the number and set up an interview time that is convenient for you, much like setting up a doctor's appointment. On your specified day and time, an interviewer will call you and do the interview.

The Interview:
  • She'll go over your application. She'll ask again if you're a felon, if you ever worked for Disney, verify your address and your school, yadda yadda.
  • She'll make sure you're aware of and willing to comply with the Disney Look.
  • She'll ask a series of questions about your previous work experience. There may be some questions like "How did you handle a difficult boss or professor in the past?". These pretty much elaborate on the Gallup Web Interview questions you were asked.
  • The VERY important: Why do you want to work for Disney?
  • She'll ask scenario questions specific to the roles you picked on your Role Checklist. If you haven't already picked Quick Service Food and Beverage or Custodial, be prepared for her to ask if you'd like to do them, because they need a lot of people. If you don't want to, don't feel pressured into doing something you won't like. Just respectfully decline (read: nicely!). Before your interview, look at the list of roles you've selected and think about real world scenarios that could happen and how you would deal with them. In most cases, you won't know exactly what to do so its more about how you answer the question than what you actually say. The infamous Attractions question: What would you do if a child was too short to ride Space Mountain?

Tips for the phone interview: Smile! Be Polite! Focus on the skills and experience you have and be confident in your answers, even if you feel you aren't entirely qualified for a position.  Most people have never driven a monorail or operated a high speed roller-coaster. You will be trained for everything.

If you would like to audition to become a Character Performer, now is the time the interviewer will approve you (or not) for an audition and sign you up for a specific city/date. There are 14-15 cities around the US where auditions are held the same week. You can go to any location you want but they are all fair game. Auditions will be discussed in a later post.

Step 5: The Wait

You have done all you can do. Now you wait for the infamous purple... something. In the past, it was always a purple folder in a big white envelope (a regular sized white envelope is usually a pending letter or a rejection letter. eek!), but this semester, a ton of people have been receiving purple emails, including myself, followed by the purple folder.

Step 6: Accepting/Declining The Offer
So you got extended an offer in the Disney College Program! Congratulations!! Now, you just have to decide whether or not you want to accept the role they offered you. If you do, great! Go online, log in with the information you are provided with, choose your arrival/departure dates, and pay your $100 assessment fee. If you didn't get the role you really really wanted (and remember, you are only offered roles you checked off as ones you were willing to do), you can decline the offer and reapply next semester. The role they offer you is the only one you're going to get for the current semester. There is no penalty for declining the offer. You will have equal chances of getting in next time around no matter what you decide to do.

Step 7: Wait some more
Wait for your program to start! Work out everything at home before you leave. Do you have an apartment you need to sub-lease? Do you have pets you need to take to your parents' house? Do you have any final arrangements to make with your school? Do it now!

Step 8: Yay!!!
Move to Disney World!!!!!!!

The Process: Part I

Below is the process for getting into the Disney College Program at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Step 1: Make Sure You Qualify
At the time of this writing, the requirements you must meet before applying to the Walt Disney World College Program (WDWCP) are as follows:
  1. You must be at least 18 years old by the time you arrive in Disney for the start of your program. You can apply at 17, just make sure that you turn 18 before you get to Florida. 
  2. You must have graduated high school and be currently enrolled in college at the time of your application. You must have completed at least one course in college by the time you arrive at Disney for the start of your program. This means you can apply as a first semester freshman or as a graduating senior during your last semester, as well as any semester in between. Duel-credit college courses taken while in high school do not count.
  3. You must be able to legally work in the United States. 
  4. You must meet your school's requirement for participation. This is usually being in 'good standing' with your school. If you receive credit for participating in the Disney College Program, you'll need to make sure you are in compliance with your school. For example if you have to take a certain kind of class or number of classes, make sure you do so. 
Step 2: Apply
Attend a presentation (either on a school campus near you or online via the E-Presentation here. I would suggest doing the E-Presentation because it will allow you to apply sooner. The sooner you apply the higher your chances are of being accepted. The information is the same in both presentations, the difference is at the school presentations there will be Disney reps there to answer questions. You can do both if you like). Write down your confirmation code because you'll need it to start the Web Based Interview. Know what season you would like to apply for before you fill out the paperwork.

The seasons are as follows:
Spring: January-May (Approximately the spring school semester)
Spring Advantage: January-August (spring school semester + summer)
Fall: August - Early January (approximately the fall school semester)
Fall Advantage: Late May - Early January (fall school semester + summer)

There are also programs designed specifically for those on a trimester or quarterly based school system.

The application is your basic legal information including name, social security number, address, college/university, and a small (300 character) place for any extra information (languages, skills, etc).

An additional step in the application process is to fill out a "Role Checklist". This is a list of the job opportunities you may have should you get accepted. Only answer yes to those roles you truly feel comfortable doing for months. In your phone interview, you will state the order in which you would like to be considered for the roles you selected.

Step 3: The Web Based Interview
After you've completed your application, you move on to the web based interview. This is a Gallup survey meant to assess your personality and work habits. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and has mostly questions like "I handle stressful situations well" and you answer either strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, or strongly disagree. General tips for this are to answer consistently and to not answer neutrally too often.The "interview" isn't too hard, its just stressful. Just try to remain calm and think about how you would behave if you worked at Disney World (besides OMG OMG OMG!).

After you've completed the web based interview, if you've passed, you can log back in to your application and there will be a number for you to call to set up a phone based interview. If you are not presented with the phone number, you did not pass the web based interview and you'll have to reapply next semester.

Next: The second half of the process

WDWCP Basics: Earning

Now onto the good stuff: Working in Disney World!!!

So during your time in the Walt Disney World College Program, you will be working in one of the four theme parks, two waterparks, or 20+ resort hotels (Isn't that exciting?!).

As will be mentioned in the Process posts later on, when you apply for the CP, you'll fill out a Role Checklist. This list is comprised of all the different job types you can have while you're on the program. You choose the ones you are interested in, and after your interview, the Disney College Recruiting team will decide which role you are best suited for from the ones you have chosen. Then upon your arrival, you will be given an even more specific work location, where you will be for the duration of your program. So for example, if you accept an offer as an Attractions Cast Member (rides) and you are positioned at Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park, you will be working as a Tower of Terror Bellhop for your entire program!

Here are some quick facts:
  • You are guaranteed to work at least 30 hours every week. I've read of people getting steady 50-60 hour weeks during peak times (Spring Break, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas) but most of the time people average 40-45 hours per week. Your hours greatly depend on your role and your location. For instance, if you work at Animal Kingdom, its possible you won't get as many hours as you would if you worked at Magic Kingdom simply because of the park hours difference.
  • You are paid weekly (and housing costs are directly taken out of your paycheck before you get it) so theoretically, your entire check is spending/entertainment money (remember to take out money for gas and groceries though!!).
  • Your schedule will rarely look the same day to day.Or week to week. This varies by location but expect some weird hours and long shifts.
But besides working long, weird hours... remember... You're working in Disney World!! For months!!!

Its totally gonna be worth it, I just know it.

I'm going down as a Photopass Photographer and from my role description, it really sounds like I'll be working in all four parks and maybe some resorts as well so I'm super excited!! Yay Photopass! haha.

WDW Basics: Learning

This is the Disney College Program after all and many many students are on strict graduation plans, so Disney has devised a way to cooperate with your school in order to keep you on track while still allowing you to participate in the CP.

Disney offers a number of courses available for you to take on property to learn life skills, career skills, and to have an in depth look at aspects of the Walt Disney Company. These are not your average college courses. There are no english, math, science, or history courses. Herein lies the difficult part.

It is up to your school entirely whether they will accept the courses you've taken at Disney as transfer credits or not. Most of the time, the courses have to strongly resemble likeminded courses at your home university. Print out the syllabi of each of the courses and make an appointment with an advisor at your school. Have them go over the syllabi and determine if you can get credit for any of the courses.

Here is a list of the courses available to everyone:
Advanced Studies in Hospitality Management
Corporate Analysis
Corporate Communication
Creativity & Innovation: Gaining the Edge
Experiential Learning
Human Resource Management
Marketing You
Organizational Leadership

Each of these courses are recommended for credit by the American Council of Education, so you at least have that on your side.

If you cannot receive credit for the courses themselves, ask about getting credit for the internship in general. This works mostly with those who need an internship to graduate (some hospitality or marketing majors for example), but it doesn't hurt to ask no matter what your major is.

If your school doesn't accept credit from Disney directly, maybe they'll accept credit through another school that accepts Disney credit. Confusing, I know. I still don't quite get it, so here.

Lastly, if they will not give you credit in either form, and you have to remain in classes for insurance or financial aid purposes, look into taking Distance Learning or online courses from your home university. This is what I'm having to do because my school does not award credit for Disney courses. Most of the time, you'll have to contact the professors of your potential classes directly and ask if their courses can be taken entirely online. Some can, others will require you to take tests in a testing center. This can pose a problem when your testing center is in Texas (in my case) and you're in Florida. Some professors will allow you to take tests given by a proctor somewhere else (ie: Orlando). Disney offers test proctoring at Disney University on property but they generally need the test a week in advance. Another proctoring option would be to go to Valencia Community College and use their testing center. You'll then have to pay for them to mail your test results back to your University. As you can see, its definitely easiest if you can find a course that is entirely online and doesn't require outside proctoring/test taking.

All courses at Disney are optional. If your school gives credit for Disney courses, you'll generally have to pay your school's tuition for those credits, along with textbooks and school supplies. Any required course materials outside of textbooks will be paid for automatically through payroll deduction. You are also welcome to take the courses even if you don't receive credit for them and you just want to see what the course is like.

Other learning opportunities to note:

WDWCP Basics: Living

Participating in the Walt Disney World College Program (WDWCP or CP) provides you with the most amazing opportunity to work for the number one entertainment and hospitality company in the world. You will meet incredible people from all over the globe, learn valuable skills and lessons, make life long friends, and be a part of the wonderful show that brings magic to the world every day. The WDWCP is a semester (or semester + summer) long internship at the Walt Disney World Resort designed for college students to give them the opportunity for an experience of a lifetime. Once accepted into the program, you'll trade your dorm room for a provided apartment in sunny Florida (LIVING); you'll have the chance to take classes at Disney University to receive credit from your school or to just learn more about the Disney company (LEARNING); you'll replace your coffee shop weekend job with a career starter in The Most Magical Place on Earth (EARNING).

Disney simplifies the program components into three sections, so I will too. The first?

After being accepted into the CP, you will leave your school, state, and possibly country,  for an entire semester, and move to Lake Buena Vista, Florida where the Walt Disney World Resort lives. During your time at Disney on the CP, you will be provided with housing in apartment complexes on Disney property. These apartments are only occupied with other students on the College Program or International Program.

A set amount is taken out of your paycheck automatically every week before you receive it. This amount covers apartment expenses such as rent, utilities, cable, internet, and bus transportation (to work, Wal-mart, the mall, and other area shopping destinations, should you not bring your car).This amount will depend on the complex and size of apartment that you live in while on the program. It ranges generally from $75-100 per week. While that may originally sound like a lot, especially if you have a lot of roommates, it truly evens out once you consider all that it covers (above).

You will be assigned to an apartment complex during Check-In when you arrive for your program. You can request a certain complex, apartment size, or floor and Disney will try to accommodate you, but nothing is guaranteed and its pretty much first-come, first-served.

You can also request to live with certain friends you have made during your application process. Again, Disney will try to make it happen but nothing is guaranteed. In both cases concerning requests, it is best if you get to Check-In as early as you can. If you're trying to get certain roommates, you must all be in line for Check-In together.

Requirements for living with roommates:
  1. You must all be the same gender
  2. You must all have the same arrival/departure dates
  3. You must all be either Wellness or Non-wellness
    - Wellness is a term used to describe an alcohol free environment. If you are under 21, you must live in a Wellness apartment. If alcohol is found in your Wellness apartment, you (and possibly your roommates) will be terminated from the program. No questions asked. Please be mindful of this because this is the number one reason people are asked to leave the program. If you are 21, you may choose to live in a Wellness apartment but despite your age, if there is alcohol in the apartment, you will be terminated.
     - Non-wellness is an apartment where you are allowed to have alcohol. You must be 21 to live in a Non-wellness apartment.
Roommate Notification: You can choose one roommate before you arrive that are you guaranteed to live with. They have to have the same basic information as you (above) and you have to know their application number. If this is something you want to do, you fill out the Roommate Notification form when you accept your offer to work in the CP. You can also fill out the Roommate Notification form to be randomly matched with a roommate before you arrive so you can talk online/over the phone and get to know each other. If you don't fill out this form, you'll be randomly assigned roommates at Check-In, although most of the time it's people you are in line with, if they have the same basic information as you, so don't be shy in line!

No matter how many rooms your apartment has, there will always be two (2) students per bedroom. So, here's a list for ya.

One bedroom = you + 1 other person
Two bedroom = you + 3 other people
Three bedroom = you + 5 other people
Four bedroom = you + 7 other people

(SEVEN PEOPLE?!?! I know, its crazy. But its also a chance to meet more people who could end up being your life long friends!)

Also, a thing to note: Working at Disney World in any role could come with crazy hours. Chances are, you will rarely be in your apartment with every one of your roommates after the first few days on the program, except at night to sleep.

Great ways to find potential roommates before you start your program?
- YouTube Vlogs. Search WDWCP or Spring 2010 (whatever your program season is).
- There is always a Facebook group. Find yours and tell a few things about yourself on the discussion board!
- Speaking of discussion board, my favorite place to go for anything Disney: The DISboards
- AIM chatrooms (what? people still use AIM? Yes Sir'ee Bob!! Tons of CPers (college program-ers, haha) use the AIM chatrooms and its the best place to really see peoples' personalities and interests. The chatroom for Spring 2010 is, well, wdwcpspring2010. Easy enough! You can usually find the chatroom name somewhere in the Facebook group.

Up next: Learning