Broadway Star Shares Disney Employment Dream At Tony Awards

Photo credit: Disney Theatrical Group

Photo credit: Disney Theatrical Group

Disney ain’t never had a friend like James Monroe Iglehart, the incredible actor who plays Genie in the Broadway adaptation of Aladdin. Iglehart professed his life-long desire to work for Disney as he accepted the 2014 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.

“I want to thank Disney,” Iglehart said. “I love you. I’ve been wanting to work for you since I was 10 years old.”

In his speech, Iglehart also thanked Thomas Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical Group; Casey Nicholaw, director-choreographer of Aladdin; “the late, great” Howard Ashman, lyricist for the Aladdin film; and Alan Menken,  composer of both the film and Broadway adaptations of Aladdin.

Personally, I’m psyched someone so talented who truly has a passion for working for Disney won a Tony. Rock on, Mr. Iglehart!

James Praise Dance

For more information about Iglehart and the Tony Awards, read Broadway World’s article about the Genie’s triumph.

Disney-isms That Stay With You After Your College Program

Are you ready for a huge wave of nostalgia? Today marks the one year anniversary since my last shift working for Disney as a College Program intern. I remember it like it was yesterday: I was hanging out with Baloo and King Louie in Camp Minnie Mickey at Animal Kingdom. I was determined to get through the day without crying, and I almost made it…until two of my friends showed up as the last guests of the day.

On the left is my friend Last daySally. She’s from Australia, and she was in entertainment. (Read about her most memorable magical moment here.) On the right is Tony, one of my fellow Animal Kingdom attendants. Like I said, I was totally NOT going to cry until Tony started singing the Mickey Mouse Club Alma Mater…Let’s just say my eyes weren’t dry at all that night, especially when I went to see Wishes at Magic Kingdom for the last time on my program.

So what’s the point to all of this? I wanted to share five Disney-isms that are still applicable to my everyday life in good old Akron, Ohio.

1. Safe D Begins With Me.
Trust me, you’ll never get that out of your head. It’s almost annoying how often I use crosswalks.

2. The two-finger point.
It’s impossible to point with one finger now. You’ve been brainwashed. Sorry.

3. When speaking to children, get on their level.
Always a good rule of thumb and great to remember if you’re teaching, babysitting or hanging out with young family members.

4. Offering to take a picture for someone struggling to take a selfie.
Look! There’s a couple in front of a ridiculous monument or local attraction. They look like they’re having a hard time fitting both themselves and the attraction in the photo. You look over, not wanting to get involved, but…”Hi folks! Would you like some help taking that picture?”

5. Code speak.
If you had access to radios at work, you know what I’m talking about. You’ll be 10-4ing and Code V-ing more than you’d like to admit.

What Disney-isms still speak to you after your DCP? Leave them in the comment section below!

The Dos and Don’ts of receiving a NLIC

NLICDisney’s deadline for sending out job offers for Professional Internships has come and gone, and a lot of us are out there with a big, fat “No Longer In Consideration” on our dashboards. But guess what? THAT’S OKAY.

Yes, you read that right. It’s okay that we didn’t get offers. That goes for everyone out there who has ever applied for a Disney position, whether it’s full-time, part-time or seasonal work, a Disney College Program or a Disney Professional Internship. An NLIC is not the end of the world. You know why? Because Disney will always be there. You can always apply again, and you have the opportunity to beef up your resume so you have a better chance next time.

I’m looking forward to applying for more Disney positions in the future! As such, I’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts for those of us who are trying to work through our NLIC.

Do

  • Keep your chin up
  • Apply again next time
  • Congratulate others who have received offers
  • Try to contact a recruiter to see what you can do to improve
  • Gain more relevant experience to better your chances
  • Network with Disney employees in the area you’re interested in

Don’t

  • Be too gloomy
  • Give up on your dream to work for Disney
  • Complain about your NLIC on social media
  • Bring others down or make them feel bad for receiving an offer

At the end of the day, you’re still awesome! Don’t let your NLIC get you down. Share any of your dos and don’ts in the comment section below.

How To Turn Your Summer Vacation Into a Disney Networking Opportunity

Newsies billboardOkay, I know what you’re thinking: Why in the world would I want to take time out of my vacation to network? My answer: Your Disney networking opportunity might just be the highlight of your trip.

I’ve wanted to work in performing arts and entertainment public relations for as long as I’ve known my major. I also really love the Walt Disney Company. Put those two together and you get Disney Theatrical Group (DTG), the performing arts arm of the company located in New York City.

As some of you might know, I participated in the Disney College Program last year. While attending a special networking event for CPs, I asked professionals if they knew anyone who worked with the company at DTG. Lo and behold, one of the social media gurus knew the social media manager at DTG, and he introduced us via email.

After setting up a phone call and talking to the social media manager, he told me to let him know if I was ever in NYC so he could take me on a tour of DTG’s facilities. Luckily, my family plans a vacation to NYC every summer, so I was able to meet up with him only a few months later.

I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was to see DTG’s office space. It was like stepping onto a Broadway stage! I was able to see storyboards for Aladdin, costume pieces from retired DTG shows and even the empty New Amsterdam theater as it was being prepared for a show. It was incredible and definitely the coolest part of my summer vacation (other than talking to Santino Fontana, the voice of Hans, about “Frozen”…but that’s another story).

So how can you have an amazing summer networking experience, too? Here are some of my tips:

  • Do your research. Figure Meghan Newsiesout what aspect of the company you’re most interested in, and figure out where that branch is headquartered. Next, find an employee who currently holds the position you’re interested in and network with him or her. Read my previous blog about Disney networking for more tips.
  • Maintain a relationship with a Disney employee. You don’t want to come on too strong by asking to visit right off the bat. Get to know someone from the company well enough that you feel comfortable asking him or her to go out of their way to meet up with you.
  • Try to plan vacations near Disney hubs. If you’re interested in working for one of Disney’s parks and resorts, plan your vacations near Orlando or Anaheim. Interested in being an animator for Pixar? Try to vacation near Emeryville.
  • ASK! If you’d like to spend a day shadowing a Disney employee, ask him or her. You’ll never know until you ask. The worst they can say is no.

So go forth and network! Use your summer vacations to your advantage! I’d love to hear any of your vacation networking success stories. Tell me all about them in the comment section below!

The Look Book: Creating Your Own Disney Look

When you’re offered a job in a Disney park or resort, you’re not only signing a contract to show up to work; you’re also signing a contract to adhere to the Disney Look. The Disney Look is a compilation of the company’s dress guidelines so that all cast members maintain a clean, classic appearance.

When you’re working in the parks and resorts, you are given your costume, so you don’t have to worry about putting a Disney Look outfit together on a day-to-day basis (unless you have a non-costumed role). Even though you don’t have to worry about your clothes, you do have to worry about your appearance in general. Here are a few of the most common Disney Look rules in terms of general appearance.

  • You can’t have any visible tattoos.
  • Ladies, only one piercing per ear. Guys, no piercings allowed.
  • Glasses and sunglasses have to be a conservative color and style without any logos.
  • No wacky hair colors or styles. Classic only!
  • Guys, if you choose to have facial hair, beards and mustaches must by fully grown and look neat. But no Duck Dynasty beards! Facial hair can’t be more than quarter of an inch long.
  • Ladies, makeup has to be neutral and conservative. Also, nails have to be short and neutral-colored.

At your Disney orientation – Traditions – or any other Disney professional workshop that allows you to ditch your costume for the day, you’ll have to abide be the above rules and more. Disney College Program participants, this means you if you take any classes; you’re required to dress in Disney Look when you go to class.

When it comes to Disney Look clothing, ask yourself this question: Would I wear this article of clothing to a job interview? If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t wear it. Now we’ll explore the next set Disney Look rules for company-approved clothing.

  • Always have a blazer or sports coat at the ready; some jobs require them on occasion, but they’re always acceptable.
  • No sandals, no exceptions.
  • Khakis are okay as long as they’re ironed.
  • Polo shirts are a no-no.
  • Ladies, you can wear sleeveless dresses or tops as long as the straps are at least 3 inches wide.
  • Skirts and dresses can’t be any shorter than three inches above the knee.
  • Got a thing for paisley? Leave it at home. Patterns can’t have any large graphics or logos.

Now that you’ve read the rules, I have some unsolicited advice for you: Don’t let the Disney Look bust your chops. Yes, the rules seem restrictive, but there’s actually a lot of leeway if you’re willing to get creative. Show your style with your clothing. Ever heard of DisneyBound? It’s when you dress up like a Disney character using every-day clothes. Here are two of my favorite Disney Look-appropriate DisneyBounds (sans hat in the second Bound).

Photo courtesy of outrageousdoughnutlevy.tumblr.com

Mary Poppins DisneyBound courtesy of outrageousdoughnutlevy.tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Duy at cafeduy.tumblr.com

Aladdin DisneyBound courtesy of cafeduy.tumblr.com

For more information about the Disney Look, visit the Disney College Program’s Disney Look guidelines for males and females. If you’re still struggling and looking for ideas, visit the Disney Internships and Programs official blog to see some outfit examples. (Shout out to Jesi, one of my DCP roommates who is in the photo at the top! She’s the young lady in tan. Read Jesi’s blog about her adventures as a communication student.)

Application Tips for Disney Professional Internships

As some of you may know, I participated in the Disney College Program (DCP) last spring. There’s one question I always heard from friends, professors and advisors because of it: Why? Why would I want to take a semester off from school to work as a front-line employee at a Disney resort? What was that going to do for my future?

The DCP is only one half of Disney’s programs for college students, and I participated in the DCP so that I would have a better chance of participating in the second half: Disney Professional Internships (PIs). PIs allow college students or recent college graduates to work in their career fields with The Walt Disney Company. For example, as a public relations major, I could work in PR at Disneyland through the PI program.

I recently applied for two different PIs: publicity with Disney Theatrical Group in New York and field marketing and publicity with Disney Studios in California. At this point, I’m still in consideration for both internships, so fingers crossed!

I joined a group of PI hopefuls on Facebook, and that’s where I met Rebecca Muck, a costume design major at Columbia College Chicago. She applied for a few costuming PIs at Disney, and she’s going through the interview process now. This past weekend, I met up with Rebecca on Google Hangout to talk about things we wish we would have known before applying and while we were applying for PIs. Watch the video below to learn some of our tips and tricks for the application and interview process!

If you’re looking for some more PI advice, search through the official Disney Internships and Programs blog; they have a great post on application anxiety that I read through at least once a week to calm my nerves!

Five Easy Steps To Disney Networking

As a Disney pro wannabe, I’m really impressed by anyone who currently works in public relations for the company. These professionals don’t merely serve as my idols; they are my mentors who help open doors to new ideas and experiences. Would you like to find some Disney gurus too? Yes? Then there’s one word you need to know: networking.

According to businessdictionary.com, networking is “creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit.” I know that seems like a tall order, so I’ve decided to simplify it a bit. Here are my five easy steps to Disney networking.

Donald Step One

Step 1: Research
First, you have to find Disney employees who work in an area you’re interested in. There are a few places to look, but a good place to start is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals; you can search names, companies, positions and more. If you search something like “Disney zoologist,” a few LinkedIn members pop up as animal keepers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

If you’re a PR major like me, you have it a bit easier. I start by visiting any of Disney’s official newsrooms. More often than not, a media relations professional will be listed as a contact at the bottom of press releases. Not only do press releases give you contact names, they also typically provide other contact information like email addresses and phone numbers.

Step 2: Reach Out
Now that you’ve found a few Disney employees you’re interested in networking with, it’s time to reach out to them. I always like to start out with an email requesting an informational interview either in person or over the phone. What’s an informational interview? It’s a chance for you to pick a professional’s brain about anything relating to her job or industry. (We’ll get into more of that in Step 3.)

In your initial email, you want to be professional, but don’t forget to be yourself. I like to introduce myself, write about where I go to school and what I’m studying, and write about why I wanted to talk to the Disney pro. Also, always give the professionals an out on the informational interview so you don’t sound too presumptuous. For example, say, “I know you are very, very busy at Disney, but I was wondering if you had a few minutes to talk to me over the phone in the next couple of weeks.”

Your biggest advantage is being a student. Work it, and don’t be afraid to reach out!

Step 3: Interview
So here’s your big chance! You’ve gotten in contact with a Disney professional, and you’re one step closer to adding her to your network. Now’s your chance to really wow her. Ask her about her work, her college career, her career aspirations, anything you’re interested in learning about her life. But don’t forget to ask for advice, too. I commonly ask professionals what I should specialize in (media relations, social media, event planning, etc.) and whether they think grad school is worthwhile for a PR major. You can learn a lot from these Disney pros, so ask away!

Step 4: Thank
If you are ever in contact with a Disney pro for any reason, say, “thank you.” Whether it’s an email or written note, always leave the professional with a good impression. She is taking time out of her day to talk to you or respond to your emails, so you can take time to write a quick “thank you.”

Step 5: Keep In Touch
Once you’ve finished your big interview and have written your thank you note, you don’t want to fall off the face of the planet. You want to be fresh in the mind of the Disney pro…You never know; she might hear about a job opening and recommend you!

Here are a few ways you can keep in touch with your new Disney mentor:

  • Interact with her on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter)
  • Send her holiday cards
  • Share interesting blog posts with her
  • Email her a question every couple of months

And that’s it! Those are my five easy steps to Disney networking! If you want to view a presentation about networking produced by Disney, visit the Heroes Work Here Disney site.

Disney pros are really, very nice. After all, they were students once, too. So go forth and network! It could just help you land your first job at Disney.

If you want to read a little bit about what I learned from my informational interview with former Disney pro David Gill, check out Leaving the Company.