You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me: How to Make Friends on the DCP

It’s time for another season of the Disney College Program! Some of the firstRoommate Best Friends Spring and Spring Advantage folks have checked in this week. Congratulations! Your DCP will be an amazing experience, and you’ll make friends that will last a lifetime.

As some of you know, my sister is participating in the Spring 2015 program, and she told me that some people are pretty worried about making friends. First off, let me say that it’s totally natural for you to feel that way. I was nervous myself! Turns out, I didn’t have to be. Here are some sure-fire ways to make friends on your College Program.

Be open to meeting new friends anywhere and everywhere.
Friends can pop up in the most unexpected places. I met three of my best friends on my DCP because I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking, and I ran into one of them on my way to Traditions (Disney orientation). Literally. I ran into him. After apologizing profusely and introducing myself, we all sat together and chit chatted. And just like that, a friendship was born.

Spend the first few days really getting to know your roommates.
RoommatesYou won’t have access to the parks immediately, so take some time to bond with your roommates those first couple of days. My roommies did a whole bunch of things, from eating dinner at Rainforest Cafe to shopping at the Outlets, from staging a Traditions fashion show to watching Wishes from the beach of the Polynesian. Your roommates might just become your BFFs – literally, best friends forever.

Have an open door day at your apartment.
My roommates and I left our door open so our neighbors would feel free to come in and introduce themselves! We may or may not have bribed them with snacks, too. Thanks to our open door day, my roommates and I met our neighbor who joined us to watch our favorite show every week.

Be yourself around the people you’ll be working with.
The people who work at the same location as you know EXACTLY what you goBoat Dock through every day. They deal with the same guests, witness the same wacky and magical things…they get it. The team-like atmosphere at Disney really lends itself to building long-lasting friendships, so add to it by being personable and outgoing from the get-go. If you want to go the extra mile, plan group dinners or pot lucks. That’s what my location did, matching outfits and all.

Introduce yourself to the people in your classes.
This one is kind of a no-brainer, and your instructors will probably make you do it anyways. You’re spending quality time together every week, and you might be required to do a group project. Greet your classmates with a smile and a “Hi! My name is ______, and I’m working at _______,” and BOOM, automatic connection.

Be social at housing events.
Housing EventAttend the DCP housing events, and introduce yourself to the folks dancing by you, eating at your table, or waiting in line to see a character with you. You never know; you might just work right across from each other

Remember, there’s no wrong way to make friends. Go forth and prosper, new CPs!

Performers Seize the Day as Disney’s “Newsies” Cast Members

Two cast members of Disney’s award-winning hit Broadway musical “Newsies” visited Kent State University Nov. 7, 2014, to teach a master dance class and answer student questions about their professional performing experiences. Because I go to Kent State, I was able to sneak in and watch a little bit of the class and participate in the Q&A to ask the guys a little bit about their experience working for Disney.

Heimbrock teaches students a tap combination.

Heimbrock teaches students a tap combination.

Jeff Heimbrock, who plays Elmer, Spot Conlon and a member of the ensemble, and Chaz Wolcott, who plays Scab and a member of the ensemble, talked about how Disney differs from other performing arts companies.

“They’re a tight ship,” Heimbrock said. “You’re thinking, ‘Oh, I get to create this character, and I get to do this,’ and it’s like, ‘Alright, you go to (there’s a number line on the front of the stage) right six on this line, then left three on this line. The reading of this line is too this, that and blah, blah, blah.’ They know exactly what they want, but that’s ‘Book of Mormon’ and Disney which are both very, you know, corporate theatre.”

Heimbrock explained that smaller productions allow for more creativity on the part of the actor; he can make a character his own by making changes in the way he speaks or reacts to other characters. Disney has a very specific idea of what it wants each character to be, Heimbrock said. But Disney’s corporate theatre isn’t a bad thing.

“The good side of it is the corporate-ness of [Disney] makes it so we have sold out houses every week,” Wolcott said. “If you’re doing that fun, avant-garde downtown musical, it’s going to probably close in a month because no one’s coming. The creative things are fun for you, but you might not get paid anything or the show closes, whereas ‘Newsies’ is selling out in Cleveland. We may have a little less creativity, but we have a kind of selling machine on our hands which is fun for us.”

Wolcott looks on in his "Newsies" hat as Heimbrock teaches.

Wolcott looks on in his “Newsies” hat as Heimbrock teaches.

Wolcott said the “Newsies” fandom is also much more hands-on than that of other productions. Calling themselves “Fansies,” the show’s following is very active on social media.

“[Fansies] immediately comment on things,” Wolcott said. “Like last night, I posted a picture. I go to bed around 2 every night […] Some girl was like, ‘You should be asleep! You have a show tomorrow!’ They kind of invade. It’s cool, it’s nice, but you do definitely have to think about the things you post.”

Heimbrock later added that a Disney social media expert coached the cast about what the actors and actresses should and should not post to uphold the integrity of the show and its characters before they kicked off the tour in October.

At the end of the day, though, both Heimbrock and Wolcott said they are pleased with their experience working for Disney thus far. “They treat us very, very well,” Heimbrock said.

 

Disney College Program Application Tips 2.0

The application process for the Disney College Program can be STRESSFUL. Trust me, I know. I’ve been through it.

Now, a year and a half after I completed my Disney College Program, I’m watching my little sister try to navigate through the application, interviews and waiting. I posted some of the tips from my experience, but I think times are changing. Observing from an outsider’s point of view this time, here are my Disney College Program Application Tips 2.0.

MadisonUse your resources.
Do you know people who have done the Disney College Program before? TALK TO THEM! They’ve gone through it, so they know what it’s like. My sister asked me tons of questions while she was applying and before she interviewed. She also asked for tips from two of her friends who have done programs. If you don’t know anyone personally, ask bloggers. My email is always open to anyone interested in the DCP!

Keisha & KirkCHILL OUT about the phone interview.
Yes, you always want to do your research for any job interview, but you don’t have to go as far as writing out your answer to EVERY question. If you do that, you might sound like a robot in your interview, reciting what you wrote down earlier. You don’t have to go so far as to look up the questions, even. It’s a good idea to have a general idea of what roles you want to talk about, do a little research on those roles, and trust in your personality to shine through. Just smile, be yourself, and you’ll be fine.

Join Facebook groups AFTER you’ve been accepted.
I know, I know. That sounds weird. Why wouldn’t you want to be connected to a bunch of other people who are in the same boat as you as soon as possible? Because you’ll go crazy, that’s why. You’ll see what other people are doing and might try to copy them. Also, when other people start freaking out, it might rub off on you, too. That’s a no-go. Be yourself!

Look for roommates AFTER you’ve officially been accepted.
Trust me. You don’t want to be that person who counts his/her chickens before they hatch.

Go forth and prosper! I wish you all the best luck in your application process. Don’t forget to look at some of my other application tips!

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney

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!