Southern California native Jessica Pineda is one of Disneyland’s Fall 2015 public relations professional interns. The other day, I asked her to share some of her advice and experiences with all of you. Read our Q&A below!
Full disclosure: Jesi was my roommate during my Disney College Program, and I’m crazy proud of her.
Q: Why did you decide to do a Professional Internship (PI)?
JP: Like most of us, Disney stories have played a huge role in my life since childhood. As a frequent Disneyland guest growing up, the parks became my happy place. As I studied communications in school, I also began to appreciate Disney’s dedication to detail and storytelling—two things I truly value in my professional writing as well. Advancing my career as an aspiring public relations professional for a company I have connected with my whole life seemed like a perfect fit.
Q: What was the application process like?
JP: It actually took me three tries to get a Professional Internship! The first time, I applied my freshman year with little experience to prepare me. Inevitably, I didn’t even get a phone screening. I applied for a few the following year (even made it all the way to the final round for one!) but ended up without an offer. However, I did not come out empty-handed. I received valuable feedback about how to grow a bit more before I could get a PI.
The third time around, I started preparing the semester before I applied! I printed out the job descriptions of the PI’s I was interested in applying for the following semester and sought opportunities to align my experience with the necessary skills. Once applications were out, I spend days perfecting my cover letter and resume!
After my general phone screening, I was asked to do several time-sensitive public relations writing samples. Then, I was asked to conduct Skype and in-person interviews.
A week and a half after final interviews, I was blessed to receive an offer! Phew. A lot happened in the two months between submitting my application and receiving an offer!
Q: How did your education and your various internships help prepare you for what you’re doing at Disneyland now?
JP: I earned my bachelor’s degree in Communications + Public Relations, and everything I learned from writing basics and Associated Press Style to basic photography and public speaking have prepared me for my current role! It is absolutely important to have previous internship experience when applying for Professional Internships.
Getting experience outside the company helps you bring fresh perspective to the team and helps you practice similar tasks in a different setting! For example, some of my tasks include captioning photos, drafting press materials and helping with photo shoots—all things I had experience doing by the time I applied because of previous internships and extracurricular activities.
Q:How did participating in the Disney College Program impact your PI experience?
JP: Participating in the Disney College Program is actually one of the reasons I chose to pursue Public Relations! The Corporate Communications collegiate course and offered by the Internships & Programs Education team opened my eyes to the industry, and I would not have even known about my internship if it wasn’t for that class.
The DCP also provided me with the opportunity to learn from leaders within the company that could serve as mentors and familiarize myself with the culture within Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. Having a working knowledge of Disney’s brand such as product offerings, proper nomenclature and current campaigns/projects are important to know.
I learned great resume writing tips, personal branding tips and more from the free Career Development Workshops held in Vista Way too! Those are extremely valuable resources I know a lot of CP participants pass up, but those tips help no matter where your future takes you.
Q: What’s your favorite part of your PI?
JP: My favorite part of my Professional Internship program is the countless amount of growth opportunities I can take advantage of. Just within my role, my team allows me to delve into many different parts of PR, from writing and coding to photo/video shoots and planning tour itineraries. As a community, the Professional Internship Events team sets up speaker series, resume reviews, socials and a variety of other offerings throughout the season. There’s so much to learn in such little time!
Q: What is the most challenging part of your PI?
JP: One of the most challenging parts of my Professional Internship so far has been coming to terms with the fact that because my career is only in its early stages, I will make mistakes. With the anxiety of graduating from college and how competitive these positions are, I falsely pressured myself into thinking I had to be the best and know how to do everything already. That is far from reality.
I have been blessed to have managers that challenge me but also help me when I am stuck and listen to me when I feel troubled. They don’t expect me to know everything. I have made plenty of mistakes during my internship, but the important thing is to learn from them.
Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to apply for a PI in the future?
JP: Be patient. It saves you so much unnecessary anxiety. There are many applicants, and recruiting interns is not super high on the priority list when teams have so many projects going on.
Have confidence. Don’t compare yourself to others. The application process can be scary, but know that you can bring unique talents and ideas to the table. Stand by that statement when making your case as to why you should be hired.
Get involved. Do what you love. Preparing for a job application starts long before you even think of drafting a cover letter or resume. Take classes, jobs and volunteer opportunities that can sharpen your skills and shape you into the perfect applicant for your dream role.
Be a “Yes Man.” Do not turn down an opportunity to go the extra mile if you have the time and effort to spare. Ever. Taking on extra responsibility not only exemplifies model work ethic but also gives you experience you may not have gained otherwise. Not to mention, it’s a great attitude to have as an intern. Accepting—and excelling—at even the not-so-glamorous assignments (with a positive attitude!) will make you a desirable team member and well-rounded professional. It really says something when you are the one who will gladly do a necessary task when everyone else shies away.