Tag Archives: advice

Work Hard, Learn Lots at Your Disney Internship, PI Alumna Says

A few weeks ago, I shared a Q&A with Disneyland PR Intern Jessica Pineda. Today, I’d like to share another Q&A I completed with a former Disney Professional Intern (PI): Alyssa Slayton. Alyssa completed her PI as a Disney Institute account coordinator in the fall of 2014. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in adult and higher education and intercollegiate athletic administration at the University of Oklahoma.

Alyssa PI GraduationFull disclosure: Alyssa is ALSO one of my Disney College Program roommates, and I’m so glad we’re working through grad school at the same time!

Q: Why did you decide to do a PI?
AS: I wanted to work with the Walt Disney Company again but in more of a professional role than my DCP working in merchandise.

Q: Can you describe the kinds of tasks you would perform on a normal day during your PI?
AS: My role was very office based. I handled daily phone calls and emails from clients. I was the initial contact in Florida for our clients as my manager was regionally located in the Boston area. I worked directly with other departments within Disney Institute and with our partners throughout the Walt Disney Company in the Florida area and also in Anaheim.

Q: What can students or recent graduates expect to learn if they do a PI?
AS: There is not a real way to know what to expect. The roles vary so widely, depending on the area you want to work in. My role was a Monday through Friday, 9-5, working in an office area. There are others that work different kinds of hours and on different days because of park or restaurant hours and handle different responsibilities. Just come in with an open mind, be prepared to learn as you go, and be prepared and unashamed to ask questions.

Q: How did your PI help prepare you for grad school (if at all)?
AS: My PI didn’t really prepare me for grad school specifically. It did give me experience to talk about when I began interviewing for a graduate assistantship. The phone and email skills I used and learned while at my PI have really helped me in my new position as a GA.

Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to apply for a PI in the future?
AS: The advice I would give is if you accept a PI, be prepared to make the most of it. Not everything is pixie dust and magic. There is a lot of hard work and there are difficult moments, but if you try your best to enjoy your work and your fellow cast members, the role can be very rewarding. When applying, be sure of yourself and know what role you want most. Look on the Disney Intern website at some stories from former interns to get an idea of the roles and experiences. There are hundreds (if not thousands) applying for each position, so if you do not get one right away, do not be discouraged. If you get one, congratulations! and enjoy every second.

Disneyland PR Intern Dishes Out Tips For Future PIs

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.

Jesi at D23

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 Corporate Communications Groupin 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.

Jesi & Jungle Cruise ElephantQ: 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.

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!

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!

Disney College Program Application Tips

The Disney College Program (DCP) application process can seem a little daunting. You have to fill out the application, pass the web-based interview, then pass the phone interview. Each step of the process tells Disney something very specific about you and what you will bring to the company if you are selected for the program.

After going through this process myself and having friends who have experienced both success and failure in applying for the DCP, I’m going to offer you some tips for your application process.

Be yourself.
ChloeThe DCP isn’t for everyone. Do some soul-searching and make sure you’re 100 percent committed to moving to Florida or California for a semester to work full-time in a Disney park. Can you smile for hours at a time? If someone starts yelling at you because something happened that was out of your control, can you keep your cool? The application process, especially the web-based interview, will ask these kinds of questions to make sure you are ready for the pressure that comes with working for Disney.

Be curious.
Research! Read up on the different roles offered to college program participants. Explore blogs, vlogs and websites that talk about the DCP experience. This will help you decide if the program and its different roles are right for you. My favorite place to poke around for information was the DCP website itself.

If you make it to the phone interview, don’t be afraid to use the recruiter as a resource. Nothing is worse than being asked, “Do you have any questions for me?” and having no questions prepared. I asked my recruiter, “Did you do the Disney College Program?” Once she confirmed that she had, I asked, “Can you tell me about your experience? What advice do you have for me if I get in?” To be honest, most of my interview was my recruiter telling me about her experience and offering me advice. She even told me that one of her roommates attended the university I currently attend. Those kinds of connections can only be made if you’re curious about your recruiter and her Disney experience.

Be timely.
If you’re serious about wanting to participate in the DCP, don’t wait to apply! The sooner you apply, the more you show the recruiters that you’re really interested and the better the chance you will get the role you want. On the other hand, don’t rush your application. Yes, you want to submit it within the first few days, but make sure all of your previous experience is included and everything is spelled correctly. As the official Disney College Internships and Programs blog says, you should treat this like any other job application.

Be honest.
Just like the DCP itself isn’t for everyone, some roles aren’t for everyone. If you don’t think you can stomach cleaning toilets at Disney for a semester, don’t say you have “high interest” in becoming a custodian on the program. Some people say that you should say you have “high interest” for all roles to ensure you’ll get in. I disagree. I put “no interest” for a lot of roles I knew I would never be able to handle, and I got in just fine. Plus, if you do end up in a role you’re uncomfortable with, you won’t enjoy the program as much.

Be passionate.Dan
This tip is mostly regarding the phone interview. When the recruiter calls, don’t just tell her facts you think she wants to hear. Don’t be afraid to sound excited. Tell her stories. Are you passionate about being a Jungle Cruise Skipper because you had an amazing experience on that ride once? Tell the recruiter that story. If she asks about your experience enforcing a safety rule, tell her about the time you took your kid brother swimming and had to keep him out of the deep end. Try to be as confident and as comfortable as you can be with the recruiter. I tried to pretend that my recruiter was my favorite college professor, and I was just dropping by her office to talk to her.

Be thankful.
Always, always say “thank you” anytime you talk to someone from Disney. Thank your recruiter during your phone interview, and send a follow-up “thank you” email to her the next day. It really goes a long way. Also, it doesn’t hurt to remember your recruiter even after you’ve been accepted. Send another email thanking her for giving you the opportunity. I even went as far as sending my recruiter a holiday card a year later.

Well, that’s all my advice. Remember, Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” It’s in your hands now! Apply today!

Here’s a list of some of my favorite application tips blogs and vlogs. Enjoy, and good luck!

Blog: Disney College Program: Applications and Acceptances
Blog: Application and Interviewing!
Vlog: Top 10 Tips For Applying to the Disney College Program
Blog: Disney College Program Tip #1: Web-Based Interview