Tag Archives: Disney networking

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)?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.


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!

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.