Working for the Disney Company as a college student is not only a way to get some practical work experience, but it is also a great way to “get your foot in the door” at the Disney Company so that you might just begin a career with the company.
Chandler Witzigreuter has written an article on the WDW Radio web site outlining his experience and the process.
Do You Qualify?
First, you need to be sure that you meet the program requirements. There are basically two – you must be at least 18 years old, and you need to be a enrolled in school when you apply.
The Application Process
Now that you know that you qualify for the Disney College program, it’s time to move to the next step – applying to the program. Watch the Disney website for when the online application process opens. The application is fairly straightforward, asking for things like your name, work experience, and University.
However, on the application you do need to specify what in area of the resort you would like to work – from attractions to characters, from food to merchandise. Think about this in advance so that when the application process opens you are ready with your choices.
The application process takes place online, and so does the next step – a web based interview. The web-based interview is basically a series of survey questions asking you to rank items on a scale from 1 to 10.
For example, you’re asked to rank your confidence level on a scale from 1 to 10. At the end of the web-based interview, you receive an e-mail notification telling you whether or not you can proceed to the next step.
Next comes the telephone interview with a Disney Recruiter. You schedule the interview online. The interview is scheduled to take about 30 minutes but you are told to be available for the 15 minutes before or after your allocated time in case the interviewer is running behind.
What Type Of Questions Do Disney Interviewers Ask?
Like any interview, it is important to be prepared. If you search the Internet, you will find a few posts here and there about the types of questions that Disney College Program Recruiters ask.
Generally speaking, most people report that the Disney interviewers are friendly. They ask things like why you are interested in working for Disney, what your goals are, and how you might handle certain guest situations. The Recruiter is trying to understand if you fit the Disney culture and will be successful in working for the company. They also want to make sure you are friendly and focused on providing guests with great experiences.
Like interviewing with any company, it is important to be confident and calm during the process. Thinking about how you might answer potential questions before you get to the interview will help provide that confidence.
If You Are Accepted
After the phone interview it may take several months before you hear back on whether or not you are accepted into the program. Be patient. If you do get accepted, take time to savor the moment and celebrate.
Next, it’s time to accept the offer and confirm your arrival and departure dates.
Pay To Work
When accepted you also need to pay a program fee. Yes, you must actually pay Disney money to enter the Disney College Program.
There is both a Program Assessment Fee to support the events in the housing complexes and also a Housing and Administration fee which covers the costs associated with setting up living arrangements. Fortunately, the housing fee – which is currently the bigger of the two fees – will be applied to your living expenses, which are automatically deducted from your paycheck.
These fees currently run about $300, but check the Disney website for the latest prices. They may go up (Source).
Note that you must pay the entire fee with a credit or debit card, and you may not make installment payments for send in a check.
Is It Worth It?
There is great debate in the online community about whether the College Program is truly a valuable experience.
Many people point out that it appears that the College Program is simply a way for Disney to get cheap and plentiful labor. Many of the jobs do not require college experience, and involve minimum wages, low skill work, and long hours.
However, many people who have actually participated in the program described the experience as having been very valuable. They get real world working experience – and most importantly the name of “Disney” on their resume.
If your goal is to build a career at the Walt Disney Company, then starting off in the Disney College Program is certainly a great idea. It is a way to get your foot in the door, and start to work your way up.
If you are not interested in working for Disney, then you would be wise to spend a bit of time looking for alternatives. There may be other companies that can give you better work experience and opportunities that can potentially lead to a full-time career.
Be Prepared To Work, Learn, And Play
As a participant in the Disney College Program, you will likely work long hours in the intense Florida weather. You will work hard and be tired.
However, he will also very likely have a terrific time with many like-minded people of your same age and situation. Many people report building lifetime friendships during the college program.
You also have the opportunity to take classes offered by Disney. There is often a minimal cost for these classes, and some require that you also purchase a book. But some of these classes do offer college credit, which can help you both speed up your educational process and get some credits at a very reasonable price. Be sure to apply to these courses early as many fill up quickly.