Guide to Applying for the Disney College Program
Written by: Yazmeen Khan
Hey everyone! I’m Yazmeen Khan. I’m a student here at Concordia University Texas, majoring in Business with a double concentration in management and marketing. I’m also minoring in writing. I was recently admitted into the Disney College Program, and I’m excited to tell you about the application process, the interview and everything else you need to know about applying for the program.
Dreams Come True through the Disney College Program
We all grew up with our certain favorite Disney characters and have pictured ourselves flying through the jungle with Tarzan, saving the world with Mulan, becoming a pirate and soaring the Caribbean, or joining the fab five. I know we have all dreamt about it.
I wanted to be Cinderella’s best friend and try the gray stuff, highly recommended by Lumiere, with Belle. I am happy to say that my time has come; I’m making my Disney dreams come true!
In a couple of months, Mickey Mouse is going to be my boss! I can’t believe I can actually say that now. How? It’s all through the Disney College Program.
The program is a five-to-seven month internship program, where you get to experience the dreams and magic that you have always wanted and help others make their dreams come true. You can work on the West Coast at Disneyland or on the East Coast at Disney World.
I want to help you make your dreams come true. This guide will help you through the Disney College Program application process. Each step is important when it comes to applying to this internship, so I’m here to help.
Do Your Research
A very important first step that you need to do before applying is research. I have done countless amounts of research on the Disney College Program. I talked with people, spoke with advisors, watched probably every single YouTube video out there, and even read the book, Inside the Magic Kingdom: Seven Keys to Disney’s Success.
You should begin with research to determine if this is something that you will be able to do. Yes, you’ll be at the happiest place on earth, but it’s still is an internship. You’ll be working full time, so you need to decide if you are capable of doing all the requirements it takes to become a cast member.
The first thing that I did was check if this internship would count toward the internship credit I needed for my degree plan. Thankfully it does; I will earn six hours of internship credit through this experience. You may be able to get more credits. Talk to people like your career advisor, academic advisor and your financial aid advisor to make sure that this opportunity is the right choice for you.
I went to Randa Scott at the Center for Vocation & Professional Development (VPD) for her advice. She totally supported it. I also worked with my academic advisor to make sure my credits worked out.
Filling Out the Application
The application is similar to a normal job application that many of us have filled out. They ask you the main questions, like your name, where you live, etc. The most important part of the application that will help you stand apart from other applicants is the job/experience option. This part was, honestly, super scary for me because I have little job experience, and I thought you needed a lot. But experience is more than an official job, so I included both my volunteer and job experiences.
The words you use in this part of the application matter. Randa Scott helped me fill out the application and gave me a sheet of keywords to use when listing accomplishments. The right keywords matter because the system scans for keywords and pushes your application up when they find them. Keywords are key to making your application shine!
Another important part of the application is the role interest. This is where you indicate little to very high interest in the different roles that each park offers. Research each role to determine which roles best fit you.
You need to be very picky when choosing. It’s true that if you put interest in more roles, you will be considered for more roles, but you may be offered a role in which you have no interest.
I can’t stress this enough: DO NOT show interest in a role that you don’t want. Don’t even indicate a little interest because you will still be considered for it. If you are accepted, you will be considered for all roles that you indicate any interest in, even if it’s low interest. They will never cast you for a role in which you show no interest.
The Web-Based Interview (WBI)
This is the part of the application process where a lot of people either make it or break it. The WBI is the first step in the interview process. To begin, you take a personality assessment to see if you have the characteristics required of cast members (interns). Answers are on a scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree.
Pay close attention to these questions because you can easily contradict yourself. For example, one question will ask if you work comfortably in a group, while another question will ask if you work well independently. If you give contrary answers, the system will recognize it.
After you have completed the assessment, the program will immediately tell you whether or not you’re advancing to the next step. You then answer another series of questions. My biggest recommendation for this step is to have someone help you. I completed the interview with my boss, Alex Walker, who is the social media manager for CTX. She recorded my answers to make sure that I didn’t contradict myself. She also guided me through confusing questions and helped me remain calm throughout the process.
You’re not being watched, but you are being timed. You have about 30 seconds to answer each question, so having someone with you makes the process so much better.
After my second assessment, I was told that I was moving on to the next step. Alex and I were so excited, we screamed. People from the neighboring offices even checked on us to see if we were okay.
The Phone Interview
If you pass the WBI, you’ll get an email asking you to set up a day and time for the phone interview. If you don’t pass, then the email will just tell you to try next time. I recommend doing the phone interview as early as you can because our brains are functioning at their best in the morning. I had my interview at 8:30 a.m.
Prepare like you would for any other interview. Google some potential questions, write them down, and write responses in bullet point form to help you answer each question. One question that everyone has to answer is, “Why the Disney College Program?” Put some great thought into this question. Don’t just say you love Disney, because everyone who applies does.
Use professional and personal reasons and tell stories, because interviewers like that. Research each roll you chose, and be ready to answer why you selected them. Also, be ready to answer situational questions, such as, “If Minnie Mouse had to leave, what would you say to the guest?”
Have all your notes ready in front of you so you can reference them if you are having trouble. The interview usually lasts about 30 minutes. At the end of the interview, they will ask if you have any questions. I highly encourage you to ask questions; you’ll sound like you are more prepared and professional.
I asked questions about religious accommodations, and she really enjoyed answering my question about an unforgettable magical moment she experienced at Disney; she even thanked me for asking the question. After she answered, I thanked her for sharing her story. We chatted back and forth for a few minutes, then we said our farewells and hung up.
The Waiting Game
From here on out, it’s a basic waiting game just like any other job. There is a deadline by which all applicants will receive an answer. Yes, you are going to get super anxious, nervous, stressed and so many other emotions, but just remember that all they can say is no. If it doesn’t work out, there’s always next season.
Don’t give up because if this isn’t your time, then the next is. God always has a plan for everyone, and your time will come. Throughout this process, remember to have fun and enjoy the journey. Smile throughout everything, especially during the interview. Let them see your personality!