My Experience Applying To The Disney College Program

Disney has been with me my entire life. From the 2000s Halloween nights dressed up like princesses, to films and songs with themes that stand true even now. I think one of the safest assertions is, no matter who you are, at some point in your life, you were probably moved by Disney, even if it was only for a single, minuscule moment. With campaigns encouraging little girls to dream big, and nostalgia infused marketing which reminds adults there’ll always be that little kid within them-- Disney is inspiring to everyone, regardless of culture or age group.

Photo Courtesy of Christina Papadopoulos

I visited Walt Disney World in Orlando for the first time in the summer of 2016. Stepping through the gates of the Magic Kingdom for the first time meant forgetting every woe or worry I ever had, and simply focusing on the charm of the parks. From there, I was sold. This was my happy place, and where I wanted to be. Since then, I’ve been back four times, and have only fallen more in love each time. When I began to think about my future, I knew I wanted Disney to be apart of it. That was when I discovered The Disney College Program (DCP).

I’d heard about it before; in passing, on Instagram, and from a few upperclassmen friends who participated. In essence, the DCP is a paid internship where university students work in roles at either the Orlando or Anaheim theme parks and resorts. You attend classes regarding company customs and traditions, living with fellow participants from all over the world. The DCP is meant to give college students experience working at a Fortune 500 company with paramount customer service standards, all while building a foundation in the business.

Applying to the program wasn’t a rash decision. Much like planning a Disney vacation, it took weeks of preparation, watching videos with cast members recounting their experiences, and refining my resume to ensure it was up to Disney’s standards. I applied this past August, starting the day applications were released for 2020’s Spring Program. I filled mine out in its entirety, sending it to my co-op advisor for review. She sent it back the following morning with revisions, and after following her carefully crafted advice, I sent in an app I felt perfectly reflected my experience and qualifications. I’d finally begun step one into discovering if I was eligible for what would determine if I’d fulfill my dreams in achieving a Disney career. Thankfully, my nerves blossomed into elation rather quickly. Thirty minutes after applying, I received approval for a Web-Based Interview (WBI). A WBI is a pass/fail quiz that shows whether you align with the classic Disney work personality and behavior. I completed this the following afternoon, passing that round as well. Finally, it was time to schedule a phone interview, which was probably the most terrifying part of all. I’ve never considered myself to be the best over the phone, and was ridden with anxiety at the mere thought. Still –my friends reassured me– I could talk about this in my sleep. I wanted this more than anything, and the recruiter would see that.

I scheduled my phone interview for a week and a half after my WBI, and at 12:00 p.m. on August 29th, I received a call from DCP recruiter, Nickey. It went just about as well as it could have, and I was told I’d hear back in approximately two to four weeks with a decision. Five days later, on September 3rd, I was given the news that meant all my wishes were granted –I was accepted for the Late Spring Program, with my top choice role in Attractions.

Photo Courtesy of Christina Papadopoulos

The entire process was exhilarating. I’d sent in an application with the acknowledgment that there were applicants with more to offer –but I learned to market the skills I’ve garnered in my time thus far, and it got me through. My favorite part of the process was the phone interview, where I was asked if working behind the scenes would ruin the Disney magic for me. The question took me by surprise– even with a hundred different forums depicting DCP phone interview questions, I had never seen anything similar to that. While it took me by surprise, I realized I had answered that question on my own a thousand times before. I admired backstage Disney and loved the notion that I would be a piece in the puzzle of creating magic for people of so many different backgrounds and cultures. I’ve been given the magic of Disney for 19 years of my life. It has gotten me through everything, and has always been something I’ve aligned with. I want to bring that same magic to others, and give back to the cause I so wholeheartedly believe in.

I’ve always said there’s nothing a trip to Disney World can’t fix. Starting in March, I’ll finally be on the inside, behind the castle walls, living in the parks for four months, and making magic for guests I can’t wait to meet. So, here’s to that. Here’s to knowing this is merely the start of my career in magic-making.