Disclaimer: Let me make this loud and clear that in no way is this a blog meant to bash the Disney College Program. This is just an explanation of my personal reasons and reflections on why I chose not to proceed with the program.
About nine years ago, I was a wee little college freshman, who didn’t have a lot of friends or felt super motivated in career goals. My university was two and a half hours away, so on top of being disconnected from my family and lost in what I wanted to do, I was extremely home sick.
One day, as I was roaming the halls of the Communications department, I saw a flyer that immediately caught my attention. It was purple and magical and I instantly couldn’t look away. It was an announcement that a Disney College Program rep was going to be on campus that week recruiting interested students. I knew right away that if it involved Disney, I was there. So, I went out of curiosity.
It was a Tuesday night after class. A handful of students all sat in a room as a very bubbly and Disney-Esque recruiter spoke to us. She played a video that incorporated all things Disney and asked if any of us were surprised to learn that Disney was more than just theme parks and Mickey Mouse. I sat there silently rolling my eyes because of course, I knew that it did. I’d grown up with Disney. I did presentations on it in school. I wrote papers. I even gave an informative speech on it which was supposed to be 15 minutes but was told by my professor that what I had drafted was easily a 30-minute speech. Whoops! Once you get me started on Disney, it’s hard to stop me. (I think or at least hope other Disney people can relate.)
Anyways, the Disney rep was super nice and informative and was clearly good at her job because by the end of the presentation everyone in the room was lined up to give their name and their phone number and email so a phone interview could be set up. All I remember thinking was, how cool would it be to work in a place that I love?
About a week later, I did my phone interview. I went to the common room on my dorm floor so I wouldn’t disturb my roommate. I was so nervous. I had done only one other job interview in my life prior to that moment. I wasn’t a fan of phone conversations or interviews. I never feel like I can fully focus or hear or retain everything being said. Phone interviews are just not my thing. [Side note: I’ve done more since then and have got a lot better at it, but still not a fan.]
On top of not liking my interview setting, I was just so inexperienced at job interviews and unprepared for the “what if” scenario questions that the interviewer had prepared for me. Thinking back on it now, I cringe at the thought of that interview. It was bad! I honestly don’t remember a lot of specifics asked because I think I tried to mentally block that memory out of my head.
The only question I do remember being asked was how I would handle a guest getting rowdy with a character if I were a character attendant. My mind went totally blank for that one. I didn’t have a good “Disney response”. To say the least, I panicked. I knew right there and then I wasn’t going to get that role and I was okay with that.
After the interview was over and I was feeling pretty down on myself, I played the waiting game. I had no idea what kind of role they would assign me, let alone if they even wanted to hire me. I tried to keep an open mind when it came to the different cast member roles that I could be assigned, but I really wanted to be working in attractions. So, when I got m email back from the Disney Company that said I had been accepted and I was being placed in Food and Beverage I was SUPER disappointed. That’s not what I wanted. Who wants to work with food and tired and hungry people all day? I sure didn’t.(By the way, this is just how I felt at the time. There really isn’t anything wrong with this role. I have interacted with many Disney cast members in this role who have loved it.)
By the way, this is how I felt at the time about this particular role. There really isn’t anything wrong with working in Food and Beverage. Every role has its pros and cons. I have interacted with many Disney cast members in this role who have loved it. I was just being whiny when I found out this was what they assigned me.
To say the least, I was pretty bummed with the outcome of my DCP interview and assignment. I had always thought about doing the college program, but once reality sunk in I wasn’t so sure anymore. Yes, the role wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t just the role that had me second guessing whether it was right for me or not. I talked with my parents about it. I contemplated back and forth about it and after a few days of really weighing my options, I decided to decline the offer.
Once the opportunity was within reach, I couldn’t really envision myself working at Walt Disney World. Honestly, I was slightly scared that working there would ruin my perception of what had become a place of relaxation, fun, and many good memories for my family. It was a destination for vacation, not a place of employment for me. I didn’t want to the frustrations of work to coincide with something that I hold near and dear to my heart.
Had I received a different role assignment would I have chosen differently? Probably not. When it comes down to it, the cast member role was never really the deciding factor in all of this. It was my fear of tainting something I loved. Yes, I know that’s kind of silly, but I had to go with my gut.
I don’t regret my decision declining an amazing opportunity that I know so many people have enjoyed. I have had many friends who have all worked in various roles at Disney World and Disneyland do it and who wish they could do it again. I’m not discouraging others from doing it either because if you want to, DO IT! My choice not to do it was purely personal. At that time in my life, it was just not the path for me. Instead, I stayed at my university and ended up getting involved with my campus, my sorority, met wonderful people who are now someone of my really good, lifelong friends and I also met the love my of life who will soon by my husband in a year.
The Disney College Program isn’t for everyone. For some, the decision is easier than it is for others. If it is something you want to do, go for it. If it is something you’re on the fence about, assess your situation and options. If it is something you have no desire whatsoever do, then so be it. Just trust your gut.
My advice for people who are about to head to college this fall or are already in college and are thinking about applying, definitely go into it with an open mind. Sure, you might have a role in mind that you’re set on, but know that it may not be the one you get. Be prepared to answer some questions that may be outside your comfort zone, but most importantly have fun with it. It’s okay to be nervous just be yourself. That’s the charm of so many Disney cast members in any role. They are themselves with a touch of pixie dust.
Had I answered my questions with more confidence and depth I may have been assigned a better role or maybe not at all. You never know what is going to happen, but at the end of the day, what’s meant to be is meant to be. Do what you feel is right for you. Every experience is different.
For more information on the Disney College Program and how to apply, click here.