If you’ve never wanted to give up your inner child, you might consider becoming a part of the magic at Walt Disney World through their Disney College Program. Through the DCP, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes internship, work and academic experience at various Disney parks and resorts in Orlando or California. With this rare opportunity, nailing its competitive application and interview process is crucial.
Here’s some advice from two recently-accepted DCP participants.
Apply as Early as Possible
DCP participants somewhat debate this topic. Some say that even if it means applying the day that applications drop – do it. But, the best advice? Apply at the time that works best for you, but try not to wait too long. Participants that wait too long to apply might have trouble getting accepted, especially if other qualified applicants apply before them. To avoid that, apply within a couple of weeks from the applications’ release date, or at least a few weeks before the applications close.
Pro tip: read over all of your information to ensure accuracy and honesty when applying to avoid conflicts with your application. Also, it helps to apply earlier in your college career rather than later if you know that you want to get the full DCP experience. “Try to apply as early in your college career as possible,” said Florida Atlantic University senior Rebecca Coddington. “That way, there’s more opportunities to apply again if you don’t make it.” If you’re not accepted your first go around, don’t get discouraged. The DCP offers many opportunities to apply, so don’t get caught up comparing your experience to others.
Do Your Research
Luckily, since the DCP has been a universally-loved program for a while, you have access to plenty of resources to help you through your application and interview process. “YouTube was my literal life saver,” said Florida State University sophomore Victoria Cardoso. “There are so many videos talking about the application itself, the web-based interview, and the phone interview.” Some DCP alumni have their phone interviews entirely recorded on YouTube in order to give future participants an idea of what to expect. Also, plenty of DCP vloggers on YouTube film their whole experience – from move-in day to move out. YouTube videos can also give you a great idea of what role might work best for you if you find yourself struggling to choose.
Choosing Your Role
If the YouTube videos don’t narrow down the search for you, trust your gut. “In the application, you’ll be asked to rate your roles from high interest, low interest, to no interest,” said Cardoso. “Even if you choose a role with low interest, you may get the role. Be true to yourself and pick the roles you will enjoy – don’t settle.” Recruiters want to see you have good people skills in any capacity. If you have retail experience, don’t limit yourself to the merchandise role. The experience you have working with customers can still help you in any role, because almost all of the roles involve heavy interactions with guests. Anything from working as a camp counselor to waitressing gives you all of the experience you could possibly need to handle any DCP role.
Advice for the Web-Based Interview
The best advice to remember for the WBI? Answer either “completely agree” or “completely disagree” when applicable. DCP recruiters want to hear firm and decisive answers from their applicants. Show them that you can function well on a team by showing you have solid decision-making skills.
Tips for the Phone Interview
For most people, the phone interview can come off as the most nerve-racking because applicants speak with a DCP recruiter directly for the first time. However, don’t fret. You can prepare in many ways. “Honestly, I just went online and watched YouTube videos of people during their actual interviews to get ideas of questions they asked and how the call would go,” said Coddington. “I looked up questions they could potentially ask and jotted down a couple of bullet points of what I could talk about.” For this interview, bullet points are the best way to go. In other words, don’t write a script. DCP recruiters can tell when applicants don’t seem authentic. “It’s really just a conversation about your favorite place on Earth with someone who’s just as interested in it as you,” said Coddington. “My interviewer was very conversational and it made it easier for me to communicate why I wanted to do the DCP.”
Another great piece of advice for the phone interview: remember to smile. “If you’re smiling while you talk, they can hear it through the phone,” said Coddington. “They want that energy at the parks in order to create better interactions for their guests.” Just like any other interview you go to, remembering your interviewer’s name and addressing them as such is very important. Recruiters love the personalization aspect that makes people feel special – just like at the parks.
If you get a little nervous, don’t worry too much. The recruiters understand. DCP recruiters call thousands of applicants and won’t expect you not to have some nerves about process. “The DCP is a big deal, so they know you’ll be nervous,” said Coddington. “I answered the phone with a shaky voice during my phone interview. But don’t let that overshadow your abilities. Within a minute, I relaxed and got into the groove of the conversation.” When in doubt, don’t aim for perfection, authenticity is key.
During the interview, the recruiter might ask some scenario-based questions referring back to the roles you chose. In these scenarios, remember to put safety of the guests first, while also remembering to give them a magical Disney experience. Remember, when referring to Disney guests, call them guests. You’ll learn later on in your DCP to say “guests” instead of “customers”, but if you have that knowledge under your belt now, it can set you apart from others.
At the end of the phone interview you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, so do it. Ask your interviewer an engaging question—even if it’s just one—to show your interest. “I genuinely think that the question I asked helped me relate to my interviewer more,” said Coddington. “We laughed together, and I really enjoyed his time.” At the end of your call, thank them and tell them to have a magical day, or something Disney-related like that. Recruiters love it.
Once you have these tips and tricks under your belt, your chances of succeeding in your application process will increase, and you’ll get your foot in the door of a large, well-respected company. From gaining experience in your DCP role, you will form connections for professional internships while getting unique work experience and memories to last a lifetime.