The Application Process, Round 1

Getting into Disney is hard and easy all at the same time. And no, I’m not talking about a teenage boy. I’m talking about the entire application process as a whole. It’s easy because they accept hundreds of college students who express a genuine excitement about the company. It’s difficult because thousands apply and they are all genuinely excited about the company. It’s easy because there are so many tips and tricks online about what position to apply for and what to say in interviews. It’s hard because literally everyone is reading the same results from the same Google search about the tips and tricks of applying and interviewing.

See the dilemma?

The Disney College Program has three rounds of applying and interviewing before you are accepted or not. After the initial application that gets your name in the system, there is a web-based interview. Assuming you get through steps one and two, there is then a scheduled phone interview, which is definitely the most daunting of the three. After the third round of the application and interview process, you just have to wait, which is arguably just as bad as the phone interview itself. However, all that stress and waiting is completely worth it when you get the “Congratulations” email while out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant with your mom and then you start crying in said restaurant because you’re so happy and just don’t know what to do with your hands. (That last part may or may not happen to you, but just know that it’s very hard not to scream and jump up and down in a public place, because that’s apparently frowned upon for a 21-year-old but completely acceptable for a 3-year-old… but that’s a different story. Moral of this story: check your email in a private place until you hear back from Disney. It’s just better for all parties involved.)

So now that you know what you’re in for, let me tell you what you’re actually in for.

Round 1: The Application

Out of all the times I obsessively searched for tips and tricks for the application process, there were some about the web-based interview while most were about the phone interview. There weren’t any about the initial application, though, and I feel like that definitely needs to be addressed. I applied for the DCP a total of 3 times. I always said I wanted to go second semester of my senior year (which I am) because I knew I wouldn’t want to go back to school after a semester at Disney (also, I hate winter and I wanted to be in Orlando for the dreaded months of January-May because Midwestern winters are seriously the worst). I wanted to get practice applying though, just in case I didn’t get in the first time, because I didn’t want to wait for the last opportunity of my college career and not get it, because that would be devastating to me. My first piece of advice: apply early, apply often. Even if you don’t think it’s the right timing or you don’t want to go that specific semester, it’s a good idea to understand the application itself, because it’s tricky and it’s scary. But how else would Disney be able to weed out who they really want out of the thousands of applicants that are all pretty similar people? Don’t make it so you only have one shot to apply, because you’re going to put a lot of pressure on yourself and be that much more nervous.

All three times I applied, I made it through this first round. I’m assuming almost everyone does, which is why there is no real advice about this round. You fill out basic information–name, school, major, what year you are, things like that. Then they ask what position you’re applying for and this is where you should actually start paying attention. Ah, finally she has a point. The first time I applied, I put high interest on maybe one or two positions, moderate interest on a few more, low interest on maybe two or three, and then no interest for the rest. I figured that was okay because I wasn’t actually wanting to get into the program at that time, so I had more limited options. I got an email back within a few hours saying that there were positions opened that aligned with what I had chosen and the next step was the web-based interview. But then I didn’t get through round 2 and my application ended there. The same thing happened the second time I applied, with the exception of maybe putting moderate interest for a few more. Once again, I received an email shortly after applying saying that I made it through and then failed once again in the web-based interview section. This was a little more heartbreaking because I knew then that I would only have one more chance to apply for Disney.

Third time’s a charm though, because I made it all the way through. I think what really helped me the third time was pulling out all the stops. And that’s where Tip #2 comes in: don’t limit yourself in the positions you apply for. The third time I applied, I put high interest on my top five choices and moderate interest on almost all the rest, with a low interest in maybe two things and no interest in janitorial and housekeeping, because those were the two in my mind that I just would not be able to do, even if I was at Disney. In the first two times I applied, I had limited the positions I would be willing to do and that combined with the round 2 answers, I was eliminated. You have to remember that at this point in the application, there is no human being on the other end of this. This is all computer-related and your answers are compared to what they’re looking for and if you don’t have something similar, you’re out. So remember that all the application and interview parts go together, even though they seem like three separate things. I would definitely recommend putting as many options as you could, because remember this is Disney after all, it’s probably worth it. (Except cleaning toilets and trash. I can barely do that in my own room, let alone in a theme park. Just no. Sorry to all of you that get this job. Or really, more power to you for doing something that I couldn’t. Best wishes to you.)

However, you don’t want to go around willy-nilly and put high interest in every option, because they WILL ask you about it in the phone interview if you get that far and you’ll have to answer specific questions about what each job entails. More about that in my Phone Interview post. So Tip #3: research EVERY job description so you know what you want and you know what they’re asking of you. It’s all clear in their website and you can easily Google what other people have said to see what you want to do for an entire semester.

Tip #4: Make sure you apply when you have free time in the following days. This is SUPER important because they email you back almost immediately after you submit your application. When you get your first “congratulations” email saying they’re interested in you, you have 24 hours to complete your web-based interview. So don’t apply when you know you won’t have computer access for the few days after because their offer expires and then you can’t re-apply until the following semester. I didn’t know this the first time I applied so when I received their 24-hour response email, I was in class all the next day and had to do the web-based interview on my phone right before giving a speech in that class. It was stressful and probably on of the reasons why I didn’t get through that round. So just give yourself a few buffer days so you can really focus on round 2.

And lastly, apply when applications are made public. This is usually the end of August/early September for applying for the spring and early January when applying for the fall semester. The earlier you reply, the quicker you will hear back and the less time you have to spend playing the waiting game.

Then, you’re on to Round 2: The Web-Based Interview.

Best of luck and just remember YOU CAN DO IT! Let me know how your application experience goes or if you have any questions I can answer!

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