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The WDW Disney College Program


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Hello all,

 

I'm a quazi-lurker, I know, but school sadly gets in the way of the fun to be had here. But I have a question for all you guys and gals. Are any of you currently in, or alumni from, the WDW Disney College Program? I've got as much info as Disney will give and already done the presentation and interview, but I've got a bit of an appetite for information about this. During the interview, I specifically noted that I'd like my role to be Operations: Attractions with a preference with the Mansion or the Tower. I know they'll take that in consideration but put me where they need people. For for that, here's crossing my fingers. I'm just curious to see what experiences others have had or what information people could give me. Thanks ya'll!

 

-Stuart "Curiosity killed the cat, you know" Newsom

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Hey there,

 

I did the College Program I guess it was.. two or three years ago. It was the best experience in my life. Just threw whatever I could fit in my car and drove down to FL from PA. Anyways, I was front desk at the Grand Floridian which was an honor in a way because there were only 2 of us there. It definately wasn't easy sometimes... but I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. I still might look into some Advanced internships.

 

I lived at Vista Way. I thought they were really nice places. I had 5 roommates in a 3 BR.. but we all got along for the most part. If you're anything like me and the great friends I made (some of who still work there btw) we spent most of our days off and nights hanging out in the parks or at Cocoa Beach, or at the pools and stuff there so space wasn't really a big issue. Even if all six of us were in the apartment it wasn't bad... we'd just end up betting $10 on Tiger Woods Golf games.

 

I can't really tell you about Disney attractions, but I did work at Islands of Adventure (Dueling Dragons trainer) for a year after my program was up. Tower and Mansion are two of the most requested attractions I'm sure, but I wouldn't worry about things too much.. whats the worse they will give you.. thats right.. It's a Small World.. haha. Just be happy you're not quick service.

 

Anyways like I said it can really test your character sometimes with some long hours and some long weeks, and you aren't going to get rich doing it.. but who cares? you only live once.. and you're working at Disney. You aren't having to worry about housing and all that other crap, so enjoy it! Another great thing is that pretty much everywhere else in the country.. they see Disney on your resume and you're pretty much in..

 

I'll stop rambling about pointless stuff now.. but ask any questions you have.

 

Eric

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Here's some random pictures..

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and graduation!

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we had bad days and got this.. and then went swimming.. and then had even worse days..

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another vista picture.. I forget what "green" is.. stupid Winter

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our building

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Vista Way's pool.. Some people say bad things about Vista.. but I never had a problem..

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Keep in mind you will not know your specific location until you check in down here in FL. Even then you will just know you have (for example) Adventureland/Liberty Square Attractions - you could then be placed in any attraction in that area. You would find out your specific location once you receive your training schedule. The College Program is a lot of fun and working in Operations is great no matter where you work. Just go into it with an open mind and be willing to work in any operations area and you will be fine. PM me if you have any more specific questions.

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Vista Way did seem nice. From what I've seen, which is of course the Disney marketing, the apartments did not seem to be any worse than what I'd have here at the school I attend, so I'm not too worried about that.

 

On the section/job part, I don't know what place I have currently, if I have any at all. I haven't gotten the word on whether or not I've been accepted. But thank you for that heads up, I would not have known and would have been extremely confused when or if I was accepted.

 

I've got a pretty open mind about this. I'm willing to take anything really, though I do have priorities, obviously. This experience, for me, is more a "foot in the door" and learning about the company and I'll take whatever I can get. I've known for a long time that this is the company, and division of the company, I want to work for and some day in the future manage (I'm a Business Administration major, just so ya know) and I see this as a way to get in and see first hand.

 

-Stuart

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I did College Program in the spring of 2000, and was the best decision I ever made about my education. I felt like I learned so much about myself, about how to work with others, how to get along with others, how to be responsible...all stuff that college never came close to teaching me. Plus, I had a blast! I worked at Disney World for a semester! I'd do it again in a heartbeat, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about doing it! Even if you get there and hate it, you will at least have had the experience!

 

You can look at my WDWCP scrapbook here : http://www.fyabulous.com/scrapbook/

 

When I was hired, I was originally hired for food service. Not my first choice (not even in my top 3 choices) but I decided to go ahead and take it since I was excited about the opportunity to move away for 4 months and work at Disney. Well, once I got there, a scheduling mix up landed me in attractions, which was fantastic! I was originally hired for Pure and Simple in Wonders of Life, but when I showed up for my first day of training and there had been no trainer scheduled that day, they put me with a Universe of Energy trainer! I still think I would have had a good time working in food service, but I truly loved where I ended up working!

 

I was also told that Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise were the two most requested work locations, and attractions was *by far* the most requested role, so don't be disappointed if that's not what you get. Most of the people I knew had a great time no matter what their locations.

 

If you have any specifi questions, please feel free to PM me!

 

-Julie

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I'm actually writing from Chatham Square, one of the two apartment complexes (besides International like Soren). I'm currently on my second program.

 

My first program I was in Operations at the Living Seas and a Soarin' Greeter. When I first was told I was going to work the Living Seas, I was disappointed because I had no idea what it was, but it ended up being one of the best attractions to work! The experience of your job also comes from those you work with and what you make of it. You can be one of those CPs that complain day in and day out and have an overall bad experience because you cause it to be that.

 

This program I'm in Entertainment. I'm absolutely in love with my job. I get to make kids days and interact in ways that some people cannot. Soon I should be in training for parades and shows!

 

The housing is very nice. I'd highly suggest Chatham Square over Vista Way. People from Vista are always coming over and get jealous of our apartments.

 

About the overall experience...obviously I enjoyed myself if I'm back on my second program. You learn a lot both in a professional means as well as getting to learn more about yourself. You really do return home changed, for the good hopefully. Some people are unable to change because they are so set in their bad means, but some can grow and learn. You'll learn by those you live with, make friends with, and where you work.

 

Its a wonderful experience. I should be going full time with the company after my program ends in August and working towards in-state tuition.

 

If you have any questions you are more than welcome to post here or simply PM me. I'll do my best to answer them for you!

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I REALLY wish someone had posted this thread earlier I actually heard about this briefly some time ago during a presentation at school. I was SO tempted to do it and go for a ride op or a job in the steelband. Unfortunately, my common sence led me to sign up for normal colleges At least Camden is only 5 miles from Marshall But seriously, my grandparents live in fricken Naples. I could practically live in Florida for that if I wanted...

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Me and my friend were thinking of doing this as well. We wanted to start this September, but we found it late and missed the interviews. We are definitely are going to do it next year! I am going to college for Business Management. My family owns a pizza shop here that is very successful but I want to get into something different. I want to do this internship to get a better understanding of hotels, attractions, etc.

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Jack - I felt the same way as you. I was dying to find out more about the college programme. My Interview didnt go 2 well but in the end I got in... However I didnt get the job I wanted. I was gutted. After speaking to the alumni members and looking at Julies lovely website , I figured, Its an experience you'll never forget.

 

Im not in Orlando Yet ( 7 weeks 2moro!!) But having just recieved my welcome pack, I know its going to be ana amazing Summer.

 

There are alot of negative things flying around about the programme, but Im a firm believer that you gotta try things for yourself before judging.

 

I think you should go for it!

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This is a wonderul thread. I've been looking into the internship at WDW for a while now since I'm a *takes long breath* Recreation Professional with a concentration in Commercial Recreation and Tourism major at my school. I'll most likely do it as soon as next semester, or the semester after that.

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From my understanding of the program, it most certainly can. They have classes they offer that can be brought into your program as college credits when you return. The classes are offered only for the cost of materials. The classes themselves are complementary, so to speak. However, I am looking into this Fall Advantage program and they told me not to take more than three classes for the about 6 month period. So they seem to be pretty intense.

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At my college I used it for my Directed Field Experience (AKA Internship) and got 16 credits for going to FL and working at Disney! Of course that's rare. Worse comes to worse you can take some of the classes they have there (which are actually accredited classes.. there's like Speech Communication, some business ones.. etc).

 

Aside from that, apparently Disney is having a hard time recruiting enough people lately.. so even if you're worried about not making it for some reason.. they'll hire anyone that shows interest, has the Disney look, and isn't an ass.

 

Eric

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Well, I havent submitted all my fees yet for Marshall. The question is:

Get a major in random forms of art (so that I can make advertisements etc for parks) and learn Japanese while being in pwnage steelband, or work at an amusement park as a ride op or steelband member? Its just too close....Any suggestions?

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My advice for anyone planning on doing the program is not to limit themself with what they want to do. Everyone wants to do attractions, or work front desk, or be a character, etc. Even if you don't, you can still have a great time and learn a lot about the field you are planning to go into. For me, I actually changed my major when I returned as result of networking and talking to various people while there. But like I said its up to you...

 

Don't expect them to just give you everything when it comes to contacts, job offers, etc. They give you the basics and opportunities, but its up to you to take advantage of it!

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I've been following this topic with great interest the past few days. There are a lot of things to consider when committing to an internship, regardless of whether it's Disney or any other company, and a lot of those topics have already been addressed. However, you are missing one very important point of view, and that's where I come in. I am a full time entry level manager for the Attractions/Operations Line of Business at Walt Disney World. Before I dispense my advice, let me give you my personal College Program success story.

 

I was on the College Program in 2002 as a Custodial Host. Disney was my top choice company to work for after college, so I treated the program as a seven month test and adjust period to see how I liked living and working in Florida. Turns out I liked it a lot, and by the end of my program I knew that I wanted to return as a manager. I left on excellent terms and kept in frequent contact with my managers when I returned home. I was set to graduate in May 2004, but in October 2003 (10 months after my program ended) I received a phone call from my old manager asking me if I would like to be in the first group of Management Interns starting in January 2004. I was thrilled at the invitation, but told him I had one semester of school left and needed to finish that out before moving back. He understood, and promised to keep me in mind for the second group if the first one was a success. It was, and in May 2004 I relocated to Florida to start my Management Internship. When that ended in January 2005 I was extended into a TS (temporary salaried) management position for another six months. I left the company for six weeks during the summer of 2005 for personal reasons, but returned in late July into yet another TS management position. In October 2005 I was promoted to a full time management role and that's where I am today.

 

Now, my situation is somewhat unique, because I've had an unbelievable streak of good luck when it comes to timing in my Disney career. But that aside, there are some very specific things you can do to position yourself into a Disney career after your College Program ends. I deal with CPs every day looking to do exactly that, and here's what I tell them:

 

1. Have a clear goal. If you know you want to work for Disney as a career, pick out the job you want as soon as possible. Once you know what you want to do, you can work backwards. Talk to people already in that position, figure out what they did to get there, and put their advice to work in your own life.

 

2. Obviously, it's much easier to talk to people working at Disney when YOU also work at Disney. That's where the College Program comes in. There are two tiers to the College Program: the regular Internships, which are very well known, and the Professional Internships, which are not as well known. There are two types of Professional Internships: Advanced and Management. Advanced Internships pay anywhere from $2 to $6 more per hour than the standard College Program internships. You can learn a lot in your six months, but on the down side, it can be very difficult to segway from an Advanced Internship to a full time job with the company. Most Advanced Interns are only needed for the 6 months that they are here, and then they have to go back to a regular full time/part time job. This can mean taking a pay cut. Management Internships are salaried, and they have a much greater potential of transitioning to a full time management position. That was the route that I took. For more information about the different types of internships, check out Disney's official site www.disneyinterns.com.

 

3. Take control. Disney provides a lot of opportunities for the College Program cast, but we will not serve them to you on a silver platter. If you're serious about staying on with Disney after your program ends, treat it like a real job hunt. Schedule time to meet with your managers and ask them about opportunties. Visit the Disney Learning Center and take full advantage of the resources available to you. And most importantly, speak up! Gone are the days when management would take notice of you just for showing up and doing a good job. If you want something, you need to ask for it. Don't expect your manager to read your mind. Request a meeting with them, show up on time for it, and tell them about your goals. If your immediate manager is won't help you, find another one who will. Ask your friends if they have good managers, and see if they would be willing to meet with you, even though you are not in their immediate department. Don't stop until you find someone who will listen to you and help you achieve your goals.

 

4. Conduct yourself with the utmost professionialism at all times. If your ultimate goal is to be a manager at Disney, act with the same integrity you would if you were already in that position. There are a lot of opportunities to goof off on the College Program. Don't do it. I'm not saying don't have fun and behave like a kid, but there is a time and a place for everything. When you are at work, act they way you want your managers to perceive you. If you consistently show up late wearing the wrong shoes and get caught on unauthorized breaks, your mangers are going to have a hard time picturing you in a role with more responsibility.

 

5. Finally, remember that not all professional connections are made in an office setting. The people who quickly rise to the top of their careers are the ones who use every opportunity to network. Waiting for the Magic Kingdom bus and an executive looking type sits down next to you? Compliment on them on their tie (or shoes if it's a woman, that always works!) If they barely glance over at you, back off. But if they smile and continue the conversation, take advantage of it! Just remember not to treat every encounter as an interview. Establish a relationship with them first, and wait until the second or third time you talk to them to ask for any favors. The easiest way to do this is to ask for their business card and request permission to contact them with further questions. Then send them a handwritten note thanking them for taking the time to talk with you. When you do need a favor, they'll remember who you are and be much more inclined to help you. And remember, details are important! If they tell you their dog's name, write that down on the back of their business card (after they're out of sight of course!). Keep all your contact information in one place and review it periodically. When you run into them three months later and ask about their dog by name they'll be blown away!

 

Good luck to each of you in your future career adventures!

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If I had to add one more point, it would be that Disney isn't the end all be all of all that is good and just on planet earth.

 

It is very tempting to get into what I call "American Idol syndrome" where people think that one shot is the only chance they will ever have at success. If you should do the program, you will have great experiences, but don't let that limit you to thinking that Disney is the only way to success.

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