Disney International College Program 2013
Well, it’s official: from May 14th – August 2nd this summer, I will be working full time in Disney World as a character performer!
This sweet gig was introduced to me online through Disney’s website. I decided to enter my resume online to the Canadian recruiters in November. When December rolled around, I received an email saying the Canadian recruiter liked my resume and wanted to set up a phone interview with me. I gave her a time and date that worked, and researched all the usual Disney questions they tended to ask.
The morning of my phone interview, I over slept my alarm, and woke up to the sound of my cell phone ringing as the recruiter was calling. I answered half asleep, and tried my best to answer her questions, standard things like “Why do you want to work for Disney?” and “how would you handle long hours in the Florida heat?” I thought for sure I had failed miserably at this stage, being half asleep and all. Turns out, about a week later, I received another email saying I had passed the phone interview, and was invited to meet face-to-face with the Disney recruiters for an interview in Toronto in January!
I decided to spend the money on flights to Toronto for this one chance to potentially be hired by Disney. It also gave me an excuse to visit my Dad and the family there. I flew in a few days before, and the morning of the interview we drove through a freezing rain storm and rush hour to get there 45 minutes late. So far my experience wasn’t shaping up to be quite as positive as I’d hoped. But they still let me have my interview, and after waiting for a few hours, they called me in.
The first thing we discussed was my Cheshire Cat pin that I had on my business blazer jacket. I thought it was a nice touch to the business attire situation. The standard questions were applied, touching on my degree and its relevance to Disney, what jobs I’d like to do there and what work experience I’ve had in the past. Lastly they measured my height (5′ 2″ haha!), since I expressed a great interest in character performance. The whole interview lasted about eight minutes, which was short in comparison to a lot of others.
The waiting game commenced after that. I returned to Victoria hoping for the news quickly. A few days later, I woke up early in the morning on Saturday. I figured it was still too early to hear anything, and it wasn’t a business day, but I’d check my email any ways. I noticed I had one new email, and decided to see what it was. Sure enough, it was from the recruiters saying congratulations, I was being offered a job as a character performer!
BAM. That was my process. Now to explain what exactly this job is!
The Disney International College program is a chance for university/college students to work in Disney World at entry level jobs. They house you on Disney property, taking weekly rent from your paycheque, but this includes everything you could ever need except food (gyms, swimming pools, furniture, utensils!). You also get free entrance into the parks whenever you so feel the need, as well as merchandise and certain food discounts. The college program also includes a learning component, where you can take courses through Disney on business aspects, languages, leadership, etc. They bring in executives from the business for workshops, as well as host monthly events for program participants.
The entry level jobs don’t pay very well, but most people aren’t in it to make a lot of money. The jobs include fast food, merchandise, attractions, janitorial, costuming, and character workers.
I was lucky enough to get a character performer position. Apparently thousands of students applied this year in Canada alone, only around 120 people were interviewed face-to-face, and somewhere around 80 people were hired. Character performers aren’t hired in large quantities like merchandise. They have specific height requirements, and are a sought after position. We don’t find out who we get to be until we go in for training, but whoever I am assigned I might have to practice signing their signature autographs without looking. Also, it gets so hot in Florida that shifts usually last 20 minutes in costume, with 40 minutes on break in between. I’m hoping to get the White Rabbit, Kuzco, one of the seven dwarfs, or Winnie the Pooh!
By the end of the program, we get a little graduation, and many exciting memories. This is probably the greatest thing to ever happen in my life, and is truly my dream job. I am so very lucky to have received this opportunity, and do not wish to take it for granted. I’ve had a rough year, and worked really hard to get where I am in my life today. I hope this experience is just the start of positive karma coming my way!