I can still remember the day that I first heard about the Disney College Program. I was fourteen years old and had just returned home from my first trip to Walt Disney World in over twelve years. Needless to say, I had fallen in love with it. Every moment had been memorable, and it was easy to see why they called it the most magical place on Earth. That week had been one of the best ones in my life, and even though I had left the parks, I didn’t want the magic to end. I suddenly found myself reading every article, book, and blog post about the company and the parks that I could get my hands on, and I slowly became even more fascinated with it. (In fact, it would later lead me to choose Interior Design as my major.)
But even though I was doing quite a bit of reading, it was awhile until I stumbled upon a blog post that mentioned the program. I remember staring at the words, confused by their meaning. I had never heard of the Disney College Program before. I quickly opened up another tab and typed in the fateful words.
The rest is history.
I was instantly hooked by the program and all of the opportunities it could provide me. I mean, the opportunity to live, work, and learn at the same place I had just spent one of the best weeks of my life? There was no doubt about it. I wanted to do the program.
There was only one problem: I was fourteen years old, and the Disney College Program (DCP) was only for college students. I still had four years before I could even begin to consider applying.
That time flew by and crawled agonizingly slow at the same time. Before I knew it, I was officially a college student, the one thing I had been waiting years for. Even though I had wanted to go to college long before learning about the DCP, the opportunity to work at Disney was definitely a bonus, and for years I had told myself that I would apply for the program the first opportunity I had.
Needless to say, it didn’t work out like that.
Once I started my 1st semester, I realized that I should at least have a full year of college under my belt before applying. (Not a requirement, just a personal preference.) Plus, the Fall program was my first choice, so I skipped over the opportunity to apply for the Spring 2017 program.
But then I hit another roadblock: I had decided to transfer schools, beginning with the Fall 2017 semester. I didn’t want to do the DCP while in the process of transferring schools.
So I waited another semester.
When the Spring 2018 applications rolled out, it hurt me to not be applying; after all, this was the first chance I had without anything major preventing me from doing the program. But at the same time, I knew that the Fall program was my first choice, and that (once again) I wanted a full year at my new school under my belt before participating in the program. After all, I had just applied for official admission into my major (which required a separate application and a “test” semester in the classes before official admission); I couldn’t leave after just a semester. So I decided to wait again.
Believe me when I say that passing up the opportunity to apply for the Spring semester hurt like a punch to the gut.
But at long last, it was time.
On January 22, 2018, the applications for the Fall and Fall Advantage 2018 programs officially dropped. Needless to say, I was ecstatic; I had waited years to be able to apply, so waiting to get home so I could actually begin my application was agony. (I was in classes all morning and afternoon.) When I got home that evening, I immediately rushed to the computer, opened the website, and pressed the button I had been waiting to press for over 6 years: Apply Now.
“I immediately rushed to the computer…and pressed the button I had been waiting to press for over 6 years: Apply Now.”
The first part of the application process was pretty simple: I just filled out an application, detailed my work experience, the roles I wanted to be considered for, and the other pieces of information that you would expect to see on a job application.
After reviewing my work, I submitted it, eagerly waiting to see whether I would be granted a Web-Based Interview (WBI), the second part of the application process; after all, not all applicants would get past the application stage. A little over an hour later, an email popped up on my phone’s notifications saying that I had been invited to do a WBI. I was over the moon with excitement.
While I was happy that I had received my WBI, I was also terrified. Of the entire application process (which consists of the application, the web-based interview, and the phone interview), the WBI was the stage I was most scared of. After all, job applications were pretty straight-forward, and I had never been scared of a job interview ever since acing the one from my job at a police station, when my interviewer had been the police captain (talk about intimidating!). Web-based interviews on the other hand? I was terrified.
That’s why I waited as long as I could stand before I did it…a whole 30 minutes. Yeah, I know that’s not long, but I had been waiting 6 years to apply, so waiting longer than that was just too much to ask.
Trying to do my WBI was an adventure in itself. I had read several blog posts that said to do the WBI on a home computer, not a laptop, in case the WiFi connection goes out. Unfortunately, my family’s home computer was next to the TV, which my sister was using to watch IT. She refused to pause it or watch it on her laptop so I could use the computer for my WBI, no matter how much I asked. After all, I needed happy thoughts when doing my interview, not creepy clowns and scary music on a television less than 3 feet from my head.
Needless to say, I relented and did my WBI on my laptop in a different room.
Like I had expected, the WBI scared me to bits. It took me 40 minutes, and I could feel my fear building with each question I timed out on. Although I was doing my best and answering the questions as accurately as possible, I was worried that I would mess up and fail, and would suddenly have to wait another semester before I could apply again. I would immediately know at the end of the questionnaire whether I had passed or not, and if I failed I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
That’s why I almost cried when I finished and saw that I had been invited to do a phone interview.
I immediately logged onto my dashboard and looked at the interview times available. By that time it was late Monday night and there were interview slots available as early as Thursday and Friday. I chose an early morning slot on the Friday, knowing it would be better to get it out of the way as early as possible; I didn’t want to worry about it any longer than necessary.
In theory, I had 3 days to prepare for my interview, but in reality I had been preparing for years. I had read the blog posts and watched the videos. I knew the process inside and out. I spent an hour practicing questions with my friends over the phone, wrote out ideas for answers, and met with my school’s career office to discuss interview tips. I was ready.
Friday finally came, and I was a ball of nerves as I got ready that morning. Forty-five minutes before my scheduled interview time, I sat down at my desk with my notes in front of me and a mirror by my side, a note taped on it reminding me to smile. I knew that my interviewer could call me 15 minutes before or after my scheduled time, so I had plenty of time to calm down and relax.
The minutes ticked by. Soon it was 15 minutes before my interview time. 10 minutes. 5 minutes. 0 minutes. No call. Another five minutes went by, and I began to get nervous. The minutes continued to tick by, and I wondered if I had looked at the interview time right, if I had put in the correct phone number on my application. I knew I had triple-checked everything before submitting, but maybe I overlooked something.
Then my phone began to ring–10 minutes after my scheduled time–and I stared at it in awe.
This was it.
This was the moment I had been waiting over 6 years for.
I let it ring one more time, took a deep breath, and answered it.
The interview went smoothly, even though there were a few mishaps. (why, Why, WHY did I pronounce my interviewer’s name wrong at the end?!?!) Although I knew that each applicant’s phone interview would be different, I was still surprised when I got off the phone and saw that the call had only been 10 minutes long, much shorter than what most applicants reported their interview times as being. Now there was nothing for me to do except wait.
Believe me, there is nothing worse then waiting.
On February 9th, a few offers went out to test the system, and on February 12th, the first big “wave” of acceptances went out. Even though the recruiters had made it clear that it was mostly Fall Advantage (FA) offers going out, and I had selected Fall as my first choice, I still had a good feeling about the day. I was sure that I was going to receive my email.
I know that sounds petty. After all, it was only the first day of the waves and I still had weeks to hear back. No news was better than bad news, as it was often quoted in the DCP Facebook groups. But in truth, my anxiety really getting to me. I just wanted to get it over with, to know whether I had gotten in or not. I didn’t want to stress about it anymore.
The next day was February 13th, every detail of which has been engraved into my memory. Even though it was the first big wave of Fall acceptances, I just didn’t have the same feeling about that day as I had the previous one. After lunch my stomach began to hurt and I began to feel sick, but I couldn’t go home or even just sit down and rest because I was on a field trip.
When the field trip ended, I went to my car and finally sat down. I pulled out my phone, which I couldn’t look at during class, and saw that I had an email notification. I had hoped to videotape my reaction, but at that point I just didn’t think that this would be the email. Not this early. Not today. There was no point in getting my camera out. I wasn’t going to psych myself out for nothing.
But magic must be real, and it must come at a time when we need it the most, because when I opened up my inbox and saw the word “Congratulations” in the subject line, my whole day turned around; I had waited over 6 years for this day, and my dream had finally come true. A wave of excitement and adrenaline hit me, and suddenly I didn’t feel sick anymore. Instead, I was jumping out of my car and yelling for my friends (who were walking to their cars), and suddenly we were all crying and laughing and hugging each other, just thrilled to bits. The dream that I had been working towards for over 6 years had finally come true.
I had been dreaming about getting my DCP acceptance for years, and although the day didn’t quite go the way I always thought it would, I wouldn’t have it any other way: surrounded by friends in the parking lot of a wall textile manufacturing plant.
Tomorrow morning I’ll be leaving for Florida to begin this new adventure in my life, so be sure to follow along on my Disney journey by following the blog, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and my YouTube channel!