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International College Program Series: Interviews

I’m going to cover some tips for your interview if you’re applying for the Disney International Program, or College Program. My experience was with a personal interview for the program.

As I understand it, for the domestic College Program you sign up online and then there’s a phone interview afterwards. For the most part, with the international program, the recruiters travel to a city, do a presentation and then interview the applicants after. My interview was in Dunedin, New Zealand.

For that year, because of the Christchurch earthquake, there was no presentation at Canterbury Uni, so everyone from Christchurch traveled to Dunedin for their interview, making it more packed than usual.

Jeni Masden is the recruiter for Australia/New Zealand. She started by presenting about the program and talking about what you do, what your pay rate is and the types of roles you may get.

She does emphasise that this is not a job you save in. I cannot stress that enough. I will get paid around USD$6,000 this year, which is technically below the poverty line. However, your housing has fairly decent rent, and if you use the CP busses, your transport to work, Walmart and the Mall is free.

So keep that in mind and don’t be like many people who spend a whole lot of money sorting visas and everything to get here and then leave, disgusted with the “pittance” we’re paid. The most expensive two-week holiday ever.

My interview was the next day at 10.00am at Otago University. Because I went to a tourism college, we all wore our uniform suits to the presentation (we all looked like either flight attendants or travel agents) and then again to the interview the next day. I’m not sure if they normally do the interviews the same day or not, so it’s probably best you dress up for both just in case.

For the interview I wore a flower in my hair. Nothing over the top, but noticeable. I wanted my interviewer to be able to look at my resume after I left and remember something about me, because they had a lot of people to see.

It’s handy if you have an “about me” spiel ready to go. I have one for every job interview I go to, because the first question nine times out of ten is “so, [INSERT NAME HERE], tell me about yourself.” They’re not actually interested. They just want to see how you’ll respond “off the cuff”. So have a practiced speech around 20 seconds about you. It can be where you grew up, what you studied and what your hobbies are, which gives them your personal and educational or professional background and then a little insight as to who you are. For example, mine is something like…

I was born in Sydney, Australia and my family moved to Queenstown, New Zealand when I was sixteen. I studied Japanese at Otago University and Tourism at Sir George Seymour College. I enjoy travel, writing and art and discovering new things.

So have a practice at home. Get friends to ask you at random times “tell me about yourself” until you can remember a few points without it sounding like a recording. For the application form, I ticked every box available for jobs. I really didn’t care what role I did for a year; I just wanted to go.

If you’re enthusiastic about one role in particular, tell them! My recruiter seemed keen on me doing lifeguarding. Which, let me tell you, you do not want your child’s life in my hands. Ever. But I told him that it would be a new challenge for me and I loved challenges. As it turns out, I got Merch and Vacation Planning, which was great.

Just be yourself at the interview. This is probably one of the only interviews where you can’t be too bubbly, so if that’s you, don’t tone it down! Disney is all about the pixie dust and magic for everyone, so the more pixie dust you throw around, the more fun you’ll have!

Take a copy of your CV. They probably already have one that you gave them yesterday, but it’s always good to have a backup.

After the interview, you’ll have to wait a while to get a reply. I remember mine being at least a month before I heard anything. I’m not sure if they contact you to say you didn’t get in or not, but pretty much everyone gets their emails at the same time.

Once you get that acceptance email, start your paperwork! And remember to reply to their email accepting their offer! Your journey has started!

Disney, International College Program Info

College Program: Making (and saving) Money

  1. Open a bank account!
    If you don’t have one in the US already, open a bank account as soon as possible. The easiest one will probably with Partners Federal Credit Union. There’s a branch at Disney University and a smaller one at Epcot Cast Services. This means you have the ability to store your money securely (I found the default Citibank card very unsafe and annoying; they were hit with card fraud a number of times and they were incredibly hard to contact — I never spoke to a real person when dealing with them) and also tuck your savings away in a savings account. Read through the terms and conditions of signing up, and you’ll need to put in about $30 to get you started.
  2. Buy at Property Control!
    Across the parking lot from West Clock is Disney Property Control. This is where old and damaged products go to die. There’s one side for stock that they want to get rid of, undamaged at a significant discount. Then the other side is for damaged or unsellable items. And trust me, at Disney, some things you wouldn’t find a problem are unsellable. You can also buy basics like fruit, milk, giant loaves of bread… you name it!
  3. Have a talent.
    Ok this one is rough if you don’t have one that’s marketable. I’m one of those people. How many times have I wished during this year I had practiced drawing more so that I could take commissions?! But yeah, if you’re able, open up commissions on Deviantart or something and that might get you a Christmas Party ticket or something…
  4. Don’t drive everywhere.
    I guarantee you, about a month into your program, you will become disillusioned with the bus service. I heard people complaining about it when I first got here and swore I wouldn’t be that person. But I am. Because it sucks sometimes. They’re late, they leave early, they pass your stop, they pull away as you bang on the door, they break down, they’re slow, you name it. But they’re free. I work at Epcot, which is the quickest bus route. It goes straight from Vista to Epcot cast services and then back to Chatham and the Commons before Vista again. The trip from Vista to Epcot takes about 20 mins, 15 is your bus driver is enthusiastic. But I know so many people who drive to work every day. The worst part of the day is if you live at Vista and have to wait about 40 mins to get home. Which is nothing compared to commutes I’ve made in the past! So save the gas for a trip to the Keys.
  5. Picnic at the parks
    Disney food is ridiculously expensive. When you go to an actual normal restaurant after dining at Disney, everything seems so cheap. So instead of getting a quick service meal every time you go to the parks, eat before you go and pack snacks or a lunch to have with you. You’re allowed to take food and drinks in, no problem!
  6. Sign up for extra hours/extend
    On the hub, you can sign up for extra hours by going to the labor service centre under the work tab. If you don’t have much to do that week, sign up and see how many hours you can get. Another option is to extend your shifts. This is hard to do if you work a lot of closing shifts (and CP does stand for Close Parks as everyone knows…) but whenever you can, do it. While we may not get the 6th day premium, if you work more than 8 hours in the day or 40 hours in the week, every hour is overtime, depending on your location.

More coming soon…