This is my FIRST of many Disney related blog posts and I’m so excited. By the time you’re reading this, I’ve had check in, Traditions, and started my position as a Costuming Buyer! I had a bunch of you ask for “inside secrets” of Disney, but I can’t reveal these or else I would get fired. That being said, I’m going to tell YOU how you can work for Disney as a Professional Intern too!
I’m going to be honest, I’ve loved Disney my whole life but who doesn’t?! I grew up obsessed with The Little Mermaid wondering how I could grow a tail of my own. As I grew up, this love turned into a heartfelt need to keep Disney close to my heart through amazing soundtracks and awesome movies! That’s one reason I thought it would be a magical experience to be able to work for the company.
I was accepted as a professional intern WITHOUT perviously doing a college program which I thought was crazy. Turns out, there are quite a few people like me! Throughout the rest of this post, I’m going to tell you how I became a PI and how you can too! I’ll go through my entire Disney Professional Internship timeline and go through some Disney Professional Internships FAQ.
Tip: MAKE SURE TO PRINT OUT THE JOB DESCRIPTIONS OF ALL POSITIONS YOU’VE APPLIED TO! Keep them handy for interviews.
Disney Professional Internship Application & Phone Interview Process
Now for my degree – Fashion Merchandising/Apparel Design – my last twelve credit hours are reserved for an internship! It has to be completed after all of your other courses (yes this is stressful) and it MUST be full-time.
I started looking into potential positions in about June 2018 before my senior year began. This was because I knew applications for Spring 2019 would open the summer (or early fall) beforehand. This proved to be DUMB because it just meant I was stressing two months early (more like three) for no reason.
Disney Professional Internship applications opened in very late August (I looked every single day). I looked through the entire list of Disney Professional internships, but the first position I applied to was on August 22nd! I ended up applying to eight more after that too. You’re probably like EIGHT??!!! Yes eight. Some Communications Majors are able to apply to 20+ (AND THEY DO).
The good thing about Professional Internships is that they are open in all seasons! There are Disney internships in the summer that are JUST for Alumni of the Disney College Program, but that’s not the case here! That being said, a lot of people ask “How hard it is to get a Disney Professional Internship?” Well, the acceptance rate is around 1%-3%, so for most roles it’s very hard. SELL ALL OF YOUR SKILLS Y’ALL!
Apply to as many positions as you can because it won’t be held against you! The only thing that can happen is you’ll be NLIC’d (No Longer In Consideration) which happened to me FIVE times before I got an offer. That being said, I got pinged for an initial phone screen for my current PI in LESS THAN 24 HOURS. I applied on August 30th and got emailed about a phone screen on August 31st.
What you Need for the Application Process:
To begin, I want to explain everything you’re ALLOWED to add to your profile on Disney Jobs. Check them out below:
1. Up to Five Resumes
2.Up to Five Cover Letters
3. Letter(s) of Recommendation
4. Unofficial Transcript (this is often required, it was for me)
6. Tech Sample
7. Writing Sample
These are all very important! Some are more important to your specific role than others. That being said, everyone who applies NEEDS to add a resume and cover letter (if you want to be successful)! I personally added two resumes (one job different based on the position) and FIVE cover letters (all for the positions I felt most confident about).
1. Your Resume
If you don’t have a resume, WRITE ONE. Even if you have never worked a job in your life, make sure to add volunteer experiences, sorority/fraternity positions, and any club roles you held! I have a whole post on How to Create a Killer Resume linked (here). Make sure you use a professional template like this one (here).
One rule of thumb is to ALWAYS keep your resume on one page. I’ve taken two professional development classes in the last six months and have heard from recruiters who all say this. If it IS over a page, I’m not saying it’ll disqualify you.
A good idea is to add a link to your LinkedIn page (I did this) at the top of your resume. That way they can see all of your other job experiences PLUS your skills, volunteering, and more about you. I actually have a post on How to Get the Most out of LinkedIn linked (here)!
2. Your Cover Letter
Cover letters are extremely important even if they’re “optional.” With anything professional you’ll have people tell you “oh you need this” “oh no that’s wrong you shouldn’t do that.” ALWAYS go above and beyond because even if it’s optional, what if it’s against you and one other candidate and they see that you’ve taken the time to write a cover letter? Guess who looks more hard working?! YOU!
I know that Disney reads cover letters. I also know that they have an automated system that will kick your profile out of a position automatically if you don’t use enough buzz words. What are buss words? Buzz words are words that are stated directly in the job description.
Make sure to ALWAYS throw in a couple of these. If they mention that they want a candidate who can use Sharepoint, HIGHLIGHT that skill. Make sure to elaborate on a time that you’ve used it before or a situation in the workplace that it came in handy.
3. Letter(s) of Recommendation
Letters of Recommendation are by far not a necessity. My personal philosophy is that the more you can show to a recruiter, the better! You can have a killer resume, but if you have no one to back up your experience then it’s basically just words.
I added a professional AND an educational reference (from a previous manager and a previous professor) to my application file section on Disney Careers. This demonstrated that I not only have a good work ethic in the classroom, but that I can also translate that into a job.
A good rule of thumb for letters of recommendation is to make sure NOT to use family members. It’s really easy to do a quick Facebook/social media search to see who you’re related to and it can start off your application/interview process off poorly.
4. Your Portfolio
Now portfolios are not required! That being said, most creative positions require you to have one! I applied to be a Costuming Buyer; however, the Costumer position required you to provide samples of your work in a portfolio.
It’s important to read through the job descriptions to see exactly what you need to apply! I also saw that Tech Samples are an option to add. Although I’m not sure what positions use them, it could be yours! Always double and triple check.
Someone in my Disney Professional Intern Facebook Group (look it up, they have one every season) also asked if they should add a portfolio just to add one. Everyone’s advice was NO! That’s because you only want to show your BEST work to Disney. Don’t throw in random samples of mediocre work. Only show Disney the items that set you apart.
Tips for phone interviews:
1. Have your resume in front of you (but DON’T read off of it)
2. Have the job descriptions of the jobs you’ve applied to handy (some interviews are for ALL positions)
3. Have a notebook with you (for notes/questions to ask at the end)
4. ALWAYS ask at least TWO questions
5. Read (this) post on How to Ace Your Interview and Get the Job
The Phone Screen:
This part will probably be a lot shorter because the application, in my opinion, is the largest obstacle. You don’t really know what recruiters are looking for and it can really be hit or miss! The phone screen and/or interview(s) are where you’re really able to let your personality shine.
Now as I said above, I was offered a preliminary phone screen less than 24 hours after I applied for my Costuming Buyer position. I’d done all of the tips I listed above and then just had to set up a time for my call!
Once you’re offered a phone screen, you will get emailed a link where you sign up for a time slot. There was about six options for me to choose from, but then I had to end up re-scheduling my call. That’s another thing:
Disney generally does not work based off of the time frame they tell you. This is nothing against them! You have to remember this IS a business and all the recruiters are probably very busy. It’s also hard to schedule multiple cast members with various schedules for one phone call time slot.
They told me my phone screen would be about 15 minutes long and mine was EIGHT MINUTES LONG. After you have your preliminary phone screen, they’ll likely tell you the time frame in which you’ll hear back about a next call or BlueJeans (basically a video chat) interview.
My phone screen ended up being on September 17th and I was told I would hear back by the first week of October. The first week came. Then second week came….I hadn’t heard back. I basically gave up at that point and got rid of all my application papers. WHICH WAS NOT SMART Y’ALL.
The Phone Interview:
The next week, on October 18th, I got a random call from Anaheim, CA (Disney has offices there too). I thought it was a spam call (because I’d been getting a bunch lately), but IT WAS THE COSTUMING TEAM. They wanted me to have a group interview with three cast members on the Costuming team in FL.
My phone screen ended up being on that next Monday, October 22nd. I’m not going to lie, phone screens on a conference call are really awkward. There are weird silent pauses while they type your responses so don’t be alarmed about this if you have one!
This interview lasted roughly thirty minutes (I think….I can’t remember exactly). It doesn’t really matter the length though because some people take thirty minutes and others take an hour! They then tell you that you’ll hear back within the next week (from a recruiter) if you’ve been selected.
I got a notification in my email saying that a recruiter wanted a 15 minute “initial phone call” within the next week. Since I had a few other applications still under review, I was thinking that it was for these other positions.
I picked up and she said that the team had some feedback about me (so I was freaking out of course). She then mentioned that she had a couple clerical questions. These ended up being questions that made me think……IT WAS AN OFFER. That it was.
Q: How much do Disney’s Professional Internships pay?
A: It depends on the position! They range from about $12/hour to upwards of $25/hour if you have an Engineering role. I’ve discovered that the closer to the parks you go, the less you make.
Q: What are all of the Disney Professional Internship abbreviations?
A: (This is what confused me the most)
PI = Professional Internship/Intern
MI = Management Internship/Intern (Retail, Food & Beverage, etc.)
DCP/CP = Disney College Program/College Program
NLIC = No Longer In Consideration (for a position)
BlueJeans = Basically just the Disney version of Skype (it’s more secure)
Under Review = You may get an interview, you may not
In Consideration = You will likely get an interview and stay here until you get an offer
Q: Should I send a thank you to the people I interviewed with?
A: Yes! You totally can. I personally didn’t have their emails, but I’ve heard if you reach out to your recruiter with one (or more) they’ll get it to the right place!
Q: Do I need a portfolio?
A: You can totally add one if it’s relevant to your position! For me, mine was way too large because I had formatting issues. I uploaded a couple specific projects to the “File” section of my Disney Careers page. It’s most definitely not required for all positions though.
Q: Do I have to live in Disney Housing?
A: For Professional Interns you do not! I got a one bedroom about 30 minutes from my location. A lot of people DO live in professional internship housing at Falcon Square. It’s really up to your preference!
Q: How long should my resume be?
A: One page!!!!! It’s honestly subjective and some people get a little defensive because theirs are more, but seriously it’s up to you. I have been told by professors and recruiters that it should only be ONE PAGE. Imagine if you’re a recruiter.
You’re sitting there with three hundred applicants and someone’s resume is two pages long. They don’t have time! Keep 3-4 relevant positions on it along with some achievements (i.e. President’s/Dean’s List, Certifications, Leadership positions, etc.). Work your hard and soft skills INTO your job responsibilities.
Q: What are Disney Professional Internship Interview Questions?
A: Almost all of my interview questions were JOB SPECIFIC. If they mention in the job posting different skills they’re looking for, be sure to have SPECIFIC examples of when you used them and how. That’s another reason I said to print out/save all of the job postings you applied to! Then you can reference those in preparation. I also suggest checking out this (link) on 31 of the most popular interview questions! Then tailor your responses to the position(s) you’re applying for.
Always remember to keep in mind that EVERY SINGLE INTERVIEW PROCESS IS DIFFERENT. Some PI’s that I know never even had an official phone interview. For my position I had two! Others still had BlueJeans interviews and had to submit portfolios. Each position is different, each interview is different, and each ROLE is different!
As you can see, the Disney Professional Internship Application & Interview Process is a LONG and stressful process. That being said, I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I am so excited for this experience and I hope this post was able to help YOU with YOUR application and interview.
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