How I Got Here
Two and a half years ago I was a junior in college anxiously awaiting to hear back about my Disney College Program Application. Others had already heard back and I automatically assumed it wasn’t going to be me who would receive that next golden ticket. I had already given up hope when I decided to refresh my email for that one millionth time. That’s when I saw the “Congratulations!” subject line. I didn’t even know what to think, I didn’t think it could be real. What are the odds it was sent right after I had given up hope? Especially after I could have sworn I butchered my interview by being so nervous I could barely even get a full sentence out to my recruiter without stuttering. But there it was. An acceptance.
Throwback to me having a meltdown on my dorm room floor and having my roommate sprint out of the bathroom thinking I saw a spider. Good times. ANYWAYS… fast forward to a few agonizingly long months later and I was Quick Service Food & Beverage in Magic Kingdom, swirling Dole Whip. Now I’m not going to sit here telling you about the ‘glory days’ of my first program, because it wasn’t all hearts and flowers all of the time. It was long hours, at the exact same little hut, swirling the exact same ice cream every. single. day. For four months straight. At times it was honestly unbearable. But what did I gain from it? Everything. It made me feel so confident. Confident that I could do anything from that moment on. Could handle any job. Any task. To stand my ground with confidence. It also gave me a new family. A family I knew that one day I would have to go back to because leaving was almost impossible. But mainly, it gave me a dream and a goal. Two things that go hand in hand really. A dream to continue working for Disney minus the hard days, and a goal to return for another program once I graduate.
Fast forward a year later. I’m having extreme Disney withdrawals, still keep in contact with a majority of my Disney friends from the program, ANDDD I was finally about the graduate. It was go time round 2. I applied for the program again and within hours received both my web based interview and phone interview. During the interview I stressed that I loved Magic Kingdom and would love to explore a new area of it. One month later I received my acceptance for Fall 2018 Merchandise. I was thrilled!
This second program was different in so many ways. Every program is different and I expected as much, but what I didn’t expect was making a brand new work family back in the heart of the Magic Kingdom. Only this time, it was on Main Street USA at the Emporium. The other notable difference would be experiencing Disney during the holidays. Thank god for the family I created down here because even though you tell yourself a million times you’re simply in your second home for the holidays it’s still hard to be away from family. There was certainly days with tears and no motivation but there was also days of witnesses true holiday magic and seeing what the power of friendship as well as family can hold.
About halfway through my second program, I decided to start planning for bigger steps in my career. I started to apply to Professional Internships which would probably be considered a step up from the college program. Professional Internships are more focused and major-based. As a PI you start further up in the company with hopes of a career offer at the end of your stay. I applied to about 17 internships; extensive I know. I simply wanted to give myself the best chance possible since I knew how competitive these internships were. It was hours of sitting in the Disney Springs Starbucks (like I’m currently doing), writing and rewriting dozens of cover letters, and tweaking my resume to make it fit each individual application.
That was when I decided to make a last minute decision and apply for one specific internship out of whim. I knew I had no chance of getting it because it was considered the most exclusive and competitive internship the Walt Disney World Company had to offer. So I did it, I applied to Disney’s VIP Tours Services and Support Internship. I had always had an underlying dream of wearing that Disney plaid and showcasing my deep Disney knowledge to others, but I also knew others work for years just to reach that point.
About a week or two later my phone buzzed as I was getting ready for bed. It was a simple notification that one of the internships I had applied for wanted to set up a phone interview with me. This was huge. To even get to this next step could be considered a big achievement. It meant they knit picked through everyones’ resumes and picked mine out of the group to move on with. So I quickly logged into my account to see which internship it was that I had moved on in. Assuming it was one of the the dozen events ones I had applied for I was in utter and complete shock when I saw that VIP subject line. I was clearly thrilled but also didn’t get my hopes up too high. VIP’s interviewing process included multiple rounds, obviously I was honored to have made it onto round two but I also knew it meant I would still be competing with others to move on to step three if I was lucky enough.
I scheduled my interview for as soon as I possibly could. I’ve noticed the longer you wait for a phone interview, the most you stress and psych yourself out. So I decided to jump right into it so I had no time for panicking. The interview actually went surprisingly well. I only say surprisingly because I was shocked at my own confidence. I knew I was dreaming big and in order to dream big you need to build confidence. I made my interviewer laugh and conversation even came naturally. I had never been so proud of myself. Soon after I was moved into ‘in consideration’ in my online application. I squealed. Literally. A audible squeak came out of my mouth when I saw that. At that point I had my entire emporium and roommate family rooting me on. I tried keeping my application updates on the down low because I knew I would feel extremely awkward if I ended up getting rejected, but word spreads quickly in this Disney family.
Then one day as I was feeling a little run down after a long day of work, I decided to hit the grocery store on my way home. That’s when my phone was on 8% (near heart attack), I received a phone call from a 407 number. I answered as quickly as humanly possible and was with the help of an extremely sweet Cast Member, scheduled my BlueJeans Interview. I almost couldn’t contain my excitement. Sushi for dinner as a reward was decided right after that as well in case you were curious. Calling both my mom and my dad right after I swear it was some kind of miracle or Disney magic that my phone didn’t die at all during this process.
A BlueJeans Interview is a video platform Disney uses for interviews and conference calls. Think of it like a fancy business form of Skype. I had scheduled my interview for just a few days later and panicked about what to wear and how to look considering this would be the first time my interviewers would be seeing me ‘in person.’
On the day of my interview I woke up at the crack of dawn, hit the gym to get out those last minute jitters and chugged a large Dunks coffee (because you can’t fail with Dunks in your system am I right?). I sat anxiously by my computer as fifteen minutes past my scheduled call time went by. I checked my phone at least ten times making sure I got the date and time right, also knowing they probably just fell behind in their interviewing schedule since they had other people to interview that day as well. Then I finally received it. The video invitation on my screen. With one last big breathe I pressed accept. That was when slight hell broke loose.
For the first attempt at video chatting, I could see the interviewer, but I couldn’t hear him. I panicked a little thinking it was my computer. But he said he would try to call back again. Two minutes later I got the second invitation, but still no sound. Great. At least I was calm in knowing the fact that he admitted it was his computer having the technical issues. This time he hung up before we got the chance to make another plan for what to do. Unfortunately I made the mistake of putting my phone on silent so that it wouldn’t distract me from the interview. I had missed the interviewers call about the technical difficulties and when I attempted to call back I received no answer. Then I automatically checked my email because I figured that would be their next attempt in trying to contact me and I was right. They had sent me a new link to another BlueJeans chatroom and I reluctantly accepted. Then shortly after I received a text from the recruiter explaining they were simply going to change rooms and find a new computer as well as apologizing for the inconvenience. I didn’t mind of course, I was just once again glad the issues weren’t on my end of the technology because I wouldn’t have known how to go about fixing them.
Finally I got the third call and I could hear them! PHEW. Buttttt then of course their screen was completely blue. They could see me, we could both hear each other, but I couldn’t see them. Welp at that point they just decided to roll with it and in a strange way it was almost less nerve wracking to see the people who were interviewing you. I remembered to stay smiling but it almost just felt like another phone interview.
It went extremely well. Even with two interviewers going back and forth asking questions, I felt like I never once paused or stuttered. Meaning I always felt like I had an answer to their questions, there was never a moment of self-doubt. I was once again stunned by my own confidence. When it ended I told them I couldn’t wait to ‘actually see’ them in person, that one got a good laugh. Any tension I had inside was released in that moment. I knew I did it. They told me they would follow up with me once all the BlueJeans interviews were complete.
That was an excruciatingly long two weeks let me tell you. No emails or anything, just waiting. Then after that two week period I received an email asking to schedule yet another phone call for the following day. I was nervous, I didn’t know what this meant. According to the Professional Interns Facebook page, I was the first one to received this email and everyone didn’t know if it meant an offer or a decline. When I answered the phone the next day, my roommates were huddled around my closed door trying to listen in on what was happening. My interviewer did a small background check in terms of my Disney employment to make sure I had had a clean record with the company. After that he asked about my willingness to complete a drug test and made sure I had no driving violations. When I passed that he asked if I had any questions, so I simply said when will I find out if I got the job or not? He said very soon. Then he went on to formally offer me the job as a VIP Tours Services and Support Intern.
I almost teared up a little as I said OF COURSE. It had finally happened. Applying to a job on a whim landed me a role people work their whole life to get to. It was a major stepping point in my career. I finally told the world and was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. My new adventure had finally begun.
Now here I am, starting my internship, sitting in a Starbucks and sharing my story. Obviously more will come in terms of explaining what my internship means and what my exact role is with the company. But that is a story for a little later. Right now my point here is to never give up on yourself and push yourself to aim for goals you may even think are impossible to achieve. You’ll find a new confidence within yourself that you didn’t know you possessed and you never know what will happen.