NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

The happiest place on earth

Did the Disney College Program make all my dreams come true?

I have been a “Disney” fanatic my whole life. From my Camp Rock and Hannah Montana Birthday Parties when I was a tween, to the before of watching all the golden age movies on repeat like The Lion King, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid, to the now where Disney is more prevalent than ever owning everything from Star Wars to almost all of the Marvel franchise. Disney was a part of me, and is for a lot of other people too, so doing the college program felt like a no-brainer to me.

If you don’t know, Disney World and Disney Land (there is a difference) have an internship specifically for college students where you can simultaneously live, work, learn, and play at the Disney parks. Disney provides housing for you in 4 housing complexes, Patterson Court, Vista Way, Chatham Square, and The Commons, each with their own beautiful pool. The classes you take usually count as electives, but will still further your college career once (if) you return to college (many students end up extending their programs for up to a year or even end up accepting permanent jobs). You can work just about anywhere, not just in the parks. The options are open to the hotels, the stores, the waterparks, lifeguards at the pools, or even custodial who can work just about anywhere. The options seem almost limitless. Every week Disney takes your weekly rent out of your paycheck so you don’t have to worry about rent at the end of the month. Besides living in beautiful California or sunny Florida for a whole semester, the best part is, you can get into any park, any time you want, for free any day of the year. Honestly. Doesn’t it just sound like a dream come true? Getting into the park for free whenever you want is truly an experience you can never repay (figuratively and literally, tickets are expensive), and the memories you’ll have with the people you meet from all over the country and the world will be some of the most cherished you have.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, I recommend you keep reading, but first I’ll give you a few pointers for your application. The application for the DCP is a 3-step process. The first step is the application itself, on it Disney generally doesn’t have an individual person look at it until it has gone through a sort of scan process where they look for certain key words. If your application matches up with a certain amount of key words you can move on to the next round within a matter of a few hours without anyone ever actually reviewing your application. Some of the words they like to look for are “good communications skills”, “leadership”, and “works well on a team” etc. The second step is a questionnaire where they ask you generic questions that you either “highly agree” or “strongly disagree”. My only recommendation for this is to rarely put neutral for these types of questions, Disney wants someone who is self assured and knows what they want, for example if the statement is “I am always on time” even if you are sometimes late you should still put “Highly agree”. This shows Disney you are dedicated, they don’t want someone who is wishy-washy who says, “Well sometimes I might be late”. The final step in the process is the phone interview, which is the hardest step, because it’s the most unpredictable. You never really know what they’re going to ask you, so the best thing you can do is be yourself, be genuine, and tell them why you’re the best candidate and why you love Disney.

That being said however, there are some things that Disney isn’t going to tell you about the DCP. They say buyer-beware when it comes it comes to a lot of things, but if you’re going to do the DCP I cant stress this enough, PEOPLE ARE NOT WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!! I met all my roommates off of Facebook, and while I love most of them, there were a few who were just absolute nut jobs. You might think you know who you’re living with, but you never really know. I recommend just going random, it makes everything easier, that way if you hate them its not like you hate someone you thought you liked and knew.

Oh and the rent they “conveniently” take out of your paycheck for you every week? That’s roughly $100, so about $400 a month, which is extremely cheap if I was one person making Massachusetts minimum wage. Keep in mind I was living in an apartment with only 3 bedrooms and 6 girls (2 per bedroom), so already Disney is getting $2,400 for our dingy apartment, not to mention the fact that we were only making $10 an hour. 40 hours/1 week – monthly rent is really only leaving us with a living wage of $300 dollars for everything else, thanks Disney!

40 hours a week of course, is if they felt like being gentle on you that week. Disney will work you every chance they get, there were days I worked 14 hour shifts, and if you don’t like overnights I do not recommend working in the hotels, even if you’re a college programmer they will schedule you 11 PM – 7 AM. This may sound like a large accusation, but in my personal opinion Disney does not care about its College Program Employees. You are bottom of the barrel to them, and they will schedule you and work you as hard as they can. I’m not saying you can’t have a fantastic time on your program and meet amazing people and make wonderful memories, but the policies and procedures Disney has in place to “take care” of their employees is not one I agree with. Disney has a point system in place so anytime you are late, boom: half a point. Do something your boss disagrees with? Well that’s a whole point. Get enough points and that’s a reprimand, get enough reprimands and guess what, you don’t have a job with the Mouse any more. I understand it is a business, but some parts seem almost inhuman to me.

By no means is this a bash Disney rant, because I still am that “Disney” person I was before the DCP, if anything the DCP was a chance for me expand my horizons and make lasting connections with people I would have never had the chance to meet before. Do I regret doing the Disney College Program? By no means at all. Would I ever do the College Program again? Most likely not. Should you do the DCP? I would say if you’ve never been away from home, and you’re looking to take a risk and build your résumé, and if you really don’t mind being worked like a dog then why not!