Hello again! This will be my first new post in a long time–on purpose. I want to add some things that I learned along the way.
In early 2012, I applied for a PI while pursuing my Masters degree and working full-time as a journalist. In the spring, I interviewed and accepted a position in the marketing department. I started working in June, and was later approached by a PR manager who needed help on her team. When it came time to extend (stay another six months) I actually moved into the PR role as a PI because my original PI was going away due to budget. Technically, I had two PIs, though there was a lot of cross over between them, so it was a hybrid situation for several months. Today, I am four working days away from being totally finished with my PI, and my employment with the Company.
Since I applied, I’ve seen two PI hiring cycles, and I was a significant part of the hiring for my replacement, so I’ve got a much better idea of how that process works now. There are essentially a series of internal deadlines–Casting gets the first round, and once candidates are screened, passing resumes make it to the hiring managers inbox. I’m not sure of timing on either of these things, but this process is new, so was really clunky for my department especially (and I suspect for others as well). Once the managers had the resumes, they looked through them and chose based on experience level etc. Those were the candidates we interviewed. From our stack, we chose six to interview, and from those six, we only actually talked to four.
Now that I have seen it from both sides, I can confirm that this process is MUCH more talked about on the applicant side–I’ve been there, it’s suspenseful! It’s nerve wracking! It’s stressful! On the hiring side, it is very very slow until interview-time, and the people who are interviewing you have their (extremely) busy schedules to get back to. When they aren’t interviewing you, they are working–a lot. They aren’t stressing, so you should take note of that.
Best advice? Apply and relax. If you apply in January, know that you will get a screening (in some form) and then not hear about another interview for several weeks/a few months. That’s just the way it is. The best way you can prepare is by building a solid resume and being confident.
As I say several times in this blog–every position, and every leader, is different. Some of these leaders are looking for people who already have experience, some of them are looking for people who have had past park experience, some of them are looking for enthusiastic candidates–you really never know. Every leader hires for something different, and some leaders are better at hiring than others–I would say that’s pretty typical in the real world.
Treat your application and internship like a real job–it is a professional internship, and for me, that meant not being treated like an intern at all. While I was working there, I did real work that really mattered. In January, my PR leader left and I was manager-less for four months. Who kept the role running? I did. My point is–know that while this is Disney, and it will be fun, it is also serious work, and you shouldn’t still be wandering around in a confusion-cloud if you have been working there for more than four weeks.
If you are selected for the job, congrats! Now the real work starts. If your goal is to stay with the Company in any capacity, regardless of professional path, then my advice to you is to network like crazy. The Company is really great about offering meet and greets. If this is the path you want to pursue, do the Meet and Greets, find out what you like, get to know people, and you will likely find yourself on the road to permanent employment.
On the flip side, if you are someone who is looking for professional development and growth in a specific field, than I have less positive news to give you. It used to be, that if an individual was a rockin’ intern, a company would hire them because they were so wonderful. In today’s world of budget cuts, shaky economic times and tumult, its a bit different. You may find yourself lucky enough to move into a recently vacated role (if they decide to fill it) on your team, or one similar. I’ll be honest with you–chances are slim–not because you aren’t awesome! Just because of the way things are. My advice to you is to view this internship as exactly what it is–a temporary stepping stone leading to something bigger and better. Do not wait to apply for permanent jobs–whether they are in the Walt Disney Company or outside (I highly encourage both).
Something that I have noticed while I’ve been here is that every cycle brings a few interns who are more concerned about getting hired by the Company ASAP, that they aren’t high performers in their actual role–this is a mistake. From your interview, to your last day, you are building a reputation for yourself. People will remember how you treated them, the quality of your work and whether or not you were polite–trust me. I know it seems pretty obvious, but the best thing you can do for yourself in this role is to strive to be the best intern you can be–that is what will leave a lasting impression with everyone you meet, and–I promise you–will make a difference.
I hope that this blog continues to provide helpful insight to applicants. I know the process sucks sometimes, and the waiting can be terrible, but take it from me and don’t make it an obsession.
- On Resumes: Tailor your resume for every position you are applying for using key words from the job description. This will help you to get through the screen process. Also, remember that it’s a professional document. The appearance makes a difference. If it makes it through the screening, the hiring manager will spend approximately 0.2 seconds looking at that sloppy mess before rejecting you.
- On Interviews: Be professional, upbeat, confident, concise and engaging.
- On Blogging: Take the anonymous route. Trust me on this one–I know. I’ve seen a candidate be rejected for interviewing with a team and then blogging about it. The candidate never even knew why he/she was rejected. Don’t talk about your interviewer (or mention them by name)–it’s just a bad idea. And if you are going to blog about it, make sure its actually a good blog.
- On Social Media: Don’t be a jerk. They ARE watching. I was very involved in the hiring process for my replacement–I looked up every single one of our top choices (and I am NOT the only one). I looked at the Facebook group. I looked at LinkedIn profiles. Don’t make the foolish assumption that you are safe in a social sphere–the best policy for that is to just not engage in it at all. Follow anonymously. Honestly, it is for the very best.
- On Interning: Be the best intern that you can be. This experience is what you make it to be.
As always, thanks for following. My next steps don’t include Disney (by choice, though not because I had a bad experience–but because the connections I made led me to even more amazing opportunities outside the Company), but I do get comment notifications–and I’m happy to chat.
Good luck to all!