One of my greatest regrets in life is not completing the Disney College Program when I was an undergraduate student at Penn State. Disney came to my alma mater twice each year to recruit for the program, but I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life when I was between the ages of 18-21. I didn’t have the “calling” to Disney that I’ve experienced within the last ten years of my professional life. And over these past few years, I have heard that getting a full-time job with the Walt Disney Company is impossible unless you are a graduate of the Disney College Program (DCP), had an internship, or worked part-time in the parks.
I had a chance today to speak with a former Disney cast member who confirmed what I had heard.
I get it, Disney. You are doing a smart thing by hiring from within, minimizing your risk by first seeing what someone is capable of in a temporary capacity before offering them a full-time job. But don’t you think it’s possible you are narrowing your talent pool for open jobs a little too much?
I wish I was in a position to leave my full-time professional marketing career to either take a part-time job with Disney or go back to school (even though I already have a master’s degree) in the hopes of landing an internship, but it’s just not feasible at this stage of my life. Perhaps Disney and I (and others like me who don’t have that DCP experience) can meet in the middle on this.
I suggest Disney create a part-time externship program for professionals who are mid-career. The externship program would take place on weekends (a busy time in the parks, for sure) for a period of 8 to 12 weeks, and could be marketed as either an experiential learning opportunity for professionals who want to take back some Disney “magic” to their current employers (an alternative experience to the Disney Institute) OR a chance for a professional to add some internal experience to their resume to get their foot in the door for a full-time role with Disney.
I’d be willing to volunteer my time for this. Yes, I’ll do it for free. I’m sure I’m not alone here.
OR Disney can hire me full-time to create, market, and execute this program. My background in both marketing and higher education certainly makes me qualified to do this – I just need to see what’s going on behind the curtain at Disney to understand the magic first, and if that means selling giant turkey legs in Frontierland for my first two weeks on the job, I’m in!