I alluded to a few details about myself in the first post, but let me take the opportunity to give you a little back story before we launch into internship discussion. My name is Bryan, and I was a Disney intern from May - August 2009. Once my internship had ended, I returned for one more semester of college where I earned my B.S. in Digital Arts & Sciences, a program that emphasized software engineering alongside art and design. And let me tell you, that little invisible footnote on my diploma that says, "I'm sort of an artist too!"...I can tell you without a doubt that it contributed to my success at Disney. I've found that the wider your skill set is, and the more projects you can contribute to, the more valuable you will be. Sure, sure, it sounds obvious, but I think it's even more vital to success at a company like Disney that thrives on creativity and innovative entertainment.
I stayed in close contact with Disney after my internship (more about how I did that later in the blog), and I was hired as a regular Cast Member in November 2009 - no, it wasn't as as an attraction greeter in the park (though I have since then had the opportunity to experience that role). I was brought onto the same team I had worked with during the summer. Hopefully that lends some credibility to my ramblings on the lofty subject of "How To Be Successful in a Disney Internship."
I'll try to answer all of the questions you might have (What did you do during your PI? What are the perks of working for Disney? Is it hard work? Where did you live? Was it fun?), but first I'll spend some time on the application/interview process. Okay? If you're saying , "Been there...done that...," just skip to the next post.
The application is straightforward. I don't remember it too well, but I do recall freaking out because it was a long time after I mailed in my application before I received any response from Disney. I don't know if the response time varies from program to program, but I think I waited a month or longer. At long last, however, I received a call from a woman who, I believe, was with the general Casting department. She wanted to ask me some general questions just to be sure that I wasn't raving mad before sending my paperwork onto the "real" application pipeline. Yeah, I was nervous, but I survived the short 10 min. phone interview and the very open-ended questions like, "Why Disney?"
Almost two weeks passed during which time I ran over and over the answers I gave during that interview. I swear I had almost convinced myself that it was the worst interview ever, but I received a second call from Disney while sitting around in my college dorm doing some homework. This time it was more formal: the Cast Member on the other end was from the IT department, and he wanted to schedule a time later that afternoon for a lengthier phone interview. So we planned one for a half hour later, and I took the extra time to prepare the perfect interview environment. Used the bathroom, charged my phone, got a glass of water, found a comfortable chair.
I distinctly recall this interview being challenging. I was told that there would be general as well as technical questions. Technical questions? I'm aware that some tech companies like asking tough questions about how to solve certain word problems or write certain algorithms, so I started to sweat a little. However, the "technical" questions were all related to past computer science projects I had worked on in college. My interviewer had my resume in front of him, and was inquiring about team sizes, project scope, languages used, etc. The toughest questions were the open-ended ones about my strengths and weaknesses or specific times I'd failed at something and what I did about it. "Failed at a technical project?" I asked. "Anything, technical or just life itself." I think that one of the things that made my application and interview more successful was the emphasis I put on specific projects in my resume. Sure, I wrote down the classes I had taken and the organizations I belonged to (not many), but I believe it was the creative nature of some of my school projects that propelled me forward.
The scariest thing that happened during my interview was a dropped signal. I felt like it was the end of the world. Oh, god, what happened...the phone just died...did he think I just hung up? But looking back, it's just sort of funny. Yes, Disney will still hire you even if you have a weak cell carrier.
I don't recall how long I waited before getting my acceptance phone call. I'm sure, though, that it felt a whole lot longer than it really was. A woman from the Casting office called me early one morning (actually, she woke me up!). But when I saw that 407 area code, I was immediately jerked out of the groggy morning state of mind. I was in!
I was too distracted to concentrate in classes that day, and my friends noticed it. Oh, well, I was the luckiest guy ever even though I had no idea what sort of internship I had just signed up for. It turns out that my mind was still incapable at comprehending how lucky I really was.
How's that for a cliffhanger?