All throughout August, new members of the Disney College Program (DCP) have been arriving at the parks, unpacking their bags, and beginning orientation. There’s a lot of advice online about how to apply and what to pack for this incredible program, but what about the months to come? How can you make the most of working at Walt Disney World (or Disneyland, as the case may be)?
Here are seven pieces of advice I’ve gathered during my two DCPs.
1. Ask questions whenever you have them
In your first two weeks here, a lot of information is going to be thrown at you very quickly, in orientation sessions and training days. For all of that information, there is truly only so much that your trainers can tell you in that brief time, and only so much that you can absorb. You will not know everything that you need to know about your job at the end of training, and that’s normal. When you realize that you don’t know the answer to a question, ask a coworker, coordinator, or leader. Don’t worry about seeming stupid. Stupid is acting like you know something when you don’t yet know it.
On the topic of asking things…
2. There is no shame in asking for help
It takes a literal village to run a theme park, and Disney runs on teamwork. The fact is that sometimes one person cannot get a job done safely and efficiently on their own! Most nights at work in my Custodial role, either someone ends up helping me with my closing trash run, or I end up helping someone else, just to make sure that everyone is okay and that the job is done in the best way. Anyone who acts like you should be ashamed for asking for help with something is wrong. If you run into someone like that, do your best to shrug off the way they made you feel, and go find someone nicer to help you.
3. “Easy” is a loaded word
When someone who works here tells you that something is “easy,” what they actually mean is that it’s easy after you’ve spent two months doing it every day. If you find yourself struggling for the first few weeks of your program at something that your trainer and coworkers referred to as “easy,” it is not your fault. You are not stupid. Ask questions, ask for help, and do the best that you can do in this moment. Competence will sneak up on you before you know it.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
You’re going to hear your leader at work talk about this plenty, to the point of it seeming like a broken record. But the reason they say it so much is because it’s true: drinking water is incredibly important when you work in a theme park. Drink some water before you step out into the sun in the morning, to give your body a head start. Take sips from your water bottle throughout the day. If you need a refill, go get it. Drinking water, eating lunch, and getting enough sleep are the three best things you can do for your health here.
And on that note…
5. Take actual days off
You’re excited, I know. You’re living at Walt Disney World (or Disneyland)! The parks are a mere bus ride away, and you can get in for free! It is incredibly tempting to spend every non-working moment park-hopping. I beg you to resist that temptation. Yes, having fun is an important part of a DCP. But days off are also time for getting caught up on sleep. Running around a park when you’re already drained is a good way to make yourself sick. Remember, you’re here for a few months at least. There will be plenty of time to take advantage of your employee perks, and you’ll be able to enjoy the parks even more once you’re used to being on your feet all day.
Speaking of taking advantage…
6. Take some time to network
The Disney parks aren’t the only thing you have access to here. A DCP is a great time to talk to and learn from people in all kinds of lines of work. They can teach you about Disney and the working world, and help you figure out what you can and want to do with your life. Not sure how to get started? Check your weekly emails for events; there are socials, workshops, and panels nearly every week. Go to your housing complex’s service center and ask the people at the front desk for advice. Ask your leaders at work to tell you how they got where they are now. You never know who will know someone who knows someone who has your dream job!
7. Keep concrete memories
Life moves very quickly here, and before you know it, it will be time to go home again. You’re going to want to remember these incredible months, and have something to look back on when it’s done. Throughout your program, take photos, make videos, collect park maps, keep a diary – or whatever else works best for you!