Keeping My Head Up

My superstitious self is hoping that writing this blog post will push things along — because really, how fun would it be to write an entire blog post about not hearing back from Disney, and then hear back from Disney?

Anyway.

For those of you keeping track at home, here’s my timeline:

01/12/16 – applied for the Disney College Program

01/22/16 – Disney College Program phone interview

02/12/16 – applied for a Disney Professional Internship in Guest Relations

02/22/16 – Disney Professional Internship phone interview

02/26/16 – still waiting

Yes, I am still “In Progress.” Which I suppose is much better than being NLIC, or “No Longer In Consideration.” Bright side, right?

I think there are three main issues surrounding why I’m a little discouraged (and a lot impatient) about not hearing anything yet:

  1. For my first program, I was accepted four days after my interview. Not much waiting time.
  2. Most of my friends who applied this season have already heard back (and I am SO HAPPY for them, oh my gosh).
  3. Everyone keeps asking me if I’ve heard yet. And while I know that everyone means well, it’s disappointing to both me and those asking every time I have to say “no.” Also, trust me, when I know, the world will know. I won’t leave anyone out. Regardless of what the decision is.

But, to be fair, Disney has until April 15th to let me know, and as recruiters keep saying, most decisions will be made in March. It’s not quite March yet, so I’m trying not to get discouraged. I hope good news is on the way. 

I have no bad thoughts toward Disney. I knew going into this that nothing is guaranteed — regardless of how good my record card and company history are. I want to think that I would be a great cast member and an asset to the company, but ultimately the decision rests in Disney Recruiting’s very capable hands. And I trust whatever decision is made, no matter how long it takes.

But I’ve still got my fingers crossed, and I’m hoping that Disney can find a place for me.

  

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Guest Relations Professional Internship Phone Interview

So I just finished my Guest Relations Professional Internship interview. I hadn’t prepared too much because I’ve done the PI phone screen a few times before, and I was fairly confident that I could handle it.

By some stroke of luck (or fate), my interviewer was the same recruiter who interviewed me for the College Program exactly a month ago today! She told me that she remembered my interview and that we would just go a little more in-depth with some of the questions she’d asked me in my CP interview.

First, we started by going over my resume. Then she asked me why I applied for this particular internship. I told her that one of my favorite parts of being a Disney cast member on my first college program was learning problem solving skills from the Downtown Disney Guest Relations cast members who worked in the Westside/DisneyQuest office with me, and also being able to problem solve a wide variety of guest situations. 

Then she asked me what my favorite part of my job as a WDW CM was (the problem solving), and what the most challenging part was (when I couldn’t fix a situation). She then asked me about a difficult guest situation, and since I’d already told her the story about the guest who lost her car (which she remembered!), I told her a different story about a guest whose ticket entitlements disappeared.

After she asked me a couple of other questions and clarified the differences between CP housing and PI housing, she wished me the best and that was that. It was a very quick interview, overall, I assume because I had the same interviewer. It was great to talk with her again, and she told me that I should hear something soon about the College Program at least (thank goodness). She also told me that she’d felt confident in my abilities the last time she interviewed me. I’m still trying not to get my hopes up, since I haven’t heard anything yet, but hopefully I’ll have some (good) news here soon.

And now I’m back to playing the waiting game again… congratulations to all the hopefuls who have been accepted so far, and my fingers are crossed that I’ll hear something, either about the College Program or this Professional Internship, soon!

Getting Out Of My Comfort Zone

I’ve been doing a lot to push myself out of my comfort zone lately.

As someone who has lived with generalized anxiety for quite some time, things that may seem super easy for most people are difficult for me, especially pertaining to social situations. It’s very hard for me to walk into a new place alone, but I’ve been doing it almost weekly, thanks to my best friend Lauren choosing a new restaurant every week for our weekly Best Friend date. As nerve-wracking as it is for me, I know (and I think she knows) that it’s good for me to get pushed out of my comfort zone every so often.

I’ve also been pushing myself way out of my comfort zone with my exercise routine. Wednesday marked a solid week of every day exercise, and while the past two days have been a little rough, I’ve pushed myself to run up to 10 minutes of a 30 minute workout, and I’m feeling better than I have in a long time (despite the minor protest from my knees). Considering that a few weeks ago I didn’t think I could run, and now I’m running 10 minutes, I think it’s safe to say my comfort zone is shifting. And this positive change is feeling great.

A couple of weeks ago in this space, I wrote about the struggle I’m having with Disney Internship applications. I’m still waiting to hear back about the DCP (*fingers crossed for next week*), but I’ve also been procrastinating Professional Internship applications because I’m not sure of where exactly I want to be in the company yet. However, today, I took a leap and applied for a Guest Relations PI.

When I first got hired to work at Disney World, in October of 2013, I had many ideas of what I wanted to get a better understanding of in order to prepare for a potential future with the company. One of those things was Guest Relations. I always admired those in plaid, who help guests with a wide variety of situations every day. I was very excited when I found out that one of my roles, ticketing at DisneyQuest, was in the same office as Downtown Disney Westside Guest Relations. Over my seven months at Disney, I learned so much from the Guest Relations cast members, to the point where one of them deemed that I was an “honorary plaid.” However, one thing I also learned after watching difficult situation after difficult situation is that I’m probably not cut out for Guest Relations, and I gave up on that idea.

But why did I think that I wasn’t cut out for a GR position? Because it could get difficult? Any job could get difficult. Because guests can be mean? Guests were mean to me in my other roles, too. What it boiled down to is that my anxiety convinced me that I couldn’t handle the role. 

So when I was looking for Professional Internships that are guest-facing, and I came across the GR PI, I spent a good amount of time convincing myself that I’m not cut out for it. 

But then I remembered something that one of my leaders told me on my last day as a CP — he said that, no matter the situation, anytime he saw me speaking with or assisting a guest, he could tell that I truly cared about providing the highest level of service. It reminded me of all the times I kept my cool in difficult situations. And it reminded me of how much I truly loved helping Disney’s guests. 

I don’t know how likely it is that I’ll get this internship, but regardless of what happens this time around, I want to keep Guest Relations in mind for the future. It could work out, and it could not. But I’ll never know unless I try, and I need to push myself out of my comfort zone and this type of role would be a great way to make that happen.

What I’m learning, from running and otherwise, is that I’m capable of so much more than I ever imagined. I’m stronger, physically and mentally, than I realized. Regardless of where I end up with Disney, I’m going to do what I can to get out of my comfort zone and defeat my anxieties one at a time. And it started today, as I applied for an internship that, for all intents and purposes, scares the crap out of me.

Just like running, it’s one step at a time, right?

Living Better (Or “A Short Post About My Health”)

Although I’m writing this sitting on my couch, and I have yet to work out today, I can say with 100% certainty that I’m in a much better place health-wise than I was a week ago.

For about a month, I’ve been trying to slowly add more running to my workouts (which generally consist of walking 30 minutes a day, four or five days a week). Up until last week, the most I’d run was about 3 minutes out of my 30 minute walk. Not a bad start.

But this past Wednesday, I was a having a really crappy day and I needed to let the negative energy out in a positive way. So when I got home from work, I got on the treadmill and said to myself, “okay, we’re gonna go for ten minutes today.” I borrowed the Couch to 5K strategy of running for one minute, walking for two, and before I knew it, the workout was over and I had spent ten minutes of it running. Surprisingly, instead of feeling the pain I usually feel from my knees, I felt great. So I tried it again on Friday, with the same result. The only thing that hurt was my ankle, so today I went out and bought more supportive running shoes. I’m also pushing myself to walk for at least 15-20 minutes on non-workout days, even if it’s just down the block and back, so I can say I did something every single day.

Aside from changing up my exercise routine a bit, my mom and I have been doing our best to eat better. Instead of relying on going out, or on frozen dinners when we get home from work and/or school, we’ve been making more fresh meals. We also haven’t been keeping snacks in the house, and when we feel like snacking, we’ve both been drinking tea instead (I’m drinking some Constant Comment as I write this).

Right now, my body is starting to feel better than it has in a long time. It’s a slow start, but it’s a start. What I definitely have to work on, though, is my mental health. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 2009, and although I’ve found ways to manage it on my own, there are some days that make me realize I have a lot further to go than I thought. I’m hoping that, if I get accepted to Disney, the change of scenery and working in a place I love will help — it did last time. But I need to find ways to remain in a good mental state at all times, not just when things are going really well.

I’m hoping that a lot of my stress will clear up once DCP decisions start to go out (assuming my process goes the way I want  it to, of course). But until then, I need to figure out ways to keep myself distracted and keep my stress levels from taking over my life. The exercise is a great start. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. I feel better because I’m taking the steps to get better, instead of just passively waiting for life to get better on its own. Taking an active interest in my own health instead of doing the bare minimum just to get by is exactly the start I need to get on track.

The Waiting Game (and Getting My Thoughts Out)

When you apply for the Disney College Program, you spend a lot of time waiting.

First, you wait for applications to open. Then, once you submit your application, you wait to see if you got a Web Based Interview. For me, that wait was an hour or so. For others, it could be days. Then, if you get the Phone Interview, you wait to schedule it. Then you wait for the actual interview. 

After the phone interview, arguably the most agonizing wait begins — the wait for a decision.

I’ve been “In Progress” for almost a week now. Being that I only had to wait four days for my previous acceptance, a week feels like forever. 

(I know I’m being a little dramatic, but just remember, if I get offered a position with the Disney College Program, it will be the first stepping stone into a career with Disney.)

While I’ve been waiting (and refreshing my email about 300 times a day), I’ve been thinking about what exactly it is that I want from a job with Disney. Getting such a positive response when I requested a work location has me completely convinced that what I need right now is a guest-interactive role. A role where I can make Disney magic, in a Disney theme park, for Disney guests. While there were many opportunities to do that on my last College Program, Downtown Disney certainly was not the most magical place on earth. I want a new and different experience, preferably in the Magic Kingdom. I want to learn how to handle whatever kind of guest situation is thrown at me.  I want to pick up shifts in new and different areas. I want to learn as much as I can, and make magic while doing that.

Will that be what I want a year from now? Maybe, maybe not. But a year from now, I’ll have the opportunity to pursue something different, if I want (and if Disney wants to keep me). 

The issue I’m finding with my initial plan, which was to apply for a CP but also Professional Internships, is that many Professional Internships aren’t guest facing. They’re in other areas of the Parks & Resorts, which is great, but isn’t what I want right now. I’ll be applying for a few, but even though I’m going to be 26 years old and will have a master’s degree, I want to find my fit within the company through a front line role first.

People have voiced their opinions on this, but ultimately, right now, I’m going to pursue a role that right now, from afar, feels fulfilling to me. Things may change. Plans may not go the way I anticipate they will. But ultimately, if accepted, I plan to use the CP as a networking tool to work my way to finding what I want. This is only the beginning of what I hope will be an amazing journey.

But for now, until a decision comes through my email, I continue to wait. And wait. And speculate with other hopefuls about when acceptances will start (my bet is sometime on Monday, February 1st). I’ve refreshed my email six times while writing this post. As soon as this post is live, I’ll probably get back on Facebook and mill around in the DCP group with the other hopefuls. 

It’s only been a week. But if the I don’t hear back soon, I’m sure there will be a lot more rambly blog posts from me.

And if I do get accepted? Well then, I’ll be writing while I’m waiting to leave, of course!

#NotGone – The Wonder of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening

After seven visits to New York City to see Deaf West’s Spring Awakening on Broadway, I think it’s safe to say I’m somewhat obsessed.

I’ve been asked countless times, “why do you love this show? Why do you keep spending money to go see it? What is it about Spring Awakening?”

I’ve written in this space about the show before. But I don’t think I’ve ever been able to truly capture what Spring Awakening makes me feel. I don’t think there are words for it. All I can really say is that this production made me want to keep coming back over and over again.

Back in December, I brought my brother and sister to see the show. It was my fifth time. And as I was sitting in the theater, sometime during the second act, I thought “this cannot be the last time I see this show.” The next day, I bought two tickets for closing night. I couldn’t believe they were still available, a month before closing, at regular price. But there they were, and within minutes, I had the tickets in my email. 

On Saturday, Winter Storm Jonas dropped MAJOR snow on the northeast. For the first time that I can remember, Broadway shut down. As I watched 33 inches of snow fall in my yard, I kept my fingers crossed that things would get cleared up for Sunday so that Broadway could reopen and Spring Awakening could get the closing it deserved. While they lost two performances, the show was back up and running yesterday, and able to go out with a bang last night.

My mom and I woke up yesterday morning and trekked outside to clean off our cars in the hopes of getting into the city. The roads were fairly clear, up until right before the Helix of the Lincoln Tunnel, which for some reason wasn’t plowed. But we made it in. 

  
The city after a snowstorm is one of the craziest things I’ve ever experienced. Where do you even put that much snow? It took us longer to get to our parking garage than it did to get into the city. We were constantly re-routed to other streets as the plows worked diligently to clear the streets, but I’ve never seen that much slush in my life.

After an excellent dinner at Becco, my mom and I made our way to 47th for the show. At 7 pm (the show had a 7:30 start time), the line to get into the theater wrapped around the block, almost all the way to 48th. Finally, at about 7:15, the line started moving. I think there was some kind of ticketing issue, because we got to our seats at 7:34 and still had about 15 minutes before the show load finished.

  
For those who have not experienced the show, I should note that Spring Awakening had a “pre-show” where the cast got into their costumes and warmed up on stage. Usually the audience doesn’t seem to pay much attention, but last night, as each actor walked onstage, every single one of them received thunderous applause (with a lot of ASL “applause” mixed in). 

As the show began, I was full of sadness, knowing that this was the last time these actors would be performing this show on Broadway. Though the pre-show was filled with hugs and a few tears, the cast gave it their all. Applause between each number lasted about 30 seconds longer than it usually would. Scenes that normally moved very quickly from one to the other had to be paused to allow the audience to get their applause in and settle in for the next one. Most notably, the scene between “My Junk” and “Touch Me,” which normally leaves no room for applause, went for the transition and then had to stop; lead actor Austin McKenzie started his line, paused for the applause, and then picked up his line right where it left off. These actors are pros, after all, but you could tell they were loving the energy.

At intermission, everyone around me was gushing about how incredible the show was. I ended up talking to some people who had been at BroadwayCon, and one hearing girl who is fluent in ASL and was signing as she spoke. She was so blown away by the show, and gave me some resources to start my own ASL learning journey.

The second act was just as perfect and high energy as the first, with an almost 1 1/2 minute long standing ovation after “Totally F*cked,” the show’s “11:00 number.” For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the second act deals with some pretty heavy themes of death and suicide. Despite the audience’s high energy, there were moments where you could hear a pin drop. 

At the end of the show, the cast comes on stage to perform “Purple Summer,” the closing number. The ending of the number is just one person signing as they walk offstage, giving the audience about 30 seconds of silence. Every time I have seen it, I’ve found myself holding my breath. Last night, I could hear a few sniffles as people (myself included) cried through it. But again, it was pretty much silent until the lights went out. It was a perfect, beautiful ending for a perfect, beautiful show.

  
After the curtain call, director Michael Arden came onstage to thank literally everyone who had contributed to the show. He spoke about the show’s transition from Los Angeles to Broadway, and thanked the producers for taking a chance on the idea. Then, Steven Sater, one of the composers/writers of the show gave a brief history of the show, and shared some powerful quotes about closing a show on Broadway. Overall, the entire night was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

Though Spring Awakening was only on Broadway for a short time (about 20 weeks), having the opportunity to watch it seven times between previews to closing night was such a blessing. In all of my years of following Broadway shows, I have never seen such a tight-knit, interactive cast. Every single one of them is so beautiful, graceful, and professional (I was fortunate enough to meet most of the cast at the stage door back in October). The brought so much to Broadway, and I hope that this show will start a trend of Deaf West Theater doing more Broadway productions, making theater accessible for d/Deaf and hard of hearing audiences. Though ticket sales weren’t stellar during the beginning of the run, seeing sold-out performances over and over again  at the end was a wonderful thing. 

I can’t say enough great things about Spring Awakening, but I will say this: In 2015/2016, this show is exactly what Broadway needed. And you all know that as soon as this show’s tour crosses the Florida border, I’ll be there. I hope that everyone reading this gets the chance to know the wonder of Spring Awakening as it embarks on its tour in 2017.

Thank you, Deaf West. Thank you, Spring Awakening. Thank you for inspiring me to break out of my comfort zone and pursue a new language, and thank you for inspiring me to learn about a new culture. Thank you for turning my favorite musical into something so important and special. And thank you, for seven wonderful, unique, beautiful visits to your stunning performance. You’re #NotGone. You will live in the hearts and minds of all who know the wonder.

Disney College Program – Phone Interview

2016 has been a whirlwind so far.

I wasn’t anticipating Disney College Program and Professional Internship applications to drop until February, so I’ve just been biding my time and preparing for school to start.

So imagine my surprise when DCP apps opened on January 12th.

I got home from work, filled out the application, and played the waiting game for a couple of hours. My web interview showed up in my inbox right after I got in bed — go figure. But I budgeted out time the next evening to get it done, and was immediately selected for a phone interview. As my dad put it, “well, this is all happening very fast!”

I just finished my phone interview a little while ago. I’ve done a handful of phone interviews with Disney, but this was by far one of the most fun. My recruiter, Susan, has been in her role for ten years, and her experience shows. She made me feel completely comfortable right off the bat as we joked around about the weird spelling of my last name. 

My interview lasted 21 minutes. Susan started by asking me about my previous role with the company, and where I worked. On her sheet, it said Downtown Disney, “Pleasure Island Ticketing,” but as she pointed out, Disney hasn’t sold Pleasure Island tickets in a very long time! I explained to her that I was actually on the West Side doing ticketing ops for La Nouba and DisneyQuest. 

She then asked if I was receptive to Disney Look. I told her that I was, and we discussed my tattoos and how I plan on covering them. Next, we briefly discussed housing and general role requirements (standing, temperatures, etc). Then we got to the questions about some of my work experiences. She asked me about a difficult guest situation, and since I was feeling confident, I went with the story about the guest who lost her car. Susan was in hysterics over this story, especially when I got to the part about “Well, if you can’t find my car, how am I supposed to find it?” After a good laugh about that, she asked me about an emergency situation I handled, and then we jumped into talking about roles.

Susan asked me what my top three role choices are, and I told her attractions, merchandise, and Photo Pass. She then asked if I wanted to request a specific location, reminding me that, while there are no guarantees, she could make a note on  my file. I told her I wanted to be in a park, and that if I could get more specific, I would love to be in Main Street Operations or park entry at Magic Kingdom. I think my want of Main Street stuck, because when she asked me about merchandise, she used The Emporium as an example of a merch placement.

Next, she asked me about Photo Pass and my experience with digital cameras. I told her that much of my photography is a hobby, but that I usually photograph the Disney Parks. I also told her that I got a new digital camera for Christmas and I’m excited to try it out. She then asked me a couple of questions about other roles I’m interested in — Seater (formerly Full Service Food & Beverage) and Character Attendant. We discussed a couple of scenarios for each role.

At the end, she told me about what to expect in the coming weeks. She also encouraged me to keep an eye out for Professional Internship applications, because she wants to see me put my writing skills to use. However, she said the DCP can be a stepping stone for those, too. I then asked her about her experience with the company, and we talked about her advice for CP hopefuls who want to turn the CP into a career — network, network, network!

Overall, I feel incredibly good about this interview. While I’m definitely applying for Professional Internships once the applications open, I would definitely be okay with another College Program.

So now the waiting game begins. Most people are being told that they’ll hear something by late March, so it could be a while. But the process has started, and I am SO EXCITED about where this journey will take me!