Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Defending Your CP Decision

If you are a past/present/future College Program participant, it's pretty likely that you've run into at least one negative friend, family member, school advisor, or complete stranger.  You know the type.  "You're doing the College Program?  You know you'll just be cheap labor, right?"  Or "I can't imagine anything worse than working for Disney.  All those annoying kids and angry tourists!"  Although it doesn't apply to me as a graduate, I've also heard "You're postponing graduation to operate roller coasters for a semester?"  There are numerous possibilities for the negative questions or statements undoubtedly coming your way at least once.  And it can be enough to get you defensively riled up sometimes.

Since I went public with my decision to do the CP, I've had many of these conversations already and I expect to have many more.  It's simply unavoidable.  But this post was inspired by a conversation online that I had the other day.  I was in a favorite online community and the subject of Disneyland/Disney World came up.  What followed was a division of members on whether Disney was a favorite aspect of childhood memories and experiences or an evil corporation determined to weasel money away from innocents.  It's pretty common whenever Disney becomes a topic there, so I wasn't surprised.  A fellow community member stated that she (or he, I don't know) was just hired at Disneyland to work in Attractions and was really excited.  I jumped in and responded with "Good luck! I start working at WDW in a few weeks!"  Then someone else responded to me, and here was the turn the conversation took.

Her: "Awesome!  I'm a Cast Member, do you know where you'll be working?"
Me: "Nope, not yet.  I'm in Attractions, though!"
Her: "If you want, I can check the Hub for you to find out your assignment.  I'd be happy to!"
Me: "Well thanks!  But I don't start until August so I am not in the system yet."
Her: "Oh Lord...  You aren't an unfortunate CP, are you?"
Me: "Yes, I am!"

And there was never a reply.  This amused me because it jumps to a whole new level of harsh outside perspectives.  Now other Cast Members are expressing their CP negativity to me.  At least I'm taking her at her word that she is indeed a CM.

There are so many ways to defend your decision to do the CP, depending on the specifics of the conversation.  If they tell you that you'll be wasting a semester or that Disney is just using you, you can point out the education and networking opportunities which are always a valuable aspect and ideal of any internship (although often people my age end up running for coffee and making copies in the name of "interning").  And regardless of your experience, you will be able to put a big name like Disney on your resume when you finish the program.  This is a point that the program uses for advertisement and I think it's a valid one.  In my own experience I've worked for both an international well-known retail company and a local small business that no one has ever heard of.  Which do you think stands out more on my resume?  Even during my CP interview, the interviewer expressed greater interest in my experience with that company because she was familiar with the corporation and the skills I would possess in order to be considered for a job there as well as the skills I would gain during my employment.  I think the same applies for the Disney company in terms of familiarity.  In my opinion any experience is good experience but the big name doesn't hurt.  As college or post-college jobs go, you could be doing much worse and not getting the same education/networking opportunities.  (For the record, I'm not saying that the CP is a fast-track to anything else because experiences vary.  A lot of it depends on how the participant chooses to utilize these opportunities!)

But this is just one example of how we will undoubtedly need to back up our choice to do the CP.  What about you, readers?  Any interesting stories about people expressing these sentiments to you about the CP?  How do you respond?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

And by the way, I've jumped on the TUMBLR bandwagon.  If you have one, feel free to follow and/or let me know!


Kristin said...

I've done the program before & just want to let you know, full time cast members don't really like CPs. They look at us as lazy & think we are just there to party. I lucked out during my last program in that a few people in my areas didn't care for CPs, but most of them loved us. It really depends on what role you're in, but CPs aren't usually liked.

Anna said...

Wow, that sucks. I've heard about some CMs disliking the CP because participants get so much of the full-time work in some areas. But I didn't know the rage was so harsh!

Something to watch out for, I guess.

A.Leo said...

I just found your blog & love it! I have to say, I really really wish that I had done the CP, but I didn't. I am kicking myself so much for that right now. You're lucky -- even if some of the CMs might not like you -- you're getting a great, incredible experience that you won't regret trying!

Anna said...

Thank you so much, A.Leo! I'm glad that you like my blog, and I'll be sure to check out yours ASAP. And thanks for the great words of encouragement! :-D

Kristin said...

Anna, I think it depends on the area.

When I worked in FSFB (and still do as seasonal until I start my PI), CPs were never looked at any differently. CPs were relied on heavily and FT CMs really enjoyed having them around.

Don't worry! I think a reason CPs get a bad wrap is because they CAN be lazy. If you prove you are hard working from the start (which I did, and it helped ten fold during my program when I needed help or a favor), then you will be okay!

Vivianne said...

You're right to point out that the fact that it's so well known makes it great on your resume. Remember, Disney is international so even if you move to another country Disney will be recognized :-)

Sharon said...

I happened to start my first program about 2 weeks prior to any other CPs in my area and was lucky to get to know all the full timers and most didn't know I was a CP until I transferred to Entertainment. If you start off on the right foot with them everything should work out.

Megan said...

I think you made many valid points. We may not like our job in the parks, but it will give us a lot of experience in dealing with guests. Plus, we'll get to put an internationally well known corporation on our resumes. Not many people have the chance to do that. We'll also get to take classes taught by Disney professionals, which means we'll get the chance to learn new skills and learn more about the company. Also, the College Program can lead to Professional Internships with Disney.

Laur said...

I got my acceptance email for fall 2010 during my Political Science class at around 10AM. My next class was with one of my friends and I was really excited about getting in since I thought I would be rejected. Now, this friend of mine is a great person, but her first comments were about how the program is just a plain full-time job and that you work a lot. Needless to say, kind of a damper on my spirits.

Now, I do understand that what she said is partly true. And I guess I also understand that some people will just never get it. It's hard for people like us to believe, but not everyone gets excited by the thought of working for Disney. Especially if the job seems ordinary or plain like QSFB, FSFB, or Mousekeeping.

Kirstie Ward said...

I just found your blog and have to say 2 things. 1. I love your picture at the top, so cute!!
and 2. I have had the same problem with a bunch of negative people who are anti CP, think its a bad idea, etc. I think these people are either jealous that it isn't them going or just unappreciative. We have a golden opportunity and even being accepted is an honor. This experience is going to be w/e we make of it. good or bad!

Anonymous said...

I have yet to meet an individual who has returned from that program who has actually enjoyed their time there. One of them actually quit and it was all that standing between her and graduation. I certainly hope you all are the exception. I'm rooting for you all!

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