Mostly Marketing by Theresa B. Clarke

Sharing my love of marketing. Helping marketing students, marketing practitioners, & marketing professors connect with one another. Passionate about nurturing new marketing talent. Enjoys sharing novel ideas about a wide variety of topics…but mostly marketing.

To My MBA 625 Class of 2017

To My MBA 625 Class of 2017:

THANK YOU!

Thank you for being such a professional and talented graduate class.  It was a true pleasure working with eleven students from cohort #7 in the JMU Innovation MBA Program.

Thank you for the positive attitudes brought to each class.

Thank you for being open-minded when I said that MBA 625 uses non-traditional teaching methods and would be unlike any other course you have ever taken.

Thank you for your understanding at the beginning of the semester when we had to start the course online rather than in a face-to-face context.  Thank you for staying an hour late on that first day to ensure that the course was launched correctly.  Thank you for continuing to work well after the semester ended to ensure there was appropriate closure with your clients.

Thank you for flexibility in rearranging one of the online classes so I could go to my son’s Boy Scout crossover ceremony.

Thank you for the incredible efforts to serve your clients so very well and achieve their online marketing goals.

Thank you for sharing time, talents, and energy within and across teams.

Thank you for bringing the utmost in professionalism and responsiveness into the class.

Thank you for working so hard and at Herculean speed to get 16 weeks worth of work done in only 8 weeks.  (I’m still quite amazed at how you all do this!)

Thank you for the killer questions about the course content and how to continuously improve account performance.

Thank you for feedback and ideas on how to improve the class.

Thank you for putting trust in me when you didn’t necessarily understand why I said “do this” or “don’t do that”.  There was a method to my madness where nothing I asked of you was random, and everything had a distinct purpose in helping you learn and succeed.

Thank you for helping me grow as a coach and teacher.  Each team had very unique challenges during their respective course journey.  Each team kept me on my toes (and on a different toe I might add).  I feel drained from the experience, but drained in a completely good and satisfying way.

I truly enjoyed working with my masters-level GOMC Class of 2017 this semester and I wish them the very best as they finish the rest of their Innovation MBA program at JMU.  Good luck to Jesse, Jessica, Jonathan, Ken, Michael, Sarah, Sonia, Stephen, Steve, Teresa, and Victoria.

Sonia Allana, Stephen Kurtzke, and Sarah McGinnis

Steve Barranco, Teresa Comer, Victoria Landis, and Michael Lantz

Steve Barranco, Teresa Comer, Victoria Landis, and Michael Lantz

Ken Prevete, Jesse Springer, Jessica Drennon, and Jon Nicely.

Ken Prevete, Jesse Springer, Jessica Drennon, and Jon Nicely

Prepared to Make the Difference: Three Ideas to Help You Make a Really Big Difference

My faculty commencement address to the JMU College of Business.

Class of 2017, Congratulations!    You did it!

In the College of Business, we have a slogan…Prepared to Make the Difference.

  •    It means you are ready to hit the ground running and have grown closer to becoming a professional.
  •    You learned business fundamentals, collaborated in teams, and participated in our many experiential CoB programs.
  •    You are equipped with resources, knowledge, and connections to help you succeed.

Today, You ARE prepared to Make the Difference —and I want to share three ideas that may help you make a REALLY BIG difference.

  1.      Be courageous.

Think about a moment in your life when there was something you really wanted to do….but didn’t do it because you were afraid to try. My moment was as a child. I wanted to be a cheerleader for my school. But I was apprehensive about trying out, because I doubted my ability to make the squad. I didn’t know how I would face my family, my friends, and the world if I didn’t make it.  So I didn’t try out. It was the cowardly choice, not the courageous one. I. let. myself. down.

But what the experience taught me at a young age, was that NOT trying ALWAYS feels worse than failing.  NOT TRYING was a mistake I didn’t want to repeat again.  So I vowed to never let the fear of failure stand in front of anything I TRULY wanted to accomplish. I stopped caring about failure and I decided to become fearless, ESPECIALLY in my career. I still experience failures today, but I know it really isn’t that bad because I actually learn a lot when I fail and life does go on.  When YOU aren’t afraid to fail, you will wake up every morning willing—and eager—and full of courage.   And the more courageous you can become, the more that big, exciting, and meaningful opportunities will enter your life.  Courage can lead you to do some pretty great things as you try to make a big difference in the world.

  1.      Commit to lifelong learning.

Today, you begin a new frame of learning as a college graduate. There won’t be structured classes or professors guiding you.  We in the College of Business have done our part. Now it’s your turn.  YOU will be in charge of your business education going forth. Let me tell you why this is so important.

When I was a senior looking for my first job, I had good grades, I was an active leader in clubs, and I held an internship where I performed well. Back then if you applied for a job, bad news came through a formal letter in the mail. I knew I could either trash the rejection letter and be angry about it—or make it my friend. I decided to make it my friend, folding it neatly and storing it away in the back of an old filing cabinet. Eventually, that letter had a friend—and then another— and another until I had my-own-little-sorority of rejection-letter-friends.

Over the next few decades, while my rejection letters sat in the filing cabinet…the world of business changed in so many ways…laws, technology, societal trends, the consumer voice, big data, …so many things—but I continued learning — as those changes were taking place. One day I found and re-read all those old rejection letters, I realized something very important.  And here’s what I want you to understand—continuous learning WILL reward you in the long run.

One letter had come from a Fortune 500 Company—my dream job at the time. No job, but…a few years ago that very same company contacted me with a request to do some digital marketing consulting for them. That. Felt. Great!   Another one of my rejection letters was from a graduate school that turned me down.  Six years ago, that university invited me to guest speak in an honors marketing seminar. That felt pretty great too!

I strongly believe that business career success requires you to constantly learn. Class of 2017, I challenge you to continue learning so you don’t miss out.  If you don’t—and you know this—someone else WILL be learning and you’ll eventually turn stale and will be left behind in this highly competitive and dynamic business world.  Don’t let today be the end of your education.  Start by building on experiences you had as a business student—like studying abroad, being a member of a business student organization, service learning, and going on company tours. Find ways to carry those experiences on as a business professional.  Be that person who continues to learn— and you will find NO shortage of ways to make your big difference.

  1.      Cherish the good in every day of your life.

It will be hard to make those big differences if you aren’t feeling good. We all have bad days—but you can always find something to appreciate, even on your darkest of days, if you look.  I have a nightly ritual. I call it my blessing box. It’s a box I found at Michael’s craft store—it’s about the size of a six-pack. Inside I put 365 blank notecards—one card for each day of the year.  Every night, I pull out the card for that day and add the current year—then, I write ONE sentence about something meaningful from that day: an activity, an accomplishment, something funny, something joyful.  Just something good I want to appreciate and remember. Then I move it to the back of my box, and my card for the next day awaits me. In that little box, over the course of many years, I’ve ended up with a personal collection of special moments from every day, of every year. And it is rewarding to look back at the goodness in my life as I write on my card each day.

I have 365 of these.  Each card reminds me to be forever grateful for the people, passions, big experiences, and little moments that are so special. Writing on these cards and reading them each day made me discover that when you are in tune with the good in your life, you can better operate from a position of incredible strength.  And with that strength comes powerful insight that guides you towards where and how to make those really big differences in your life and in the lives of others.

Today might be a great day to start your own blessing box, or a journal, or even just daily moment of silent reflection.  What will you write or think about?   I hope it’s something that captures today as a cherished, positive, festive, and joyful celebration of your entire JMU and CoB experience that you shared with your classmates, friends, and loved ones supporting you today.

Tonight when I write the 2017 entry on MY May 5th card I will probably say: “I never imagined I would give a commencement speech, but I did…and it was a genuine honor that I will always cherish.”

On behalf of the faculty and staff in the JMU College of Business, we wish the Class of 2017 our very best.  We hope that you find courage, that you continue to learn after today, and that you find the good in every day of your life.  And, as you make YOUR difference in the business world, YOU — will – make – us – proud.

Dr. Theresa Clarke's Commencement Speech to the JMU College of Business Class of 2017.

Fall 2016 “Best IMC Plan in Class” Awards

Best IMC Plan” awards are a tradition in my Integrated Marketing Communications class (MKTG 384) at JMU.  At the end of the semester, students vote for the “Best IMC Plan” after viewing all presentations in their section.  Based on the student votes, our fall 2016 runners-up and winners are presented below, along with excerpted quotes from some of the students who voted for the the top teams.

 

The Runners-up:

Tie for the Runner-up Team in the 11:00 Section:  CLUB 384 and ENTHUSIASTIC PESTO PEOPLE!

Congratulations to Christian Durrett, Allison Gill, Alyssa Greene, Brad Videon (Team Captain), and Nick Yore from Club 384.  Congratulations to Julie Craft, Kassie Gesuelli, Sonam Gurbaxani, Michelle Mullins (Team Captain), Christi Staufer, and Adam Tamny from Enthusiastic Pesto People.

The Runner-up Team in the 12:30 Section:  HARRY POTTER!

Congratulations to Josh Bolson, Like Brower, Kendall Reulein, Sebastian Salinas, and Julia Shaffer (Team Captain) from Harry Potter.

 

The Winners:

The Winning Team in the 11:00 Section:  DYNAMITE DUKES!

Congratulations to Rob Farrell (Team Leader), Margot Leibl, Kayla Rasmussen, Lindsay Davis, Allie Bunner, and Hayden Towler.

 

“They had really good visual content, and everything seemed to flow and connect well.”

“This group had every touchpoint well thought out, explained, and researched extensively.  Their marketing was completed and executed well, better than any other group.”

“Really good visuals and creativity in label/logo, and promotional pieces.”

“The stick figures were a great idea that carried all the way through.  Visual summary was very appealing and easy to follow.  Loved the ideas and felt like it was the most put together plan.”

“I just really liked the simplicity.  I feel like it really resonates with the valley.  As a valley local, it is cool to see how you worked to understand what will work and did research on local events.”

“I think that, more than anything, a good visual summary is key in a situation like this.  They definitely started strong with that.”

“Their entire presentation was extremely thorough.  I love the use of the stick figures throghout.  I liked that the colors and their design was different than all the others, which mostly used green.  The name and logo are neutral but intriguing.  I really enjoyed their presentation.”

“They had a very interesting slogan that brought a sense of bettering lives.  Great hourglass packaging to create a more differentiated product.”

“I love their use of stick figures as well as their justification that it represents.  Their slides had just the right amount of text to be informative, but not information overload.  Their use of media was effective and visually appealing, and also consistent across all platforms.  Also, I loved their package design!  It was unique and consistent with their overall image of the Shenandoah Valley.”

“The visuals and message were very clear.  The logo and package were very appealing.  Loved the entire project.”

“This group did a good job of creating a very cohesive and integrated plan.  They incorporated the skyline mountains in most, if not all, of their communications and matched well with their product name.  The package and logo were very well done.”

“I think that this group was great from their slogan to the ideas and visuals.  I think they had a lot of great ideas about the execution and the product post-launch.”

“Their major selling idea was much different than all the other groups.  We were told by our client that the main goal for this product was to better the lives of others and this campaign encompasses that.  The design of the package was classy and different from competitors.”

The Winning Team in the 12:30 Section:  INCREDIBLY INDECISIVE!

Congratulations to Ian Wood, Kendall Lutts, Ryan Peter (Team Captain), Gabrielle Paolone, and Colin O’Brien

“I think this group had the best creative and unique product name, and the best slogan and package design. I think they came up with the best plan based on the strength of their creative ideas.”

“Loved the small creative aspects they used.  Creative ideas were the best and were well thought-out.”

“They used consistent imagery throughout their campaign.  Their cooking class idea was unique and an interesting way to build awareness and trial.  Also their target market personas were very detailed and specific.”

“Overall selling idea was great.  I liked their brand name especially and how they incorporated it within most selling ideas.  Their promotional ideas looked great also.”

“The name, logo, and slogan really stood out to me.  They had a clear and concise IMC plan that seemed like it could be successful.  I liked the idea of cooking classes, especially with their target market.  Overall I thought this plan was the most professional and most likely to succeed.”

“I thought their presentation was well thought out.  It was visually appealing and strategies were descriptive and realistic.”

“They visually displayed a realistic look on all of their touchpoints and promotional materials.  They integrated all of their ideas together very well.”

“I really enjoyed watching their presentation.  I think they had some great ideas about choosing a name with a meaning and having a slogan that matches the name.  They had great advertising ideas and their presentation was organized and put together well.”

“Wonderful radio ad!  Great integration throughout plan.”

“I believe they were extremely consistent, everything seemed visually appealing.  Their social media really pulls the reader in and makes them want to learn more.  I also thought the way they claimed the product provided ‘hope’ was well done.”

“I believe that they did a great job of communicating their objectives and coming up with great ways to accomplish them.”

“Overall, a highly professional, cohesive, clear, and strategic plan.  I was highly impressed with this group’s creativity and differentiation from all of the other teams in the class.  They took risks and it paid off.”

I truly enjoyed working with ALL of my talented MKTG 384 students this semester as they created social-entrepreneurship focused IMC plans for a local non-profit.  I am confident that our client will benefit from their efforts and terrific ideas about the marketing of pesto.  Thank you to all of my IMC students for a wonderful fall 2016 semester at JMU.




JMU Dukes win Gold at Fall 2016 DMAW/EF Collegiate MAXI

Lynn Radocha (Team Captain), Nicole Carothers, Briana Cifelli, and Bryce Pangman won first place in the Fall 2016 Direct Marketing Association of Washington’s Educational Foundation (DMAW/EF) Collegiate MAXI competition.  I had the pleasure of working with this JMU team during the fall 2016 semester as they prepared for this five-state regional case competition about direct/interactive marketing.  Read more about how JMU won top honors at the 2016 DMAW/EF MAXI.

Lynn Radocha (Team Captain), Bryce Pangman, Briana Cifelli, and Nicole Carothers at the DMAW/EF Fall 2016 Collegiate MAXI.

Lynn Radocha (Team Captain), Bryce Pangman, Briana Cifelli, and Nicole Carothers at the DMAW/EF Fall 2016 Collegiate MAXI.

Mariam Bekele Reflects on the 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Mini-Conference at Advertising Week New York

Mariam Bekele, JMU COB Marketing Major attends the 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Conference

Mariam Bekele, JMU COB Marketing Major

Mariam Bekele was a student in my MKTG 384 class (Integrated Marketing Communications) and a member of the JMU College of Business winning team that captured the 3rd Place Bronze Award in the 2015-16 Marketing EDGE Collegiate ECHO Competition.

Mariam recently attended the 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Mini-Conference at Advertising Week New York.  In this interview-based guest post, she shares  reflections about her experience.

 

What is the Diversity & Inclusion Mini-Conference and why did you decide to attend?

    The Diversity & Inclusion Conference is a one day conference presented by the American Advertising Federation in partnership with ADCOLOR. The conference, held during Advertising Week in NY, discusses solutions to the diversity and inclusion issues that still plague the advertising and media industry.  I first heard about the conference from Dr. Theresa Clarke. She was the professor for my Integrated Marketing Communications (MKTG 384) course last semester at JMU. It was actually in her class that I realized my passion for advertising. I visited her office to thank her for a great semester and for helping me realize my passion.  During our conversations, she suggested I attend the Diversity & Inclusion Conference at Advertising Week, NY  and then connected me to the College of Business’ (CoB) Office of Experiential Learning at JMU to learn about financial support for the trip.  Thankfully, Ms. Molly Brown, CoB Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs, offered financial aid through her office so I could attend the conference.

    I decided to attend because, as a soon-to-be marketing graduate I couldn’t have imagined a better opportunity. As a woman who comes from a multicultural background, I had a lot to take away from this conference. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to connect with individuals who have similar experiences and also learn from people who have succeeded in the industry despite the many obstacles they have faced.

What did you do at the conference, who did you meet, and what was your biggest takeaway?

The conference started out with a presentation by Norma and Hector Orcí. This husband and wife duo co-founded Orcí Advertising Agency and have been champions in understanding the Latino consumer demographic and helping companies in the US cater to their needs. I learned that firms can no longer afford to lag behind when it comes to the inclusion of minorities, especially since the US is on its way to becoming a “minority-majority” nation.  

Their talk was followed by a panel moderated by Renneta McCann, Chief Talent Officer at Leo Burnett. The panel focused on the experiences of different multiculturals at the workplace. Oftentimes, multicultural employees face micro-aggressions and stereotyping in the business world, especially since minorities only make up about 20% of business employees. That number drops down to 14% when it comes to minority business owners. Due to our small numbers, often times multicultural employees feel invisible in the workforce as a result of people’s unconscious biases. This panel discussed a variety of solutions to the issues faced in the workplace. I felt quite emotional during this part of the conference.  I identified with a lot of their experiences and it was nice to hear I was not alone. One of the biggest problems faced by multiculturals in the workplace is microaggressions from their peers. For the most part we ignore comments like “can I touch your hair” or “ do all black people love watermelon” but sometimes it can be more serious. ‘Idea hijacking’ is something that happens quite often. You are at a meeting, you suggest an idea and for the most part it gets ignored; a few minutes later another colleague will make the same point you did at the meeting but this time, everyone is listening and agrees that it is a great idea. Now this is enough to upset someone at the table, but of course you can’t say anything because if you do then you are perpetuating the stereotype of the “angry black woman” or the “aggressive black man”. A classic catch 22, it’s difficult to professionally react in such a situation. Nigel Adams Chief Talent Officer at Razorfish has an interesting solution to this problem, he calls it being ‘professionally obnoxious’. For example, when someone hijacks your idea at a meeting just be ‘professionally obnoxious’ and say “That’s a great idea, I think I’ve heard that somewhere….oh yeah, I just said the same thing five minutes ago”. Use your humor, be professional, but still get your point across.

Next, we had lunch and all the attendees got a chance to chat about our experiences. I met some great individuals that have been very successful in their fields, and who were kind enough to share their experiences and advice with me.

Following lunch, there was a panel that focused on the intersectionality issues women of color face in the workplace. This was probably my favorite part about the conference. The panel was led by Angela T. Rye, one of the realist and influential political strategists on-air. The panel also consisted of several other talented women who have shined despite the obstacles they have faced in the workplace. The panel didn’t resemble much of a panel, filled with humorous advice it was more like a conversation over lunch with my girlfriends. I could relate a lot to their experiences. It’s already challenging being a woman in such a male-dominated work environment, but being a woman of color comes with certain unique challenges that are different than those other women face.

One of the themes I heard at the conference, and personally experienced, was the feeling that they were treated as invisible and not heard in the workplace.  When feeling like you are treated as invisible, a lot of the panelists suggested speaking up in the workplace and reasserting your ideas and contributions. My plan is to always be prepared in the meeting room, and back up my business solutions with sound research. This is why these women have excelled and found their voice, in an environment that constantly tries to silence and ignore them. They have turned around and used their greatest weakness as their greatest strength.

The biggest thing I took away from this conference is to stay true to myself and stand by what I believe.  One belief that is really important to me is that if you are in a position where you are fortunate, you are obligated to help those who are not. And this conference made me realize that, no matter where I go in life and what I do, I need to always use my success to help others. I was really inspired by the solidarity among these women. I gained so much knowledge and insight from them. Some of them were kind enough to reach out to me personally and offer me advice and tips. In the future I hope to do more to support diversity and inclusion in our communities. For example, something I’m currently working on is  Fostering Abyssinia, which is a student-led organization that fundraises for the Kibebe Tsehay Orphanage in Ethiopia. As President of Fostering Abyssinia, I make sure that all of our fundraising efforts educate the JMU community about the diverse and rich culture of Ethiopia and Africa as a whole.

Do you have any tips for JMU students who want to attend the Diversity & Inclusion Mini Conference?

We are lucky enough to be a part of such a great institution that is always encouraging students to excel to their fullest potential. We are lucky enough to have amazing educators who are passionate about developing talent. Use it to your advantage and take on opportunities that will help you grow. The College of Business is very proactive when it comes to increasing diversity and inclusion. I also suggest you talk to Ms.Molly Brown in the CoB Office of Experiential learning at JMU as she may be able to share information about funding opportunities to help you attend the conference.

I also encourage everyone, regardless of their background, to attend this conference. Whether you are black, white, hispanic, asian, native American, I guarantee that this will be an eye opening experience for you, especially if you are considering a career in Marketing Communications/Advertising. Not only do you gain a lot of insight and knowledge but there are many individuals who are willing to share their experiences and help you in starting your career.  It’s also a great networking opportunity. In just one day, I gained so much knowledge that you don’t typically get in a traditional class. I connected with at least eight professionals who were interested in fostering new talent. A few of them requested I send them my resume and others wanted to keep in touch and give me personal career advice. I also met a few people that I will remain friends with throughout my career.

Last but not least, I want to express my extreme gratitude to the conference organizers, as well as Dean Mary Gowan, Associate Dean Molly Brown, and Administrative Assistant, Chris Shiflet for making this trip a possibility for me.

Photo Credit: Mariam Bekele

Photo Credit: Mariam Bekele

“The Invisible Ones: Women of Color” Panel from the 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Mini-Conference at Advertising Week New York

Left to right: Moderator Angela T. Rye Principal and CEO at Impact Strategies; panelists Shannon Washington of INVNT, Nita Song President at IW Group, Lucinda Martinez Senior Vice President, Multicultural Marketing at HBO, Ericka M. Pittman VP Chairman’s Office of Combs Enterprises, and organizer Tiffany R. Warner Founder and President at ADCOLOR.

JMU Wins Bronze in 2015-16 Collegiate ECHO

On August 11, 2016, Marketing EDGE announced the winners of the 2015-16 Marketing EDGE Collegiate ECHO Challenge. I am pleased to report that the team of Dorothy Capasso (Team Leader), Allie Hammond, Joseph Scully, Mitchell Meyers, and Mariam Bekele captured the 3rd Place Bronze Award in the undergraduate division.  The team developed an integrated marketing communications plan for Facebook Custom Audiences.  Learn more about this team and their exciting experience in this year’s competition.

Dorothy Capasso (Team Leader), Mitchell Meyers, Allie Hammond, Joseph Scully, and Mariam Bekele - 3rd Place Bronze Winners in the Undergraduate Division of the 2015-16 Marketing EDGE Collegiate ECHO Challenge.

Dorothy Capasso (Team Leader), Mitchell Meyers, Allie Hammond, Joseph Scully, and Mariam Bekele – 3rd Place Bronze Winners in the Undergraduate Division of the 2015-16 Marketing EDGE Collegiate ECHO Challenge.

Disney College Program (DCP) Tips from a JMU Student

Alexis-Moyer-2As I was exploring some research articles about Disney, I discovered the Disney College Program (DCP).  Through my colleagues in the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport, and Recreation Management, Dr. Michael O’Fallon and Dr. Reginald Foucar-Szocki, I learned that JMU has sent many students to Disney, including Alexis “Lexi” Moyer , a senior majoring in hospitality management with a double minor in theatre and business.  Lexi recently worked as a “FriendShip” boat captain at Walt Disney World.  As an effort to help JMU students learn more about the DCP, I asked Lexi to share her experiences via a guest post on my blog.  Thank you Lexi!


Overview

The Disney College Program is an internship that college students from around the country, and even around the world, can participate in during their college careers. Working at Disney means you are a “Cast Member” rather than an “employee” and you have a “roles” rather than a “job”.  Roles don’t always deal with your major, but sometimes they do.  There are many different College Program (CP) roles that one can pursue.  

The main purpose for pursuing an DCP internship varies from person to person, but the three reasons why I did the program are:

  1. I’m a hospitality management major at JMU and Disney is one of the world’s biggest and best hubs of hospitality and tourism in the world.
  2. I’ve wanted to do the program since I found out about it on a school trip to Disney my sophomore year of high school.  As a high schooler, I knew that Disney would feel like a home away from home once I went to college.
  3. I love Disney.  I grew up watching Disney movies and the Disney channel, I played with Disney toys, and I am passionate about the brand.

I spent my entire spring 2016 semester at Disney.  Although it required that I push graduation back a bit, I absolutely do not regret this decision.  In this guest blog post, I’ll share my perspectives on the application process, living the Disney life, housing, and life after Disney.

Application Process

Alexis-Moyer-3

Alexis Moyer working as a FriendShip Boat Captain at Walt Disney World.

The application into the program is a three-part process, and not everyone gets to join the program when applying. If denied, I recommend going back and trying again the following semester.  The three parts are, the initial application form, a web-based interview, and a phone interview.

The initial application form is just a general form about your work experience and to create your online account. There is also another section where you rank your desired roles by preference.  There are several categories of roles that the main website will summarize and there are four ranking categories:  “no interest,” “low interest,” “some  interest,” and “high interest.” When ranking you want to carefully consider how many roles go in each category. If you put “low interest,” there’s still a possibility of receiving that role, so choose carefully. You also only want to put “high interest” for a small number of roles, or else Disney may think you have no focus. You’ll have to wait on an email from Disney regarding the results of the application to determine whether you move on or not.  My wait was about 48 hours, but other College Program interns (a.k.a., CPs) have reported longer wait times.

If you make it past the first screening, the second application form is a “web-based interview,” and it’s a general personality test. They ask situation-based questions about guest service, your personality, and how to handle situations.  I watched a lot of Disney videos and read a lot of blogs and learned that Disney wants students who have opinions and are strong in their beliefs.  Thus, based on my research, I chose “strongly agree” or “strongly disagree,” and occasionally picked “neutral” for many of the questions.  I avoided “agree” and “disagree” to show Disney that I had strong convictions.  After the web-based interview I found the results out immediately, and moved on to the third interview.

The last interview, a phone interview, was the hardest for me. I scheduled a time for a phone call that was expected to last about 30 minutes. To prepare for the phone interview, I conducted thorough research and found some of the questions Disney might ask such as:

  • What role(s) do you feel most qualified for?
  • Which roles are in your top three choices?
  • Do you work better individually or in groups?
  • Have you ever been to Disney World/Disneyland? What did you think of your stay there?
  • How will the College Program help you professionally?
  • What can you offer the company?
  • What does Disney mean to you?

I prepared by writing some bulleted notes on how I would answer the questions. I also wrote reminders to smile and be happy because if you smile, interviewers can hear it through the phone.

The program timelines vary slightly, but generally there are four programs:  Spring, Spring Advantage, Fall, and Fall Advantage. I completed the five month Spring Program, and had a chance to extend to seven months, but declined the opportunity due to an internship lined up at home. I feel like five months was just the right amount of time for me for the DCP, but others may feel that five months is not long enough to do everything. I believe that anyone can extend up to a full year in the DCP, but after that they must apply to transfer for a part-time/full-time/seasonal position within the company or leave the program.  The beauty of Disney is that, they are always innovating and changing so many things in their business. I know that when I come come back to Disney, whether that be to work or to play, Disney will still be just as magical as ever.

Living the Disney Life

Disney provides housing that is optional, and most CPs will live on housing property in one of four complexes.  For more information about each complex, I suggest you check out this housing link, as well as research some on your own on CP alum blogs.  CPs get to rank their preference for each complex and Disney makes the final decision.  Some characteristics of Disney housing are:

  • Tons of housing events
  • You meet new people
  • There are buses
  • Housing provides cooking facilities
  • Housing is safe and secure (you must get past security gates)
  • You have to share a room
  • Rent is taken out of your paycheck
  • There’s not really a “dining hall” like on a campus (though there are oodles of restaurants nearby)
  • If you drive, the typical commute is 20-35 minutes
  • You most likely will pay for laundry

I was guaranteed 30 hours of work per week in my contract, but was asked to work more than 30 sometimes and was offered opportunities to work more than 30 hours.  Many cast members joke that CP stands for “closing person,” and while this is seemingly true for some roles, it’s possible to get morning shifts as well. Many days you’ll see CPs playing in the parks as guests and later on working in those parks as cast members, or the reverse.

When you’re at Disney, spend your time wisely. Play in the parks before work, go visit attractions in Miami, Clearwater, Daytona, Cocoa Beach, etc. while you’re super close to these areasl. Not doing these things are personally some of my regrets of my program. When balancing work and fun, don’t let one take over the other, if possible.

Life after Disney

Some people have been with the company for several years, including a manager of mine, Rafael. He’s been with the company in several roles for 36 years (and counting). The CP is a way of getting your foot in the door with the organization, but it also helps get your foot in the door with other companies. Disney owns a large assortment of companies, but influences so many other businesses as well. Just putting that you have previously worked for Disney tells future employers that you’re the cream of a crop, you were chosen out of thousands of students who applied, and you completed the program. It tells future employers that your guest service and customer interaction is top notch. And best of all, it tells future employers that you will do anything to make a guest happy (not satisfied, but happy and yes, there is a difference).

On resumes, it’s easy to phrase what you did at Disney to show potential fit with other careers. As an an example, I’m interested in hospitality, so my resume phrases my Disney boat captain experience around three of the four Disney keys:  safety, courtesy, and show.  As another example, my fellow CP boat captain wants to pursue a future career in transportation dealing with statistics.  On his resume, he phrased his Disney boat captain experience to include numbers and facts about how many people were moved around on boats, transportation times, and capacity rates.

Alexis-Moyer-1

Alexis Moyer (James Madison University) and Allison Cheek (California University of Pennsylvania) enjoying some time off during the Disney College Program (DCP).

Conclusion

While I was sad to see the end of my College Program, I think it helped me professionally and personally. As Winnie the Pooh says “how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I learned so much about myself and what I want in my future, had met wonderful peers and connections like my roommate, Allison from California University of Pennsylvania who worked with food and beverage, and had gained wonderful insight into the professional world that is Disney. For anyone inspired to join the DCP family, I would be happy to make professional connections with you on LinkedIn at Alexis “Lexi” Moyer. Hope to hear from you real soon!

 

 

Privacy Policy | Disclosures