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Old 10-11-2007, 07:58 PM   #1
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The Disney Summer Associate program

Hi everybody! I've been lurking and poking through threads for almost a year now, but almost never post.

This past summer I worked at The Walt Disney Studios as a Summer Associate in Studio IT (I rebuilt a web service for movie print management). I loved it, it was the best summer of my life. I thought I'd post about the program here, because all I see is talk about the College Program, and also there really isn't much information on the web about the summer associate program. When I applied, I just thought I was applying for an internship, because DisneyInterns.com doesn't say anything about the Studio having a program.

The Summer Associate (for some reason they like to call it that instead of interns, but we all called ourselves interns and it really is an internship) program for the Studio had about 80 interns, about 60 undergraduates and 20 graduate students. They hired in all areas - I had other friends in IT, friends in marketing and legal and feature animation. You're given a mentor who you work with - my mentor was the head of a small department/team of 10 people working on this web system, and I was the only intern with the group. They treated us really well. Every other Friday we had lunches for graduates or undergraduates with people around the Studio who told us what they do. I went to lunches with the head of Walt Disney Records, the marketing director of Feature Animation, and Dave Smith (who is The Man of Disney Archives, writing the Disney Encyclopedia and all sorts of trivia books). There was a big screening of Pirates of the Caribbean for us in the theater on the lot, and they took us to Disneyland at the end of the summer and gave us a great tour - they took us in fastpass for all the lines and we got to go behind the scenes to see the parade float warehouse (and were paid for the day ).

Best part of all for me was that I worked on the Studio Lot. Not everybody did - some people were other places in Burbank or in Glendale, but I was. It was so much fun. There's even a Disney Store on the lot (and we got an employee discount). I went in there every day. There were also events from the Disney Archives like old TV program and movie screenings that you could go to that were also shown on the lot. I even got to see an employee preview of Ratatouille during my lunch break a couple weeks before it came out.

The requirements differ for every area, but the main requirement is that you've completed your sophomore year (you can apply for the summer after your sophomore year) and that you will be returning to school in the fall. You don't have to be a College Program grad or anything. It is paid - I made $16/hr with a 40 hour week - and they want you to work at least 10 weeks during the summer so it's pretty much all of summer break. They don't provide housing, which is why they don't advertise too much outside of California I think, and I was one of the few who didn't go to school or live in California out of my friends there. I managed to find a place to live fairly easily, and if that's what you want then I'd say that's not too much of a setback.

There were similar internships in Imagineering, Consumer Products, Media Networks, and the Internet Group. If those are the areas you want to work in at Disney, I think this is probably a bigger foot in the door than the College Program. There isn't really an organized site about it, but the internships tend to be posted by December/January on DisneyCareers.com (just search for "intern" or "internship").

I know this is ridiculously long, and probably sounds like an infomercial, but I had such a fantastic time and nobody seems to know about the program anywhere, so I thought I'd let you all know! Also my friends are completely sick of hearing me talk about Disney, so I figured here I could bore a whole new bunch of people

So feel free to ask me questions! If I don't know the answer, I can ask somebody. And sorry this got so long

Last edited by spbink; 10-11-2007 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 10-12-2007, 06:59 AM   #2
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Wow, this sounds like such a great program!
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Old 10-13-2007, 10:52 PM   #3
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I'm actually applying for this program for the spring! I just came across it on the Feature Animation site and thought I would try it out. I'm getting my portfolio ready to send this month, so hopefully I can get it. Did they have any opportunities for full time employment at the end or give you any info on getting a job with them? How did the process of getting into this program go? I know you said there were quite a few of you, but since I'm going into the animation portion, I'm just wondering how competitive it is.... Anywho, how long did it take for you to get an answer and it says on the site they help with relocation, did they help you? And where did you end up living??? Alot of questions I know, but I am curious since this is something I am really interested in.
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Old 10-14-2007, 11:27 PM   #4
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Good questions!

They don't interview immediately for employment, since all interns are returning to school in the fall, but they did make a database of intern resumes which they said they'll use when looking for other jobs, and your resume is put in the disneycareers system (though you probably are already there if you applied). You also get contacts from your interviewer and mentor, and they have several events about 'what comes next' if you want to stay at Disney, giving you more connections. Some people who really worked it, like a friend of mine who was an intern in financing who met with all of the VPs in his division. I mostly just talked to people through the events and in my group.

I think applying to animation is a bit different, because my friend who worked there had help through them for housing, when the general summer associate program doesn't do that. They also are looking at your portfolio, so that aspect is different - I didn't have to give a portfolio, I just talked about my experience in my interview. I lived in Pasadena with a family friend, which was fantastic since Pasadena is really nice. If you get in, I recommend looking in Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena. A lot of Pasadena is ritzy, but Caltech is there so there's probably a lot of summer sublets from college students.

This is what my application and interview process was like:
  • I applied in December - the position was put up on DisneyCareers.com in October - through DisneyCareers.com.
  • Then I waited, and waited, and waited.
  • In early March, I got a call from someone in the HR department saying that they had liked my resume and wanted to interview me. We scheduled an interview time for a few days later, for a half hour phone interview.
  • I had my interview with somebody in HR. She then looked through the positions I was qualified for and passed my resume on to two she thought would be a good fit. Then I had to wait to see if they wanted to interview me.
  • Over the next two weeks I was called and emailed to set up the phone interviews - one took longer to schedule than the other, because they schedule it around the groups time. You're interviewed by the mentor or group you will be working with all summer.
  • I interviewed with both groups. One interview went really well, one not so much.
  • I heard back from the HR person I first interviewed with, who had kept in touch the whole time, asking how my interviews had gone and everything, and she told me that the second group had passed, but the first group chose me! Woot!

After that it was just a lot of planning out your schedule for the summer, filling out paperwork, and wishing school would end faster. I exchanged a couple emails with people in my group before I got out there, but not much. (They were great, by the way. If any of you ended up in their group you'll be super lucky.)

I'm not sure how competitive all the programs are, but I know that for the position I got, they interviewed seven people. That was after the first interview where my resume was sent there, and my impression was that they get given resumes of more candidates than they end up interviewing. So, fairly competitive, at least where I applied. Since they take people in all different areas, I bet some are more popular than others.

Good luck with your application!

Last edited by spbink; 10-14-2007 at 11:49 PM.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:23 PM   #5
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If I complete a PI in Spring '08, would I be able to do the associate program during Summer '08?
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:30 PM   #6
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I assume so. You'd just have to make sure your application is in and you're available for the interviews.

There are no prerequisite Disney programs for the internships, so if you've never worked for the company you've got as good a chance as anybody else. If you're worried about the school requirement part, as long as you plan to return to college the fall after the internship then what you do the semester before doesn't matter.
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Old 11-02-2007, 11:37 AM   #7
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Wow, thank you so much for posting this. I would never have known about it otherwise. Firstly what is PI? I keep hearing about it and am utterly lost. Secondly, I live and go to college in Canada. Do you think that will make a difference? I really would like to do this maybe as my co-op requirement (I am taking Travel and Tourism Management).
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:52 PM   #8
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PI is Professional Internship. Those internships are usually in the park. Here's the official page. They're usually more involved than the college program - if you're studying Travel and Tourism Management, this is probably what you want to apply for instead of doing the college program.

The internship I did was at the Disney Studio, so I'm guessing it's not quite what you'd want out of a program (although they did have an Event Planning internship - I had a friend who did that if you decide it's right for you - I could put you in touch with her to ask question). There were also interns in Parks and Resorts, mostly in Imagineering, and that might be something that would be helpful to you. I'd search for "intern" or "internship" on disneycareers.com and see what comes up that looks interesting.

I'm almost positive that being a US resident is not a requirement. It say under the requirements for a given position if it is though.
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:54 PM   #9
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Thanks :D. And if you could that would be great. Event Planning is acctually exactly what I want to go into when I am done school.
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:01 PM   #10
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I'll send an email off to her now

If you want to know more about the PIs, I'm sure there are better people to ask on this board. I didn't do one, so I'm not 100% sure what opportunities you have there, and there might be things they do that would be perfect for you too.
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Old 11-07-2007, 10:09 AM   #11
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i am approaching 21 years of age, a 3rd year due to graduate this year from portsmouth university in the UK
i want to work at disney this summer but am approaching graduation and would like to work for 3 months at disney after i graduate so would be rather late around august time, but i worked in philadelphia last year so would like to work in california if possible, and plan to travel around california and maybe elsewhere before returning to the UK. I could only come across internships and i wanderd if this was available. can you help me.


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Old 11-16-2007, 11:06 PM   #12
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Well this internship would not be available to you, because they only take students who still have at least a semester left of school. If you've already graduated, you won't be able to do this internship. Sorry!

In other news, they've started accepting resumes for next summer. Here's the information (To see the specific area listings, type that number into the keyword search on disneycareers and it will come up):



The Walt Disney Studios encompasses the creation, production, promotion, sales, acquisition and domestic and international distribution of live-action and animated motion pictures, videocassette and DVD releases, live stage plays, and music and soundtrack recordings

We are offering an exciting Summer Associate Program, providing Undergraduate students a hands-on opportunity working in the entertainment industry. This highly competitive program brings together students from around the country with diverse backgrounds and focuses on creating an educational experience for them at the Studio.

Eligibility: This program is open to all undergraduate students who are currently enrolled in school and have completed their sophomore year. Students must be returning to school in the Fall to be eligible.

Length: Assignments will last approximately 10-12 weeks during Summer 2008.

Location: Burbank and Glendale, California. Students must provide their own housing and transportation.

Compensation: Associate positions are full time, paid employment opportunities plus a 20% merchandise discount.

Qualifications: Hiring decisions are based on your major field of study, past work/internship experience, and extracurricular activities. We are looking for people who will make the most of this great opportunity.

How to apply: We are currently accepting resumes. Please go to www.disneycareers.com to apply. We have opportunities available in the following areas:

Accounting/ Finance: Keyword search: 116009

Production: Keyword search: 116010

Marketing/Publicity/Special Events: Keyword search: 116011

Legal/ HR: Keyword search: 116012

IT/ New Technology: Keyword search: 116559

Operations/Supply Chain: Keyword search: 116560
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Old 11-17-2007, 12:17 AM   #13
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That sounds awesome!
I'm so jealous that you got to know Dave Smith... One of my dream jobs is to work with Disney Archives...
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Old 03-22-2008, 05:51 PM   #14
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I enjoyed reading your posts about the Disney Summer Associate Program in Burbank.

I actually will be an undergrad intern this summer on the Lot and had the following questions:

-- What is the typical dress? Recruiter said 'business casual' like a button-down shirt and khakis.
-- What is the timeframe of the workday? 8 to 5 PM?
-- Do we eat lunch on the Lot?

I really appreciate any help you can provide.
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Old 03-22-2008, 11:28 PM   #15
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Definitely something I'd like to do, but the fact that they don't provide housing is a big setback.
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