Is the College Program a good thing?

Discussion in 'The College Board' started by EdmondD, Nov 12, 2017 at 10:30 PM.

  1. EdmondD

    EdmondD DIS Veteran

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    It seems like 8 out of 10 CMs in the parks (and resorts) are in the college program. This appears to be a double-edged sword:

    Pros - they are insanely upbeat, enthusiastic, bright-eyed, and bushy tailed. They are too new on the job to be cynical and jaded. They are just so happy to be there, no matter what it is they are doing.

    Cons - The reliance on this near slave labor allows Disney (I am assuming - I've never been on the inside) to keep "regular" cast members to build long, lasting (i.e., more expensive) careers at Disney. So you have fewer CMs there who are dedicated to the company for life. Also, the CP CMs sometimes just don't know stuff. Like, basic stuff. And I've gotten wrong information more than once.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. rteetz

    rteetz Rumors and News Moderator Moderator

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    It depends on the way you look at it. Disney is a huge employer and Orlando doesn't supply as many workers as Disney needs all the time. This offers a way for employment for college students and gives Disney employees. Sure they are getting paid minimum wage but I think many go into it looking at the experience rather than so much the pay. Disney also includes housing in this.
     
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  4. EdmondD

    EdmondD DIS Veteran

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    Is this the case? I didn't realize that.
     
  5. rteetz

    rteetz Rumors and News Moderator Moderator

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    WDW is or at least used to be the largest single site employer in the US (62,000 in 2013 according to a quick search). Orlando is a pretty big city but even then you aren't always able to fill those entry level jobs all the time. One of the major questions asked when people discuss Universal's rumored third park is employees. Universal doesn't have a college program like WDW.
     
  6. MickeyWaffles

    MickeyWaffles DIS Veteran

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    I was in the CP and did it for the experience, not the pay. Housing was included (well, deducted from pay, so didn’t need to think about it.) My school didn’t accept credit for it so I took a semester off to do it. I will tell you that having the CP on my resume was a huge talking point in job interviews.

    The CP gets a bad rap from a lot of people - what does working in a theme park or resort teach you that school doesn’t? Answer: a lot. My career now is in Public Relations. In the CP, I worked in Hospitality at a deluxe resort in a couple positions. I was put in many situations where I had to think on my feet to solve problems and carefully word what I said to guests dealing with issues (so, yes, my guest services role taught me a lot of skills that I ended up using in my PR career!)

    I learned so much from my interactions with guests and how Disney handles issues.

    I know you are probably asking people who were not CPs if the CP is good or not, but I have been going to WDW all my life and I really believe in the program, especially after doing it.

    As with anything, there are people in the CP that are better than others. We travel to WDW every year and a half or so. For the most part, many of the people in the CP are very good. Most of the issues I’ve noticed lately are phone use or giving inaccurate information. We have had really outstanding CM interactions recently - CP and non CP.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017 at 11:25 PM
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  7. Bullseye

    Bullseye Faithful Companion

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    My DD is down there right now doing her second CP tour as a Photopass Photographer. They don't make a lot of money and can put in a lot of hours especially during the holidays. But she loves it. She is a media arts major, so Disney is a really good fit. Plus Disney is a world class company so that looks great on the resume. Some CP CM's put more into it than others. Some are more knowledgeable just because they've been going all their life and they're fanatic like the rest of us. I enjoy seeing them around the parks and reading their name badges to see where they're from. As long as they know what they should know as far as the park/resort they work at and their area of responsibility, I'm good with that.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017 at 11:29 PM
  8. dismsn

    dismsn Mouseketeer

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    My daughter was a CP several years ago. She loved it and met some wonderful people she still keeps in touch with. Yes, almost all of their pay goes to living expenses but they gain valuable skills: customer service, working under pressure, analytical skills (my daughter can create very efficient queues now LOL), etc.

    I assume Disney has trouble filling all the roles they have. I've seen they are giving gift cards in exchange for no housekeeping and I've read about contract disputes. In my opinion, the CP is a win-win.
     
  9. srwarden1928

    srwarden1928 DIS Veteran

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    My parents had a good friend who did a lot of job hopping early in his career. One day their family decided to move to Orlando, Florida when no one had heard of it--this was before Walt started the Florida project. He was hired by Disney before WDW opened and retired from Disney. He said it was far and above the best place he ever worked. Now this may not be the case for all of Disney's workers, but they sure didn't try to run him off.
     
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  10. FastPasser.

    FastPasser. DIS Veteran

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    The quotes below in purple are all from the previous posts and IMO depicts an accurate view of the CP. I'm in my third decade of working along side CP kids, it is in fact a "win, win" situation. The vast majority of CP kids know exactly what's in store for them and are thrilled when they find out that they have been accepted into the program.

    Many thousands of non CP CMs are not cynical and jaded and can be insanely upbeat, enthusiastic, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. I like to think that I'm one of them. After my very long service, I still look forward to going in every day.

    "did it for the experience, not the pay".
    "having the CP on my resume was a huge talking point in job interviews."
    "what does working in a theme park or resort teach you that school doesn’t? Answer: a lot."
    "learned so much from my interactions with guests and how Disney handles issues."
    "But she loves it."
    "looks great on the resume"
    "loved it and met some wonderful people"
    "the CP is a win-win."
    "it was far and above the best place he ever worked."

     
  11. goofy4tink

    goofy4tink No tags...not needed! Transportation moderator Moderator

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    My dd worked DCP from Sept '16-May '17. She had a pretty good experience. She wanted to stay in Orlando and continue working for Disney, but due to too many points on her record, she has had to wait six months. She currently works at US (very few hours) and is waiting to hear from Disney after interviews last week. She would dearly love to get pt with enough hours to make a living, but that's not going to happen, so has to work both WDW and US, hoping for at least 20 hrs at each park. No benefits have to be offered with this number of hours. She isn't alone in this situation...there are a lot of kids that would love to work more hours but can't. Disney doesn't need to hire these kids because they have DCP. And that's sad. Why? Because there are a lot of people that want to build a career with Disney, and that are willing to do what needs to be done in order to make this happen. They realize they may start by cleaning toilets or selling popcorn. But they know it's a means to an end. If only Disney would cut back on the DCP numbers and allow more p/t CMs to work. Sadly, the p/t time CMs get the short end of the stick because DCP kids get more hours than p/t CMs do....they're cheaper to pay and Disney gets a ton of money from DCP housing rents!
     
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  12. KenHutch

    KenHutch Mouseketeer

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    The daughter of a good friend of mine did the program twice and when she graduated she applied to Disney and they hired her full time. She credits all the people she met for her getting her foot in the door.
     
  13. FastPasser.

    FastPasser. DIS Veteran

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    That happens frequently. If someone's goal is to work for Disney, that's one of the advantages of participating in the CP. There are tons of former CP CMs. But the opportunity doesn't come to you, you have to make it happen. There are thousands of like minded CP alumni doing the same thing. It's not easy. It helps if you're in the right place at the right time and know the right people.
     
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  14. LittleMissMagic

    LittleMissMagic Victoria on Vacation

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    Is it a "good" thing? Hmm...

    For Disney, yes, they're utilizing college students for low-paying jobs. In addition to that, they don't need to provide College Program students with the same benefits they would a full-time employee. And on top of that, they don't have to worry about them unionizing against them. I'm assuming that the cost to train thousands of new CP employees every 6 months has also been factored in and that it is also more economical for Disney.

    As for central Florida, the unemployment rate was only 3.2 percent in September, so I would say that the influx of college students to take Disney jobs is not dramatically hurting residents who need jobs.

    For many college students, I'll say yes. In most cases, CPers are being supported financially by their parents, so low pay is a non-issue (many consider the experience more valuable than the $9/hr or however much they make on CP) - it's more like a study abroad.... to have fun and gain "real life experiences" that they can't get in school. For many, the experience is relevant to their major and career path (hospitality/tourism, communications, marketing, etc.), and many also have ambitions to one day work for Disney.

    Now when I would say the College Program is not a good option is when it is completely unrelated to a student's major (despite that they may want to work for Disney in the future), and/or will delay graduation. For example, I wouldn't recommend that anyone in the field of architecture (my discipline) go into CP because at most universities you'd be delaying your graduation for at least a year while gaining no relevant experience. If your ambition is to one day work for Disney, you'd be much better off gaining experience relevant to your field because that's what they look at when hiring Professional Interns and full-time.
     
  15. Alicenwonderment

    Alicenwonderment Mouseketeer

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    My experience may be a bit different from the way things are now since my first program was spring 97 and did advanced internship in spring 2000. I do not regret my decision to do the college program and advanced internship. I went into my first CP already knowing I wanted to do the YES program since my M. ED is in education. My CP was the first group that were required to take the business seminars. I think Disney was trying to restructure the learning part of the program. The seminars gave valuable skills that can be used anywhere. I also think that working for Disney helped me get a promotion at my summer job. Both me and another girl did the college program and were both asked to be in guest relations at the water park we worked at. I get a big raise in my summer job. As for taking time off from school I ended up paying for 10 credits through a different college and transferring them to my college. It is possible to get credits for the program. I actually was sent something in the mail from Disney telling about the Central Michigan program for credits. The only extra work was 2 interviews with different management positions and a paper due after the program explaining the living, learning and working experiences you had on program. Length of paper depended on how many credits you paid for. I guess I went into my first program knowing that I wanted to instruct the YES program. Yes, Cps are considered the lowest on the totem pole but I knew you can work your way up. I saw it in the upper management. Many of those people started on the CP. After my first CP I tried to stay connected by being our campus rep and trying to start an alumni group at my college. I guess I was very lucky with my job placement. I made some life long friends in both my programs. I loved my experience. Yes, it seems like a good deal for Disney because they don't have to pay much and get money from our housing. I think my roomies figured they do make a killing on charging us the rent. I was in merchandise and it seemed like the Disney FT got better more regular hours where cp kids got all the late night (2am)shifts. I think it was mostly Cps that worked grad nights. Some of the seasonal workers were retired and didn't really need the money but just wanted the free admission. I guess the biggest thing is I went in knowing what to expect because I had already worked in the amusement industry. I was willing to work my way up. I had already had a year in college so I knew how to handle money. On the program I think we were guaranteed a certain number of hours and at the beginning the hours were hard to get because nobody was in the parks in January. (I know it is not like that now.) I did not have my parents helping out with money like one poster stated parents helped out. Maybe that is a generational difference between the 90s and now. I don't know many people on the program with me whose parents sent them money to help out.

    I do have some reservations now from how I've heard the college program has changed. During my CP the numbers of people doing the program was far less than now. Every CP lived at Vista Way vs now with many different apt complexes. This means CP makes up much more of the employee make up. I think that having this looses something in the culture of the parks. The CP knows that the job isn't forever and the turn over so often can be hard for the rest of the cast members. I remember when I first met my co-workers they told me that they tried not to get close to the Cps because they leave. Lol. So for the other cast members the CP works with it is hard to constantly have to train co-workers at the worksite. It is hard to work as a team when every 5 months or so it all changes. Also I have heard that the training has been drastically cut. I think everyone was required to go through 3 days training into traditions when you first get to Disney. Now I have heard it is only 1 day. I think that can also make a difference in the type of cast member you become. Although I don't regret doing my programs I'm not sure I would have as great an experience with some of the changes I have heard about.

    Another employee that Disney used back then we high school kids that used Disney as an after school job. It may be this type of worker that looses out from Disney hiring more college program kids. I'm actually not sure if this type of worker is as common anymore. Many high schoolers elect to do a sport or join a club in school and not take a part time job. I know when I worked at the water park near my home most of the other workers where high school and college age kids. It was fun to work with kids the same age. The park never had trouble finding summer work help from high schoolers and college kids. Now come forward 20 years and the park was sold. Now the park has to bring in college students from different countries to fill those jobs. It seems that the type of kid that took those summer jobs is too busy with sport camps, internships etc. Why aren't summer jobs important anymore? There are defiantly enough locals in the area to do the work. Now they are bringing in workers and looking for families to take in these workers.

    Sorry I wrote a book on this. :tigger:
     
  16. HopperFan

    HopperFan "It's a bug-eat-bug world out there, princess."

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    Good thing for who? ...
    - Disney? yes
    - CPs? yes if there for right reasons
    - For Guests? yes and no

    Your Pros is correct ... they only have to put in 4-5 months so if they went for the right reasons, they should be upbeat the whole time. They fill undesirable hours the full timers often don't want.

    Your Cons is wrong and correct ...

    Correct in that they often don't know their stuff, even basic stuff and give wrong info. Why? They only have days of training, any given shift may result in managers of differing opinions, many have never been to Disney so have no base with which to work on and honestly just because you are in college doesn't mean you pick up fast or are a hard worker. 4-5 mos is might not be enough incentive to learn especially if you are the group there just to have fun.

    Wrong in that it is not slave labor. CPs earn enough money (if they don't give up shifts) to pay their rent and have plenty of money left for food and fun. Housing provides furnished apartments, cable, internet, pools & recreation and transportation. Is it all the best, no, but it is certainly nicer than many folks live. Does it mean dining out or steak dinners, no but you certainly can treat yourself sometimes. You have total access to Disney parks, and many get APs for Universal. It is a great learning experience into living with others, compromise, responsibility, working hard, budgeting, customer service ....

    DD was raised going to Disney, three visits by time she was 14 months old. Her entire college planning was around working for Disney long term. She applied and went after graduation. She spend at year there, working 3 different DCP jobs. She took some of their "seminar" classes. She worked under and had great interactions with managers. Between what she saw, experienced and what these managers told her about working for Disney ............. she decided it was not for her and applied to grad school. Having Disney on her resume helped getting in to grad school (tells them she is a hard worker, puts in the hours), get a few jobs (customer service, hard worker) and continues to be a plus on her resume. It was one of the best years of her life (even with the negatives) and she had a great time in Orlando. It helped her on her journey.
     
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