If College or International Program participants on the East Coast have questions about the living component of their program, they are referred to Housing. But what is “Housing?” Did you know that Housing is actually comprised of several different teams, all with the same goal of ensuring our participants have an unforgettable and seamless program experience? Although we share a common goal, the responsibilities each team has are very different.
This post is the second in a series that will highlight each team within Housing so you know how you can best direct your inquiries and become more familiar with the friendly faces that are here to assist you.
After receiving the coveted offer letter welcoming them to the Disney College Program, the next question on many new participants’ minds is, “Which apartment complex am I going to live in?!” Our Housing Placement team, made up of one leader and two coordinators, has the challenging task of placing our over 8,000 College, Culinary, and International Program participants into their Florida home away from home. I spoke with Jessica, one of the team’s coordinators, to see how her team works together to achieve their goals:
What does a typical day for you look like?
Our role tends to be cyclical. My team is constantly working to make sure everyone has a place to live where they will have a successful program. We go from preparing for large and small arrival groups which come 40 weeks out of the year and assisting with check-in, to ensuring we have enough inventory through moves, apartment consolidations and program extensions. We also assist with the management of professional intern housing, and depending on the time of year, we help them reserve their spot in and check them into housing, as well.
What goes into placing participants into their apartments?
When placing participants, we look at quite a few factors.
First, we try our best to not split up any roommate preference links.
Then, based on the number of roommate links that a participant has, we try and place them into their highest possible choice of apartment style. Of course, we have to take into account their gender, alcohol prohibited/permitted, along with the preferences of the rest of the arrival group.
We also try to prevent apartments from dropping below 50% occupancy, which is why matching program end dates is so important.
In what ways do you assist or interact with our participants?
We have a lot of interaction with participants before they arrive by answering questions and providing information pre-arrival. We also play a large role in the check-in process on arrival day. Once participants have arrived, our main interaction is assisting with apartment moves. Whether the move is voluntary or not, we try our best to place participants into their highest choice of apartment and prevent future moves for them as well as their roommates. In addition to this, we have to effectively manage our inventory so we can successfully welcome more incoming arrivals.
What is the most challenging aspect about your role?
Making sure we have enough inventory for incoming participants can be a challenge. Sometimes when we have arrivals, we have more males than females, or vice versa, or sometimes more participants are over 21 while more are under 21. Depending on where the vacant spaces are, we may need to move current participants around to allow for our new arrival mixes.
We try very hard not to move current participants unless it is necessary, but it is something we have to do.
What has surprised you most about your role?
I was on the Disney College Program in Fall 2009, and I lived in Patterson Court, which was a brand new property back then. I never realized everything that goes into trying to provide a seamless experience for our participants. From check-in to check-out, we are constantly working to make processes faster and more efficient.
I also never realized how many different arrival and departure days we have, as we currently welcome new program participants over 40 weeks of the year from groups of 15 to 1,500 participants!