Networking is such an important part of the Disney College Program experience, especially for those who are looking to have a professional career with Disney after their program. I must admit; I’m certain I’ve gotten a few roles at Disney because of the networking that I did during my Disney College Program and Professional Internship.
But let’s face it; networking isn’t easy. In fact, it can be really challenging and sometimes even awkward. Who do I contact? What do I say? What should I wear? Am I wasting my time? Worse yet…am I wasting their time?
If you’ve ever had any of these thoughts about setting up meet-and-greets or about networking with other professionals, you’re not alone. Here at the Disneyland Resort, we try to help our participants network with other Cast Members as much as possible during their program.
Throughout the season, they have opportunities to network with their leaders, with our housing team and with contacts we have for them based on the areas they’re interested in. But my favorite networking opportunity each season is definitely our Disney College Program/Professional Intern Mixer where our participants have the chance to chat and mingle with over 100 of our current Professional Interns.
This event gives them the perfect chance to make a connection with other Cast Members from around The Walt Disney Company. Many of our participants apply for Professional Internships after their program, so getting the opportunity to speak with other professionals in that area and learn more about their role is something our participants always find to be very helpful and beneficial.
Our spring mixer at the Disneyland Resort took place last week and it gave participants an excellent opportunity to not only practice good networking, but perfect it, as well. When you’re only meeting with someone for a few minutes, you have to keep your dialogue short, to the point and focused around a purpose or a goal. By the end of the night, our participants all felt much more comfortable and confident with the overall networking experience.
They also learned that networking isn’t about quantity, or meeting with as many people as they can during their program. It’s about quality. Outside of the mixer, they may only meet with a few professionals during their program, but if they formed lifelong professional relationships with those Cast Members, that’s a success!
Now that they’ve met with over 100 Disney professionals…what’s next? For some people, the hard part is over and the night was a success. But was it? Our participants learn throughout the program that effective networking shouldn’t end after the goodbye or handshake.
We always encourage them to follow up with a thank you and make sure to keep that connection alive with a message every month or so. It’s great to form a professional relationship, but it’s so important to maintain that relationship with them. It could be days, months or even years, but you never know, that relationship they built during the mixer could one day help them land the job of their dreams.
When I speak with former participants, the one thing they always say to me is that they wish they had networked more during their program and taken advantage of these exclusive events, like the mixer. If you have the opportunity to take part in the Disney College Program, don’t let that be you!
Maximize your program and all of the networking opportunities to the fullest!