It was the end of May and all of my friends and classmates were either starting their “grown up jobs” or starting graduate school. Everyone wanted to know what was up next for me after graduation. When I would respond with “I’m going to work for Disney,” I would get one of two reactions. People would either think that it was really cool, or people would think I was a total weirdo.
Now, I’m not the kind of person to let other people’s opinions of what I should be doing hold me back. But still, it made me feel uncomfortable every time I got an negative reaction.
The worst reaction was from my father. He was not in support of me putting off graduate school, and consequently putting off getting a well paying job. To him, it was immature and irresponsible for me to put my life on hold to move to a glorified amusement park.
It’s true. I was putting my life on hold. This would put me one year behind in my career goals. Working for Disney wouldn’t benefit me career wise in anyway (I am hoping to work in the medical field as a speech-language pathologist). There was literally no practical reason that I should do it.
In all honesty, although it was a difficult decision, it didn’t take me long to make it. That is because I knew, in my soul, I was destined for Disney.
Life is short….but at the same time, is it really?
According to a quick google search, the life expectancy of the average American is 78.69 years. That means that even if I absolutely hate my experience or totally regret this decision, I will have wasted 1/78.69 or 1.27% of my total life. To me, this seems like a calculated risk I am willing to take.
Here’s another way to look at it. As previously mentioned, by moving to Disney I will be setting my career back one whole year. That means rather than joining the workforce at age 25 (after two years of graduate school), I will be joining the workforce at age 26. This means that if I retire at the minimum age of 65, I will be working a total of 39 years rather than 40.
In the end, if I really can’t find a way to make ends meet when I hit retirement age (because I irresponsibly took a year off after college) I think I can stomach working until I’m 66 rather than 65.
When I’m on my death bed at 78.69 years of age, I doubt that my biggest regret in life will be taking that gap year after college. In contrast, I might look back on this time when I’m old and gray, and wish I took the opportunity to work at the most magical place on earth when it was given to me.
DCP was the best decision for me, but is it for you?
If you’ve made it this far and I still haven’t convinced you to drop everything and move to Florida, that might be because doing the DCP is NOT the best choice for you. Just because what was best for one person doesn’t mean that is what’s best for you. It is important that you know you should not feel any shame, guilt, or unworthiness if you decide to pass on this experience.
In an attempt to help anyone who is still on the fence, I’ve come up with some things you should ask yourself before accepting or denying an offer.
Do you have money saved up? This is important because, although you can expect to work a lot of hours, you’re not making big bucks. Especially during your first week there (you’re not making any bucks at that point). Therefore, you want to have saved at least a few hundred dollars to help you survive the first week when you’re not working at all, and any other weeks where you don’t get scheduled as many hours. Plus, Disney is full of magical temptations that lead to you spending way more money than you ever anticipated.
Do you enjoy working? It’s easy to look at current or past CP’s social media and believe that their lives are all pixie dust and Mickey bars. That’s because most people use social media as a highlight reel of all their favorite memories rather than the hard times they might want to regret. Plus, who has time to take a selfie when you’re busy crying yourself to sleep out of pure exhaustion?
In reality, most CPs should expect to work between 35 to sometimes 60 hours a week. This means that 20-35% of your entire week is spent on the job, and another 33% of your time should be dedicated to sleeping if you want to keep your sanity in tact. This leaves less than 50% of your time for you to juggle standing in line for Flight of Passage, stuffing your face with churros and Mickey bars, and capturing the perfect candid photo in front of the Purple Wall.
Just go into this experience knowing you’re going to play hard, but you’re also going to work hard.
Do you get homesick? This one is probably inevitable. I know I am not immune to missing my friends, family, and boyfriend after not seeing them for months. The thing to consider is, have you gotten homesick after being away from them for only one or two weeks in the past? It’s important to think about this because it’s going to be much more difficult to be away for an entire semester. If you are prone to a more debilitating type of homesickness that leaves you up all night crying rather than sleeping, then the DCP may not be for you. Your mental health should always be your first priority.
Do you feel comfortable living with strangers? You can use the Facebook pages and other social media to get to know people before arriving. Even better, you can convince your friends to do the program with you. However, it is not guaranteed that you will end up living with them. For my program, we are allowed to link up with a maximum of three other people, and when you link up you almost always will be placed with them in an apartment. If housing has limited space at the time, that number can shrink down to two or even one other person. Either way, nothing is guaranteed and you won’t know for sure until you check in on your arrival day. If the idea of potentially having to live with strangers is not for you, then consider either living off Disney property or skipping the program altogether.