Thoroughly enjoyed my 16 months at The Walt Disney Company. A lovely, supportive culture, Disney is definitely a company that is keen to invest in you as a person- make the most of all the opportunities that are available to you; your year is exactly what you make it! The placement year at Disney is definitely not your typical intern job, you will get fully thrown in to a real role with rich responsibility which in turn gives you the confidence to go above and beyond within your role.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the culture at Disney. I was expecting a very corporate hierachacal structure. However, I had a lovely supportive team who made me feel at home straight away, reassuring me that no question is a silly question. This really helped me to learn quickly within the role as I felt comfortable to ask those important questions. I can confidently say that you could ask any cast member within the company no mattter what the level of their role, if asked for a moment of their time to ask them questions or to learn more about them and their role, everyone will make time. I genuinley have nothing bad to say with regards to the culture and colleagues.
My team could not have been more supportive. This wasn't just at the beginning when I was new to the role but was consistently sustained throughout the year with weekly one to ones focusing on me and my personal development. All areas of the business that I wanted to shadow, I was able to and any personal improvement areas that I wanted to improve on, was actively encouraged by my manager. for example, before leaving we had several mock interviews to prepare me for postgraduate role interviews and so that I could become confident with talking about my role and what I had achieved in the year. I will definitely stay in touch with my managers and they have already offered to help me when applying to roles post uni.
As with any job, workload varies from time to time depending on what is going on in the industry and in the wider world. Completing my placement through Covid-19 meant that naturally there were times where things were at a bit of a standstill due to uncertainty. This was a great time to reflect and do some personal development work, as well as some analysis of the business mdoel and to look at process improvement- there was always work to pick up on no matter what the business climate looked like.
In my role, I was the primary point of contact for all of our promotional licensees within EMEA. They would come to me for any issues they had on concept development, contract management and for franchise information updates. I felt like I had lots of responsibility- it was nice to feel like I had ownership of part of the business myself, which has given me a whole lot of new confidence which I will take through with me to my next role. After speaking with many interns across the company, I feel like responsibility ratings would be high across the board.
I have gained many skills in the last 16 months which will be so valuable going forward. Most importantly my confidenc in myself, what I have achieved and belief in myself and the skills that I can bring to future roles is an achievement which I am incredibly happy with. In my last few months of the placement I really utilised the training sessions available to staff to really enhance those valuable competencies going forward. I know for intern intake 2020/21 there will be an intern specific training and learning programme which consists of lots of useful intern only training sessions to really enhance your employability skills and to give interns the chance to network across the business- which will be made particularly difficult this year as a result of Covid-19.
The office is based in Hammersmith, London. I remember being blon away in my visit to the company when I went for my assessment day. The office has a cinema on the first floor where you can watch all of the latest releases in your working time. There is a Disney Cafe as well where you can get Mickey waffles for breakfast which is also nice. Generally the office is an open plan large office which makes it easy and welcoming to be able to communicate with different team members across the business.
Through my experience at Disney, I feel as though there wasn't a set 'programme' if you like and from the beginning it was very clear that for me, the internship was going to be whatever I made it. By that, I mean that whatever I was interested in, I could voice that to my team and they would try to intertwine that within my daily role. I think year on year my role has changed between interns depending on the changing needs of the business. I saw quite a significant shift in my time at Disney as we saw the monumnetal acquistion of 20th Century Fox and the global pandemic, Covid-19.
There are lots of opportunities available. It is very much down to you to seek these opportunities out and to use the resources available. In the new intern intake 2020/21 there will a tailored programme just for interns, which will be actively introduced and encouraged at the beginning of the year. I think this will be really useful to enhance intern experience and to get interns interacting and networking across the business. Definitely make use of resources available- people being the most valuable asset! So make sure you network with as many people as possible and really make the most of your year!
Working from home
There are no grad schemes available at Disney. However, when you speak with people across the business you will realise that a lot of people started out as interns and have either come back straight after university or have gained experience in other sectors and at other companies before returning to Disney. This is very reassuring to know and means that everyone is very understanding of interns and the process of the internship programme. Definitely use your placement year as a platform/foot through the door, leave your mark and I am sure it will place you in great steed when applying to Disney again!
The internal comms team have been working year on year to tailor events to interns and the onboarding programme. From my personal experience, we had several networking and screening events when we first started- these were great as you could enjoy a Disney movie in the cinema along with some free drinks- perfect way to get to know the other interns! If you're interested in extra-curriculr and networking more widely across the business, you can get involved in the Business Enterprise Resource Groups (BERGs) and the Disney Voluntears group. These are great for networking with cast members that you would never normally work with.
Living in London is obviously fairly expensive- lots of interns live together (that are 200 interns recruited each year, which makes up 10% of the workforce in Hammersmith), most aim to leave in the hammersmith/shepherds bush/fulham area so that you're close to work for commuting and also then means that you're never to far to go home after a night out! Expect to pay around £750 per month for rent- depending on how outgoing you are will depend on how much spending money you'll need to budget for at weekends. But the spending is limitless if you like being out and about! It can still be manageable on a budget too!
Hammersmith has quite a nice few pubs surrounding the office; some of the favourites include Distillers, All bar one, hop holes and Belushis. These are all great because you can flash your Disney card and normally get discounts and deals! The great thing about Hammersmith is that it is not far from central- you can be in the thick of all the central bars withn half an hour of being on the tube! The list is always endless when in London!
not loads- but as mentioned above, you can join the BERGs: women @ disney, Disney Diversity, Disney Pride and Disney Trust. With these you can help and volunteer to support the events they put on. You can also participate in volunteering with the Disney voluntears group to help in the multiple CSR activations that the company are across. I personally helped out with some christmas parties when partnered together with Together for Short Lives. We hosted christmas parties for terminally ill children and their families- this was very emotional but rewarding.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
8th September 2020