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Life After Disney: How to Survive Interviews

I worked at the Magical World of Disney as a photographer for three magical, tumultuous years.  It was real, it was fun, and some times it was real fun; but there comes a point in every human being with a drip of common decency’s career when you have to leave all of that fun behind.  The only problem with working at Disney is leaving Disney.  Which brings me to this…

So this is a story all about how…I managed to survive job interviews after working at the House of Mouse. 

Disney is your Golden Ticket

I’m aware that Charlie (or Willy Wonka) and the Chocolate Factory is not a Disney reference but you know what I mean.  Walt Disney is so close to being a monopoly that that little car is practically driving around the Magic Kingdom.  They have ties to everything in the business realm, they also train businesses on how to be successful.  My aunt’s job sponsored one of those Disney Institute classes a while back and she works in health care IT.  So having Disney on your resume does have some clout…as long as you are outside of Orlando, FL.  You will interview with people who were in the College Program.  You will meet people who want to know all of the Disney secrets.  I definitely got my current job once they saw Disney on my resume.  But then again, I also had 10 years experience in the field. 

The Bullshit is Real

May I be Frank?  Working at Disney teaches you one very important skill. The art of lying.  You have to be able to look a grown person in the face and go say, “No ma’am, it will not be another person, there is only one Mickey.  You say yesterday he talked to you?  Well he met a lot of his friends yesterday at Magic Kingdom and he didn’t drink enough water and lost his voice.  How many bottles of water have you had today, you should have at least 1 per hour.”

This is where I make note that my degrees are in Business, Creative Writing, and Public Relations.  I went to school and studied how to spin the truth.  And then I found a job that allowed me to utilize my talents.  Every time I had to have an interaction like this I put another $5 towards my student loans. This is a very important skill.  The ability to bullshit is important in most fields.  Even if it is just the ability to make it look like you are really excited about a job that you don’t really want but will pay the bills.  

Tell us about a time…

This might be my favorite question in interviews.  It was this question that actually made me want to stop going on interviews and just do freelance or be a YouTube personality.  “Can you tell us about a time when you had to deal with a less than pleasant client.”

Where do I begin?  The last interview that I went on that they asked me this question I watched this guy’s respect for me drain out of his face and pool on the conference table. I worked in the Entertainment department.  I spent my days with entitled guest, bratty children, and fictional characters. OF COURSE I have experience with “less than pleasant” clients.  But even as I told this story I felt like the girl from American Pie.

So this one time, at Magic Kongdom, I was taking pictures of the Seven Dwarves.  Yes the Seven Dwarves, you know…like…Snow White and.  Well they only come out once or twice a year at the holiday parties so there is a really bug draw for them.  This one lady has a 3 month old son, dressed completely like Prince Charming.  Now technically, it was Cinderella’s Prince Charming and not Snow White’s Prince.  By the way those are their names.  But any way, she walks up and places the little cherub on Dopey’s lap, takes a step back, directly in front of the camera takes a picture on her phone and then picks up the child and walks away.  There are including the character attendants and photographers a total of 4 women of child bearing age standing there.  When we saw this kid there was a collective uterus clutch.  He was adorable!  When she picks up the kid we all start objecting, “wait PhotoPass! PhotoPass!”  Doc, Sleepy and Grumpy are all waving and pointing to the camera.  She waves and proceeds to leave. We all wanted a copy of this picture and was snatched from us.  Thirty minutes later.  The lady comes back “you didn’t scan my band”.  I will admit that my weakness is my dark sense of humor.  I smiled and told her, “I’ve got one better, we didn’t take your picture.”  I was about to continue and tell her that I would personally talk to the head attendant so that she can cut the line and try this all again, just make sure you don’t block the camera this time.  But before I could take a breath, she starts yelling “We waited in this line for 2 hours!  We have the Memory Maker!  What do you mean you didn’t take the picture!  That is your job!  Luckily for me the head attendant, who adored me, heard the whole thing and came over. And explained that “since the previous interaction was so quick and everyone was excited it just happened that way, but as soon as this family is done, you can go back and have your picture taken.”  For my part I made sure to point out where the camera is so that she wouldn’t block it this time.

In retrospect, that is more a story for how the attendant handled the situation.  I utilized my staunch wit, a dash of sarcasm, and the ability to smile and flutter my eyelashes; which Snow White taught me.  The point is some of these situations, while very entertaining to tell don’t always get your point across the way that you would like.  So keep that in mind.  This is a very popular question in interviews so make sure that you have a GOOD story to tell.

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