So it’s coming up to that time of the year again. Summer applications for the CRP will be opening just as I jet off to Paris to start my next Au Pair job. As I said in my last blog, applying for the Cultural Representative Program was an on the fly decision for me, so being a year older and potentially the tiniest bit wiser I thought I would compile some CRP application tips I wish I had known at the time.
There are some really good tips for the specifics of the application process on youtube and other blogs which I can’t do justice to, so I’ll keep it more general.
- It sounds cliche but be yourself throughout. The best way to shine in your application is to be yourself and focus on what would make you the perfect Cultural Representative. Think of things unique to you that will really sell you to the recruiter, not just as a candidate, but as a citizen of the UK. For example, I focussed on my experience at an international school, in the theatre, as an Au Pair, and growing up in rural England.
- It’s called the Cultural Representative Program for a reason. Of course you should show a passion for Disney and specifically the Walt Disney World company and their service, but don’t lose sight of why they employ Cultural Representatives. Over 60% of Americans don’t own a valid passport, so they want you to come and share your culture as well as experience America. Talk about why culture is important to you and your experiences of cultural exchange, and having such an anecdote up your sleeve will be very handy in an interview. It’s about so much more than loving Disney.
- The facebook groups. Join the facebook groups! They are fantastic for making friends and sharing important information regarding applications, interviews, acceptances etc. But let some things be like water off a duck’s back. I can be a bit of a pessimist and struggle to be confident in my abilities in job applications, so I waited until my application was out of the way before joining so as not to dwell on what other people were doing that would make them so much better than me. Considering how much I convinced myself I had fluffed the final interview, not catastrophizing too much at an early stage definitely helped me focus on why I was a good candidate
- On a similar social note, make friends! If you are lucky enough to get to an interview, go for coffee in the morning or meet people the night before if you are staying over. The people you meet now could be the people you spend a year with stateside. Make the most of the opportunity to start making friends; having a good old natter with with these people can settle your nerves and distract you both before and after your interview.
- Look alive! If you go to an interview make sure you look alert, smiley, approachable – everything a Disney World employee would look like. Even if it is 9am and you’re in a room full of people, the recruiters will notice those making the effort. And definitely don’t shy away from a Yummy Jobs photo; show you’re keen to get stuck in!
- To wait or not to wait? Do you apply this time round or wait 6 months? I see this question asked quite a lot on facebook and it can be tricky to decide because it can be hard to know the timescale ahead. You need to be prepared for a fair amount of uncertainty. I applied in summer 2015, went to a pre-screen interview in September 2015, got waitlisted for a final interview (something yummy jobs seem to be doing more of), waiting until January 2016 for details of that interview, attended said interview March 2016 and finally got accepted on April 1st 2016 for a program starting November 7th 2016. That’s a lot of dates and a lot of time waiting that I hadn’t factored in to the gap year plan. Now the wait isn’t always as long as mine, but I had already waited 8 months to even get an answer, and would have been waiting longer if I got waitlisted after my final interview. However they do have a wide recruitment window; at the final interview I was given a 6 month period in which to specify my availability. The Disney recruiter and I joked that my mum might never forgive me if I missed my graduation, she said there would be no problem with accommodating that.
- So perfect the waiting game, but don’t put your life on hold for too long. Between applying and getting to Disney I will have worked as an Au Pair three times in different countries, been a Christmas Elf, graduated Uni, worked on a show for the Edinburgh Fringe, and surprisingly saved a bit of money. Know what you’re willing to sacrifice or not, but also know that if you can’t make an interview, then you will need to go back to the start!
- Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get through first time. There are so many initial applications for the CRP. After hundreds and hundreds of applications they got it down to just 46 of us at final interviews; it’s a lot to do with it being a numbers game. If you don’t get through first time think of how you can improve your application. Being waitlisted for a final interview made me wonder if I was one of the weaker applicants at that stage, but I used that time to strengthen my application.By the time March came, I could waffle on about all the cultural exchange I had done in France as an Au Pair, something which was lacking in my inital application.
- And finally, don’t stress. It’s not as scary or as difficult as you tell yourself. The recruiters are really nice and want to see you succeed, so just keep calm and hit that apply button.