Friday, February 15, 2013

Life Updates: Happy February 15th!

Sorry for the giant picture of myself, but my boyfriend sent me flowers, and I am kind of super excited about it. They're beautiful lilies and about half of them have not bloomed yet, so this arrangement is only going to get prettier in the next few days.

I have not blogged in forever! So this is just a very quick post to tell you about what's happening at this second and to link to some of the posts that have been a long time coming which should be up very shortly. I promise!

I'm still working at Pop Century and Art of Animation as a Lifeguard. I am usually working at Art with my friends Nemo, Squirt, Mater, Ariel, Mufasa, Simba, and....I think you get the idea. I really love all of the people I am working with. The coordinators, the guards, and the new CPs.  We are on 9 hour shifts, so I work 4 days a week and I have IST (inservice training) every other Tuesday. I also have a lot of random other trainings thrown in every so often. This week I had a round table discussion meeting with our manager and a few other new guards, mostly CPs. The meeting was only an hour, and our manager just read off some questions and asked for our experience as new cast members/guards. I didn't take much away from the meeting, since I am not really a new cast member. I've been here since September! I've really got a solid handle on everything in terms of being a lifeguard right now.

<Management side note> Even though I didn't get much out of the meeting personally as a guard, as a future manager I liked seeing how Disney does things like this. Our manager is very strict and by-the-book and sometimes it comes across as really unfair in stories I've heard from other guards, but when I hear her explain herself, I really respect how she manages. I also like that Disney/our department has so many little required meetings like this one. I've been to a showing of Finding Nemo, a departmental meeting, a Town Hall meeting, and then this round table. I can't give specifics about all the meetings, but even though it seems like a lot and not necessarily all vital to my performance as a lifeguard, it's comforting knowing that I won't fall through the cracks. And if I ever feel like I'm not being heard, I will have a chance at one of these meetings. </end side note>

*ahem* Like I said I have a real solid grasp on how to lifeguard, which really makes me think it's time to switch roles. Like something more related to my degree (I'm trying to make an exciting segue and tell you some news at the same time--but I don't think it's working).

Remember how I mentioned that I applied for Concierge, thinking it would be the perfect role for me? Well, I got a call January 29th from Casting saying I was approved for the role, but I was now on a waitlist...for who knows how long. Well, just as I was starting to despair that nothing would ever happen with that...I got another call from Casting! This one was on February 5th, last Tuesday. They said that I would be transfered March 10 into the Concierge Role working at All Star Music!

As much as I'd like to work somewhere as fancy as the Grand or Poly or my dream of working in the DVC resorts, I'm really excited for All Star!! Pretty soon I will be an expert when it comes to Disney's Value Resorts. Never something I'd think about boasting, but I've worked in them all, so if you have questions, I have answers!

What other updates do I have for you? Let's see. My mom and aunt are visiting me next weekend (eeeep!) for the Princess Half Marathon. And yes, I will be running in the aforementioned half marathon. They are driving from Indiana and should get to Orlando Thursday evening. We are going to do Universal on Friday, the Expo for the half marathon on Saturday, the race on Sunday morning, and then a screening of Oz (the movie) on Sunday afternoon at Epcot. I'm so excited for all of that!!

Anything else? Well, I bought some new Disney merch/presents for myself, but I'm going to save some of those for a new series I am starting called "Cast Connection Find of the Week." What I can share is that I bought a Belle coffee mug, which I'm already in LOVE with. I also bought a "Be Our Guest" decorative pillow, which says "Tale as old as time" on the alternate sign. I have been eyeing the pillow since they starting displaying them and being the hospitality buff that I am, it is the perfect pillow for me.

Okay, like a promised here are some of the posts to be looking for which will have some more specifics that this post. Have a magical day!!

Posts to look for:

*These links will be live once the posts are officially up!
Cast Connection Find of the Week
Train Like a Princess
Guarding the World: Pop Century Deployment
Guarding the World: Overheard by the Pool

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Conquering Concierge: Changing your Fate 101

photo credit
If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?

I used to be so good somewhat consistent with blogging. What happened?

Here's my concierge interview story and an explaination of why Merida has been replaying her infamous quote in my head for the past few weeks.

The Back Story

As you know (if you've read my previous posts) I went full time as a lifeguard at Walt Disney World Resort. You also should know that I've been sending out applications and resumes left and right for a more hospitality/leadership related job. A job that I can be proud to call my first real job out of college, since being a lifeguard doesn't count. Unfortunately,  none of those jobs inquiries have responded positively.

Another thing you should know to understand this story: Disney has "hourly transfer requests," which allow Cast Members to transfer to a different role (or location) with the company, depending on their record card and availability of roles. So as a very last resort I will use an hourly transfer to get into a hospitality role. The reason it's a last resort? I have to wait 6 months to put in a request. Then who knows how long it will take for said request to go through casting and if I will get my desired role. No, there has to be something else I can do. Something to change my fate!

I've been training with a girl from Contemporary in a similar situation to mine. We were both lifeguards on the College Program and now we're going full time after being deployed to Pop for about a month already. We're king of opposites though. I'm very positive about situations, trying to make them more enjoyable, while she's typically negative. We were talking about "being stuck" at Pop for full time, so I mention, "You know , worst comes to worst we're here 6 months (and then we can put in a transfer)."

To which she responds, "Well, ya. We're stuck here 6 months." 

I did not like the sound of that whatsoever. And that's really not how I run my life. So cue Merida.

photo credit
"If you had the chance to change yer fate, would'ya?" Yes, Merida!! I would.

The Concierge Story

So fortunately for me, someone pointed me to a Concierge posting on the Disney jobs website, and I applied immediately. About a week later I was getting antsy because I had not received an email about an interview, so I logged on to my dashboard. Turns out they were waiting on me to schedule an interview. THANK GOODNESS I CHECKED! Always check your Dashboard!! I could have missed out!

There was only three or four interview times open all on Friday (this was Wednesday). Thank goodness that's one of my regular days off. I signed up and started soaking in all the Concierge information I could.

My interview was at Casting, which is right across the street from Downtown Disney. This would be my third trip to Casting ever (once for College Program, once to apply for full time, and now for this interview). I donned my lucky career dress, my lucky underwear, perfect blazer, and enough confidence to get me a new job. And I walked into Casting at least 20 minutes early for my interview.

And then waited at least 40 minutes in the little reception area, while I started at the castle model, the skylight, and a video of other Cast Members talking about the 4 keys. And I got progressively more nervous. I wanted to talk over my potential interview questions in my head, but I was way to nervous for any of that nonsense. I watch countless people walk out of hidden doors. Either cast members or potential cast members. If you remember from my post about my College Program Check In, I sincerely believe Casting is a labyrinth made by Disney Jedis. Because it is.

That's the first test you have to past to become a Cast Member. Enter and find your way out of the labyrinth. Okay I'm getting off topic. That's enough about the Casting labyrinth. So back to me.

I've been waiting for quite some time at Casting. I turned my phone off once I sat down to wait, so the recruiter would not catch me texting and looking unprofessional, but I didn't have a watch and was going crazy not knowing how long I'd been waiting. I quickly turned my phone on to check the time. It was 15 minutes past my interview time. I wasn't really that annoyed, just relieved that I was going crazy. I waited a bit longer and then a man with glasses came out looking for me.

We shook hands. He apologized for running late with the interview. He said someone showed up late for their interview, which pushed the whole day back a bit. In my head I was thinking "Well, that person's not getting the job. Less competition for me!" And as horrible as that sounds, I needed that. I think it really boosted my confidence.

The Interview


He took me back into his office (or so I thought), and we sat down. He had a worksheet which he filled out with my information, and he went over how the interview would go. The worksheet had the questions that he was going to ask me for my interview. He also said that he likes to write things down, underline, and take notes and hoped that I didn't mind. I told him he could doodle, paint, and do origami if he really wanted to. The first thing he asked is what I thought the role of the Concierge was. Then he dropped (what he thought was a bombshell) on me.

He wasn't an HR or Casting Manager. He was actually the Manager of Club Level Concierge at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was expecting and preparing to meet with an actual recruiter. But I really was not surprised when he said he was a Concierge Manager. I didn't get the feeling that he was a recruiter, and he seemed more like someone with a lot of experience. So I feigned a little more surprise than I felt because it sounded like he really enjoyed surprising people by telling them that.

After that he continued down the worksheet with questions and anecdotes from his work life. I actually felt like I did a horrible job in the interview. I thought I was rambling. I was expecting more questions about my experience or times I had dealt with guest, but he didn't really ask any of those questions. So I brought up my experience anyway. I can't remember all the questions he asked. Just the last one. He asked "If you had full empowerment to do a service recovery for this family, what would you do?" The family had missed their dinner reservations, a fireworks cruise, and the son never got to meet Mickey and on and on.

At this point in the interview, I already thought I was doing a poor job, so I felt like I needed to do a really good job on this question. But this was why I wanted to be in Concierge at Disney, so I could learn some really great ideas for service recovery in instances like this. So that's what I told him. I told him I expected to have proper training which would help me deal with this and hopefully a manager to consult. Plus I needed more information, like how much longer was the family's trip, what were their plans for the next day, etc. And then I just kept talking. Seriously I think I blacked out for a bit and when I came back to I was still answering that question. But I made it through the questions.

Now it was time to start wrapping up the interview. He asked me if I had any questions. I asked him about the difference between the Concierge at the Front Desk and the Club Level Concierge, which may have been a poor idea because I pretty much knew my answer, but he really loved to talk so he went on and on about that. Of course I'm asking about his livelihood, career, and thing he is truly passionate about, which definitely shined through. After that I asked if there was any NextGen technology I could expect to be using when I went into the role. He couldn't tell me specifics, but he seemed pretty excited about that. Lastly I asked what he would've done for that family in the last interview question and he covered absolutely everything he would've done, which blew my mind and made me feel worse about my answer; however, I do have to keep in mind that he has eons of experience compared to me. Plus he's probably heard this question all the time.

After I asked my questions, he let me know the next steps. He said that I would get a phone call in 7-10 business days letting me know one of three things. One, sorry you're not right for the role. Two, you're not ready for Concierge yet, but we would like to offer you a Front Desk position where you can get some more experience. And three, yes! You're Concierge. He then said something that I over-analyzed in my head for the rest of the day, while I was trying to de-stress by eating ice cream. He said, "I definitely think you're a good fit for the role."

The Result

Like I said after the interview I had to recup and try not to think about it. I honestly thought it was one of my weakest interviews, but I had looked the part and smiled and I knew I was right for the role, so instead of overthinking it, I seriously just needed to forget about it for a while.

I wasn't able to do that, so those 7-10 business days were some of the longest in my life. I finally heard back January 29 through a voicemail, since they called when I was on stand. They said congratulations, we got the results back from your interview and you have been approved for the role. You will now be put on a waiting list for further openings.

Wait, what? You know how I said that my interviewer told me this would result in one of three phone calls? Well, the "congratulations, you've made the waiting list" was not one of them. I was incredibly despondent after this voicemail. Yes, I had gotten the role. But when would I start? 4 months? Sure that was still better than waiting 6 months to transfer, but I wanted to switch out of lifeguarding now.

So the week following that phone call was another long one in which I ate way more chocolate chips than anyone ever should, and I even neglected working out a bit because I was despondent and didn't care. Until finally I got the phone call I needed to hear. "Congratulations a spot is open and you will be transferring to All Star Music starting March 10. Have a magical day!"

So get ready for pictures of my new costume and posts about training to be a Disney Concierge!!

Have a magical day!

Your newest Concierge success story,
Julie