Monday, August 12, 2013

Interview a CP: Meriem (Port Orleans Hospitality)

Meriem (left) and her best friend at work!
Meriem was my first really close friend that I made on the program. As she explains in her interview, we met on the Facebook group page nearly five months before the program even started! She had the opportunity to participate in one of the most competitive roles in the Disney College Program in one of Disney's most popular resorts!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
My role was hospitality (front desk) and I worked at Disney's Port Orleans Resort, at both French Quarter and Riverside.

What was a typical day like at work?
A typical day at work for a hospitality cast member (if you're front desk, there's runner as well) was getting to work, and signing out your bank. You get one at the beginning of your shift and count it out to make sure the exact correct amount is there for the last person. Then you go out to the front desk to your supervisor to get a station. If they aren't standing there, you can usually just pick one for yourself. You get the key for the drawer to lock your bank in, and then log into the system (called Lilo). Then you have usually an eight-plus hour shift checking guests in, checking guests out, getting extra towels and linens and other things sent to their room, and unfortunately sometimes dealing with really big problems. When your shift is over, you'll unlock your bank drawer, return the key, count out your bank in the back and head home. Oh and hospitality cast members get a one hour lunch break.

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
This role was my first choice, since my major is hospitality business. I was very lucky to get it because they don't give a lot of CPs this role!

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
My favorite part of the job is a tie between getting to learn firsthand how a hotel works, and getting to see families and couples and everyone that comes to Disney at the very start of their trip. Checking into the hotel is usually the first thing they do, so everyone (hopefully) is really excited to be there, especially the kids. This is the first impression of Disney World on the guest, so we make it magical! We have mickey stickers at our stations that we can give out to them, and obviously each kid is different, but most freak out and love it!

Any specific magical moment you want to share?
I had the most magical of magical moments. I started to check a guest in, a FL resident only staying for two nights. I thought eh, she's probably a passholder, this might be normal for her, nothing too special. We started the check in process and I commented on her wonderful Vera Bradley bag, which then led to a ten-minute conversation about the Vera Bradley store at the outlet mall near Chatham Square (my apartment), and all the other stores. Which led to more conversation. Which ended up being a 30-45 minute conversation with this guest while checking her in. This was not a regular conversation. She was amazing! So sweet and so kind, and I didn't want her to leave and stop talking to me. Anyways, eventually she had to go and I thought she was so great that I went to one of my managers and asked if we could send her a treat tote (at Port Orleans and maybe some of the other hotels, we have treat totes with little snacks and different things that we can send to guests. The tote says Port Orleans.) We usually send them to honeymooners and things of the sort, but you can send it to anyone who you want to give an extra little magical moment. So I got this treat tote sent to their room, which was at about 3PM or so.
(From left) Lizzie, Meriem, Sydney, me and Sara!

 At 8PM I go on my break, and my friend Charmaine comes to get me twenty minutes later saying there's a guest that is asking to see me. Unfortunately in our role, when a guest wants to see you, 95% of the time they are mad, so seeing that I was eating and on my break, I got pretty annoyed. She kept smiling and saying no he's not mad, just come out. So I get out to the desk and I see the guest I was talking to earlier with her son. She comes up to me and says, "My son has something to give you." I just looked at him and crouched down and said, "Hello!" He was holding something behind his back. "Close your eyes!" He said. (By the way, he was about 5 years old.) So I closed my eyes an when he said I could open them, he was standing right in front of me holding out a flower he had picked. When they came back from the parks and saw the treat tote there, which they didn't know I sent cause there is never a name on it, they just assumed I had. He was SO happy and said he wanted to do something for me. I almost started crying! His mom came and gave me a hug and thanked me, and I told her after I checked her in I got my manager to send it because she was so amazing. She asked to speak to my manager, so I got him, and then two days later I got a GSF card because when she went home, she e-mailed the hotel and mentioned me by name. It was literally the best moment of working at Disney. 

What made you want to do the DCP?

The main reason I wanted to do the DCP was because I am a Hospitality major, and Disney has everything for that: Theme parks, hotels, restaurants, recreation. I also knew it was fun, but I never NEVER could have guessed how life changing it would end up to be, and all the amazing life-long friends I would make (*cough cough* Sara is one of them!)

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
I wish I had known how hard it would be leave. Not just the place, but also the people. The life-long friends you will make. You can go back to Disney, and you can do another program, but it will never be with the same people at the same time. A friend of mine that did her program in Spring '12 just had a reunion for four days with three of her best friends from her program. That sounds tempting.

What advice would you give to those who want to participate in your role?
Honestly, hospitality is such a hard role to get. I think the best bet is to really talk it up in your interview. Make the interviewer see that you have passion for it, and give them a good reason to offer you the position. If it’s your major talk about that, talk about why its your major. Talk about making a first impression on guests.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
It will be the best and most emotional (in a good way) experience of your life. However, Tinkerbell doesn't sprinkle fairy dust on you and just make that happen. You gotta get out there, talk to people! I met Sara on the DCP Facebook page five months before we even got there, or knew if we had gotten in. I also found my roommates that way, and it worked out great! Hopefully you will work with some amazing people like I did, and honestly, at the CP events and everything, just be friendly! Everyone is in the same boat. So make it magical, and cherish your time there, because it goes by WAY too fast.

If you're a current or past college program cast member and would like to share your experience, email your name and role to to participate!

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