Whether this is your first internship or 100th, starting a new position can be very overwhelming. I can remember a few years ago when I first started my Professional Internship with Disney, I always wished there was a guide on how to set myself up for success during my first week. In order to help you make the transition from Student to Professional Intern, here are the things I would prioritize during your first week for a successful internship:
1. Review your onboarding and training schedule
You should have received your onboarding information detailing the specifics of your Orientation(s) during your first week. Make sure to add them to your Outlook calendar and communicate your schedule with your leader and team so they are aware of the timing of these Orientations. Additionally, your team should have scheduled time/training for you to go over your responsibilities or projects. Take lots of notes and remember to always ask any clarifying questions.
2. Make time with your Leader, Co-workers, and Partners
Most likely your leader will already have time set on your calendar. During my internship. I remember how vital it was to stay connected with my leaders by having weekly 1:1’s and always keeping them updated on my work and projects, but I also found it extremely valuable to make time to build connections with my Co-workers and work partners. Your co-workers can be a great resource if you have any questions or need any help along the way. If you will be working with any other teams throughout your internship- it’s a good idea to make time to meet and connect with them. Just remember- Disney is a global company so be mindful of time zones and team members who may be working in different locations when setting up these meetings!
3. Communicate and Understand Expectations
I remember when I was a Professional intern how important it was to have a clear understanding of my projects, responsibilities, work hours, break etiquette, and communication preferences. It was helpful to know exactly what my team expected of me and what I could expect from them in return. During your 1:1 meetings with your leader and project partners I would recommend discussing the following expectations:
- What are their communication preferences?
- Do they prefer to receive updates via Outlook, slack, or IM?
- What format do they prefer for your 1:1 meetings?
- What are their expectations for your start and end time? Do you need to communicate your lunch break or errands?
4. Get set up with communication tools
There are a lot of great ways to communicate and stay connected throughout the workday. Below are a few different tools I regularly used during my internship and would recommend setting up and pinning to your taskbar:
- Outlook– This will obviously be used to send and receive emails but also don’t forget to make time to set up your signature! You can get some fun ideas from your fellow team members and co-workers. I also would recommend looking at your calendar
- Microsoft Office– Double check to make sure you have PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and Word ready to go!
- Microsoft Teams– One of my favorite ways to quickly check in and connect with my colleagues both during my internship and even today is through Instant Messaging. Microsoft Teams connects to your Outlook calendar and will let you know if others are busy, away, or available to chat.
- Slack– Once you sign up, ask your leader if there is a slack channel for your team. During my internship, my team used Slack daily to share ask questions, send updates, and even share fun pictures and gifs of our weekend. Make sure to join the intern-specific slack channel where you will get updates on events and get the chance to meet interns across the corporation!
- Zoom– During my internship, I learned that we have cast members all across the globe. Zoom gave me the platform to connect with them face-to-face. I loved being able to virtually meet and build relationships with my colleagues, partners, and clients from different locations. Make sure you not only set up your Zoom profile but also install the Zoom Client App so you can easily access your upcoming meetings. For scheduling meetings- it may be helpful to install the widget in Outlook.
- Other– You may need access to shared folders, drives, SharePoint sites, special software to perform your daily tasks. Make sure to ask your leader if you will need to set up or install any other communication tools or software for your internship. You may need to work with IT and it may take a few days to get these installed.
5. Bookmark Inside Disney or The Hub
Inside Disney and The Hub are Disney’s global internal intranet sites where you can find information, resources, news, and segment information tailored to you and your role. The Hub is specifically for DPEP and Florida-based interns that have specific resources for the Parks and Resorts segment. Inside Disney is used across all other segments. On either platform- you can easily use the search bar to navigate the sites. I loved being able to read and learn more about my segment and the other segments of The Walt Disney Company. You will find awesome stories and information to help you understand how you fit into the greater puzzle. Whether you are using Inside Disney or The Hub, I would recommend favoriting and familiarizing yourself with the following resources:
- Rostr– Our online directory of all cast members and employees at Disney. When I first started I looked up my team and made sure that I had at least introduced myself to everyone either in person or virtually through Slack, Teams, or Zoom.
- DtoolsIT– If you have any technology problems or access issues the IT team should be able to assist. They are available via phone, online, or chat. You can open a ticket and live chat with IT who will be able to help you resolve any technical difficulties that may come up during your internship. Some common
- DtoolsHR– Make sure you look up how to pay yourself and log your hours by searching the keywords “enter my time”!! The process to pay yourself varies across the company. The cool feature with DtoolsHR is that it pulls the information based on YOU – so you will only see the steps that YOU follow to pay yourself! This also will be where you can find your tax information and W2 information for the end of your internship.
- Dlearn- Our virtual learning platform. You may have an orientation or some compliance training to complete during your first few days. Once you go to the site- you will be able to see what has been assigned to you on your learning plan. I would recommend getting knocking these out in the beginning of your internship while you have more capacity.
Your internship time will fly by so start thinking about and planning to network early! If you don’t know where to begin- start with your meet and greets with your co-works, team members, and partners. Disney is such a large company and most people have a unique Disney journey. You never know where someone has worked and if they could share some information that could help you along in your journey. View every meet and greet as an opportunity to network. If you need help making more connections, let your leader know what your interests are and see if they have any colleagues they can connect you with! Some great questions to ask in a networking situation are:
- How did you get into your current role?
- What are your main projects or responsibilities?
- What has been your favorite role/project? And why?
- What software/skills have made you successful in your role?
- What are your recommendations for someone looking to go into this field?
Throughout the duration of your internship become a knowledge sponge. Internships are amazing opportunities that offer you real-world experience and a better sense of direction in life. Network and set up a time to connect with other teams and leaders in areas that interest you. Take this opportunity to learn as much as you possibly can. Just remember – you are not expected to have the answers to everything. It’s okay to not know how to do something and ask for help.
Lastly, be confident in your abilities. Among hundreds and sometimes even thousands of applications, your team believed in you and your abilities to get the job done. So, relax and enjoy your time as a Professional Intern at The Walt Disney Company!