Hands down the best work abroad program in 2018 that will change your life is the Cultural Representative Program (CR) at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. If you haven’t heard about it yet, this post might knock you off your feet.
Disney International Programs offers three programs for young adults. The Academic Exchange Program, the Cultural Exchange Program and the Cultural Representative Program.
We will (for now) have a closer look at the latter. Why? Because, out of the three programs mentioned, the Cultural Representative Program is the only one that you can apply for without being enrolled in College/ University and that runs for a whole year.
As a Cultural Representative, you work at one of the countries (pavilions) showcased at the Epcot Theme Park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. These countries include Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, South East Asia, Sub Saharan Africa and the United Kingdom.
You represent your country by providing a traditional, hospitable and authentic experience to the guests visiting the park. And you are placed in a Food & Beverage or Merchandise role.
Related posts: Best degree to work abroad: Hospitality Management, 5 Study Abroad Programs for Girls That Love to Travel, 6 College Degrees for Girls that Love to Travel
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To apply for the Cultural Representative Program at the Walt Disney World Resort, applicants have to meet a number of basic requirements. For example, you must be at least 18 years old, speak English fluently and hold a passport of the country you are applying for.
The duration of the application process differs from country to country but can take up to 6 months. While you might be able to apply for the work abroad program all throughout the year, the interviews only take place once or twice a year. The final interviews take place at a city in your own country and must be attended in-person.
After the interviews you receive an answer from the Disney International Programs Office, accepting or denying your application. If you are accepted, you are immediately appointed a starting date, which is chosen according to the availability you communicated before.
Attention! Not all countries are recruited by Disney. Some countries use official recruiting partners to find participants. Please refer to the list below to find the right contact.
Given the high-amount of International workers Disney recruits every year, program participants receive a specific Visa, called the Q1 Cultural Exchange Visa. The process to obtain the Visa is quite straightforward and will be explained to you in detail by the Program Officers.
Usually, the process will include the following steps.
First, you receive a I-797 petition form, which will be sent to you by Disney. Afterward, you must complete an online application, called DS-160 and schedule your appointment with the US-embassy.
Next, you will attend the appointment at the US-embassy where you have to conduct a short interview. Finally, if you filled out everything correctly, your passport will be sent back to you within 10 business days.
One of the best parts of this work abroad program is that you do not only work with people from around the world, but also live with them. As a CR you live in one of four housing complexes located in Lake Buena Vista in Kissimmee, Florida.
Each complex features resort-style amenities such as fitness centers, swimming pools, and computer rooms. The different apartments in the complexes house up to 8 people in shared rooms for two. The costs range between $116 – $134 per week, which are directly deducted from your paycheck.
Luckily for internationals, transportation is offered to cast members who live at one of the housing complexes. According to a fixed weekly schedule, shuttle services from and to the different parks/resorts as well as to grocery stores (Walmart/Publix) and malls are provided.
The Duration of the Cultural Representative Program is one year. During these 12 months, you work in your assigned role, which is either Merchandise or Food & Beverage. The starting salary in both departments is between $10 – $15 per hour, with a minimum of 32 hours per week.
As usual in hospitality, participants must be prepared to work Monday through Sunday and on holidays if needed. However, you have two days off per week, which can change periodically.
No matter if you work in the F&B or Merchandise department your daily tasks will always include, greeting and interacting with guests that visit the store or restaurant and selling food & beverages or Merchandise. In addition, you will also handle the cashiers and do some minor cleaning.
Within the two departments, participants rotate between different sections or functions. Meaning you are assigned to different parts of the pavilion and perform a variety of tasks. Depending on your role in Food & Beverage, you might earn a fortune once you get into a tipped position.
- Work at the place where dreams are made (how cool is that)
- You receive free entry to the Walt Disney World theme parks almost every day of the year (including tickets for up to 3 family members/friends)
- Company discounts at Disney owned shops, hotels etc. Just so you know Disney practically owns Orlando, so you get discounts EVERYWHERE
- You are only a 4-hour drive away from Miami. Perfect for a weekend trip!
- You live in freaking FLORIDA for one year
I could go on and on why the Cultural Representative Program at the Walt Disney World Resort is the best work abroad program and still my favorite year EVER, but I think now it’s time you check it out for yourself!
On the official Cultural Representative Program website, you can find a list of all countries available for the program. However, a few countries are represented by third parties and a little harder to find. Here you can find a complete list of the countries including the link to the respective recruitment companies.
Countries recruited by Disney:
Countries recruited by third parties:
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