Good News

I wrote this about a week before I left Disney, but I wasn’t ready to share it. I’ve been in Charlotte for one week now, and I am so thankful for that.

 

 

I write today with unexpected yet wonderful news: I’m moving away from Orlando! I say “away from Orlando” because it’s a little unclear as to where I’ll be moving.

These are the things that I know:

– My last day of work with The Walt Disney Company will be August 31.
– I am actively pursuing engineering jobs in the Greenville SC area.

You may absolutely NOT tell me to reconsider this decision, it’s already been made. That’s all I’m going to say on that matter.

I came to Florida for a reason, and I’m leaving for a reason. I’m thoroughly enjoying building my life and finding what makes me happy, and I don’t regret anything for one second. This experience has been life changing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m so thankful to be finished with long distance relationships! Austin and I will never spend a significant amount of time apart again. EVER. It’s done. This was the deciding factor which caused me to end my program early. We have been dating for 21 months, 16 of which have been medium to long distance. NO MORE. I want to take a moment to say that Austin did not once ask me to leave my program. Even when I officially decided to put in my two weeks notice, he asked if I wanted to look for other jobs in Orlando and continue working toward Imagineering. This was my decision. If Austin were not in my life, I would finish my program and then move back to the Carolinas, but I can’t see the point in extending our time apart.

I can’t wait to get back into Mechanical Engineering! I’ve had a couple of phone interviews with companies in the upstate, and I’m so ready to get started in the industry. I’ve learned a bunch of new skills while working in Watercraft, and I look forward to finding application for them in my usual workplace.

I am also super excited about the personal discoveries that I made while on College Program. First and foremost, my dreams have changed. I don’t long for Imagineering, and I don’t care to live in Orlando. I find myself wishing quite frequently that I were home – in South Carolina. That is where I need to be, and I’m grateful that I have the ability to return without major consequence. I’ve learned a lot about myself in Orlando, just as I did when I lived here two summers ago. Orlando is truly the city beautiful, and it has been such a wonderful pallet cleanser for me. My head is clear and I know what I need.

There are a lot of reasons to leave the College Program. For those of you who are participating or plan to participate in DCP, I encourage you to do so. My reasons for leaving are strictly personal. I had a marvelous experience with the program. I loved work and classes, I made friends, and I enjoyed exploring my options with the company.

So many of you will have questions about my plans for the future. Please don’t ask me any of them. I’m still working it out, and your questions will add unnecessary stress and tension to my life. I’ll provide you with a rough outline here:

I’m looking for jobs in Greenville, and there’s a possibility I’ll have an offer soon. In the meantime, I’m taking what will fit in my car to Charlotte on Sunday September 1 to be with Austin. He and I will return to Orlando briefly to get my furniture on September 14th/15th. We will move the furniture into a storage unit in Greenville so that I can get out of my lease in Orlando. Yes, it’s complicated. The details aren’t important to you, what you need to know is that (hopefully) we’ll be in Greenville soon!

I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with Austin. I’m excited to start that life in Charlotte for the time being, and I’m excited to find our way to Greenville together. I’m excited to see where my career takes me, and I’m excited to get started on that path. I’m excited to move. I’m excited to get a fresh start. Please help me be excited that I have your support.

As for Disney, don’t worry. Many of you know where my heart lies and will find this news hard to believe. Austin and I will make regular visits to Orlando at least once per year. I won’t forget my home, but I’m happy that I have grown to appreciate other things. I was raised in those parks and that will never change. Don’t worry about me ending my time as a guest and a fan – that’s not going to happen.

So…. anybody hiring in Greenville? 😉

Moving and Check In

So I’ve been in Florida for about 5 days now. Let me tell you about my moving experience.

It was really hard. If you are thinking that moving is easy, you are very wrong. Well, hang on. Maybe not. My experience was unique. Austin got off work in Charlotte at 11 pm on Friday. We had to drop his car off at the airport, so we left Charlotte around 12 and got into Clemson at 2 am. We woke up at 8 am and went to pick up the Penske truck. Because of the slope of my driveway, we had to park the truck on the street. That means that we had to carry everything up two stories, essentially. We started working around 9 am and finished at NOON. My pedometer said I walked THREE MILES back and forth from the truck. It was awful, but mostly because we didn’t have help – there were only two of us. So after that mess we went over to my friend Trevor’s house for showers and lunch. Trevor is amazing. We left his place around 1:30 and then drove…… we stopped in Gainesville around 10 to pick up Lizzy and Ben (my sister and her boyfriend) and we all got in to Orlando around MIDNIGHT. At that point, we brought in the mattress and a couple of suitcases, and that was it. We woke up around 10 the next morning and brought everything else in, but this time it only took an hour and a half because we had six people (Me, Austin, Lizzy, Ben, and my roommates Garrett and Heather).

So here’s what I learned:

Moving with furniture is hard. Moving without helpers is harder.

So I have spent the last few days working on unpacking and making this place my own, along with exploring and getting to know my wonderful roommates. Fortunately, Disney has very little planned for college program participants on the first few days. The only thing we’ve done so far is check in, and here’s how that works:

We showed up to Vista at around 8 am and I finished around noon… Garrett and Heather took about an hour longer than me. First we went through some stuff at Vista – we found out where we’re going to be working! Heather is doing photopass photography at Animal Kingdom, Garrett is custodial at Saratoga Springs, and I’m ON A BOAT! I don’t know where yet, but I know it won’t be the EPCOT friendship boats. We also got our pictures taken and our housing ID cards at this time. We received our program guides, which is basically half a planner and half a bunch of information about the program. I had to do drug testing at Vista, too. I filled out a form a few days prior that had been emailed to me which stated that I would do drug testing if asked. Well apparently they only sent that email to people who had already been selected for drug testing. So that was awesome. Honestly though it wasn’t that bad, because I think we got priority on the buses to casting. I was supposed to be on the 9:00 bus but because drug testing started at like 8:55, I made the 9:30. Heather and Garrett on the other hand had to wait an hour, as they were scheduled for the 10:30 bus.

At casting, we went through some basic background information stuff. Things like I-9 forms, fingerprinting, and finding out when we start training. For me, the whole thing took a couple of hours, and then Austin picked me up and we went home.

Heather and I have Traditions this afternoon at 2 pm, and Garrett is there now! Then Garrett will start his training tomorrow, and Heather and I start Friday. So here’s how it worked out for us:

Saturday – move in
Sunday – free day
Monday – check in, then free
Tuesday – free day
Wednesday – free day
Thursday – Traditions
Friday – Garrett starts
Saturday – Leslie and Heather start

As you can see, there’s not a whole lot going on. The most frustrating part is probably our inability to go to the parks. We’ll get our employee IDs today at Traditions, so thus far we’ve been hanging out at the apartment and around Orlando. Heather and I are planning to go into the parks while Garrett is training tomorrow! I’m so ready.

One thing worth mentioning is that if you’re living on site, you do have a housing meeting on Tuesday. Apparently it’s short, like an hour or so. I’m sure it’s just like that housing meeting that we had when we first moved into dorms at whatever college.

That’s all for now!

Weekly Recap

I know it’s a Monday, and I promised these would be on Sundays. School is INSANE right now, and I’m lucky to have a minute to post anything today.

Not much has changed really, except for housing. My housing plan has been turned upside down a few times, but we’re finally (almost) set in stone!

I thought that I had found a roommate to live with off-site. He was some guy who had posted on the CP facebook group looking for off-site roommates, and I immediately responded. After talking to him for a day or so, he backed out (kind of, he told me he was still deciding). Of course I told him not to worry about it, but I was pretty upset. I started to feel hopeless, like I was going to live in Disney housing and be unhappy for 6 months. But then I found Garrett and Heather.

Garrett and Heather are also Clemson students, both graduating in May. Garrett is in Mechanical Engineering (like me) and Heather is in English (like Austin). They are awesome! They’re both doing College Program! (Garrett is in Custodial and Heather is a Photopass Photographer!) And they’ve agreed to live in an off-site apartment with me! I talked to Garrett on Friday, we had lunch with them on Sunday, and now we’re already in the process of applying for an apartment. It’s been a whirlwind, but man are we excited.

We’re applying to Alexandria Parc Vue, which is about 2 steps east of Fort Wilderness. It’s SO close to Disney. We’re getting a 2/2 with a washer and dryer for ~1000/month. The reason I’m divulging this information is so that people in the same situation can know what they should be looking for. For a nice unfurnished 2 bedroom in the greater Disney area, $1000 is a pretty good price for a 12 month lease. Even on our tiny salaries, it’s affordable when split between 3 of us. We’ll be working out the details over the next month, but the plan for me is to move in the Saturday before work starts (May 25).

I am so glad that this worked out. It solves so many problems. I can breathe a little easier knowing that I have one less thing to worry about during this crazy time. Countdown to senior design final presentation: 10 days. We’re almost there!

Weekly Recap

I think I’m going to take a moment every Sunday to address my progress over the past week. To me, it doesn’t seem like much is happening, especially since right now I’m just waiting and waiting and waiting… and working on school. But I do want to keep everybody in the loop, so I think this will be something useful, at least until I get down to Orlando.

Classes

I signed up for classes this week! And I learned some pretty important things through that process, which no one had told me.

There are three kinds of classes offered on the CP: collegiate courses, Disney exploration series, and professional development studies. Professional development studies aren’t available over the summer, leaving me two kinds to choose from. I also learned that Disney will only block 2 periods from your work schedule – this means that you can either take 2 classes, or you can schedule one or both of those periods to do online work (you have to prove that you’re enrolled in an online class). I think you can take more than 2 classes, but you might not be able to get out of work, so it’s not a good idea.

The collegiate courses cost money, but they’re an incredible deal when compared to courses at Clemson, or any university, or even a junior or community college. They’re CHEAP. I paid $24 for my collegiate course. These are the classes for which your university might give you credit. Since I’m graduating in a month, I don’t need any credit, so I’ll be taking them just for the learning aspect.

The Disney exploration series is meant to teach how the Walt Disney Company operates. From what I understand, they’re mostly guest speakers and seminar-type class style. You’re not going to get college credit for these, but they’re also free and (hopefully) pretty useful for someone trying to start their career at Disney.

And of course, Disney has semesters. I’m going to be there for 2, since I’m doing the Fall Advantage program. So I’ll be there for one Summer semester, and then for the Fall. Obviously, there aren’t as many classes available during the Summer, so I had to choose accordingly, and I’m more excited for the Fall… but registration for those doesn’t open until June.

So I signed up for 2 classes for the Summer (the term runs June 10 – August 30):

Collegiate – Creativity and Innovation:

“This course introduces students to the main theories of Creativity and Innovation. Students will learn various tools to promote creativity within themselves and others, processes to increase innovation, how to contribute to a creative team, how to manage creativity and how to establish a culture of creativity within an organization. As a result, students should have greater understanding of and appreciation for the creative/innovative process and be better able to harness and direct those forces for themselves and others.”

Disney Exploration – Exploring Leadership

“Discover how our leaders balance the needs of Cast, Guest and Business to create the most magical place on earth, and learn about different leadership styles.”

Exploring Leadership meets on Thursdays at 9am-11am, and Creativity and Innovation meets on Fridays at 9am-1pm. I’m really looking forward to both of these, and to signing up for some more in the Fall!

Housing

I have been going crazy working on housing. I’m so anxious to get it figured out. My dad might be getting a condo in Orlando, which would give me somewhere to live, but I don’t think he’s started looking yet. In the meantime, I’ve been looking all over the internet searching for things I can afford that are available. One of the problems I’ve run into is that these places that are being advertised have nothing for 6 months! So if you’re in my situation, start looking as soon as you can, because it’s a jungle out there. Also, Transportation gets paid minimum wage, which right now means $7.79/hr. That’s not a lot to live on, especially alone. I have a bunch of savings that I’m going to be relying on to make ends meet. If you don’t have a support system like a killer savings fund, I would suggest looking for roommates. Housing is expensive in Orlando. I’ve found several in the $600-$650 range, which is a lot for minimum wage. So we’ll see, and I’ll keep you updated.

General Thoughts and Feelings

I’ve almost given up on the PI’s. I feel like if it were going to happen, it would have already. I almost wish that they would all turn me down now and save me the trouble of wondering. I haven’t lost hope completely though, and I’m still checking somewhat obsessively.

I’m also in a facebook group for CP, and something interesting has started to happen. People are posting these roommate surveys, trying to see if they’re compatible, and I read them for one purpose: there’s a question that asks how many times you’ve been to Disney. Some people are CP alumni, and some are like me, but an overwhelming majority have been 1-5 times in their life. Austin reminds me that going to Disney all the time is not normal, which I completely understand, but I just wonder what drives those people to sign up for CP to begin with? Maybe I’ll make a point to ask that question to people I meet once I get started.

I can’t stress enough how tired I am of school. Countdown to senior design final presentation: 18 days.

Adventure is out there!

How my life feels right now