Disney Career Lessons

By: Ashlee

Admit it. You still watch Disney movies. In fact, you may have just been belting “Colors of the Wind” or “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” a mere five minutes ago (yes, humming counts!)

It doesn’t matter how old you are. Disney movies will always be cool. Who doesn’t remember the thrill of flying on a magic carpet or the terror of Uncle Scar’s plan to take over Pride Rock? I’m talking the classics — the ones with Disney Princesses whose hair never seems out of place or the tiniest bit messed up (even underwater it’s perfect). I’m talking about the movies of our childhood whose songs we know every line to and still belt at the top of our lungs, even if we’re incredibly off-pitch.

Some of you will very soon be college graduates. The rest of you have anywhere from 1-3 years left. You’re learning about desired industry career paths and figuring out what professionals in these chosen fields actually do (and don’t do). But thanks to Disney, you’ve been preparing for these careers all along.

Don’t believe me? Here are a few key points:

– “Aladdin’ – A new look can make all the difference.

Think about your ideal dream job. Now think about your online image. Are there any incriminating Facebook photos that could set your impressive resume on fire with the click of a mouse? An updated look can make all the difference. Aladdin, with the help of a genie, created a new image for himself. He didn’t get an entirely new face (creating a whole new Facebook profile), he just changed his appearance and motives to appeal to his target audience (Princess Jasmine!). He went from shirtless street rat to well-dressed “prince” seeking the princesses’ hand. It was his natural character that ultimately won people over, but he was given a second chance by his cleaned-up, new-and-improved look.

Disney Career Lesson: Clean up your appearance on Facebook and LinkedIn if it’s not going to dazzle your target audience.

– ‘Emperor’s New Groove’ – Your attitude can affect your work.

Power can go to people’s heads, and can lead to superiority complexes. Belittling and big-headedness don’t work well in life, with coworkers and certainly not with potential employers. Even if you’re resume boasts amazing experience after amazing experience, if you’re difficult to work with, people tend to resist. No one wants to work with an Emperor Kuzco — the young leader who thought he knew it all.

Disney Career Lesson: Upon his change into a llama, he learned some life lessons, and the audience learned a thing or two about the job search. An inflated attitude can lose you potential employment and friends. A poor, self-pitying “why not me” job search attitude can reap the same effect. Beware because both ultimately could change you into a llama.

Disney career lessons

‘Pocahontas’ – Passion drives results.

Most career professionals do their best work when they are passionate about their subject. If you have a real passion for non-profits, communications, stock market analysis or playing the violin, you probably devote most of your time to it and put in 100%.

Pocahontas, a passionate young girl, prevented a war between her people and the Englishmen. Because of her passion, she was able to communicate her beliefs and get the results she wanted, no matter what it took.

Disney Career Lesson: Getting involved with a project that you are enthusiastic about can give you the fire to do your best work possible. Plus, employers can hear the passion in your voice when you talk about a project you really sunk your teeth into. If you’re passionate about it, dive right in and learn everything you can along the way.

– ‘Tarzan’ – Be adaptable.

As a job seeker, intern, or recent graduate, you’re going to be thrust into situations that can be uncomfortable. Wherever you work, you have to be able to jump from project to project, task to task, with expertise. Being able to adapt to an environmental change, as Tarzan did, can make you a valuable asset to any organization.

Disney Career Lesson: Tarzan was a human who adapted to living in the jungle with apes. He used his head and taught himself things to make his life easier, such as tree surfing and spear-making. Whether it’s adapting to an employer’s needs, a situation, or a whole new job, you need to find your inner ape.

– ‘The Little Mermaid’ – Take risks.

As new employees or interns, we’re driven to follow the rules and stick to the guidelines. However, as you advance your skills, taking charge and changing the game lead to great rewards.

Disney Career Lesson: Ariel took a risk to follow her dream of walking among the humans. The redheaded mermaid has taught us that calculated risks can pay off in unexpected ways. Sometimes you have to cross your fingers, close your eyes and just “kiss the girl.”

‘Princess and the Frog’ – Don’t be ashamed of asking for a little help.

You’ll discover at most jobs you’ll be assigned to a team that works with a client or project. This is because, in most cases, a team can provide better results than one individual. Teams bounce ideas off each other, can proofread each other’s writing, and lighten the load when people are too busy to complete a task.

Disney Career Lesson: Tiana, the “princess,” wanted to open a restaurant all by herself. She thought she didn’t need any help. At the end of the movie, she realizes that there is no shame in asking for help every now and again. Just as one of her gumbo recipes, every ingredient is important — like every member of a team. (This applies to job searching, too. Ask all your connections for help!)

– ‘Hercules’ – There are always two paths to the finish.

When you start a project, campaign or even a blog post, the way you start and the way you want it to end may not always be the same. We usually start something one way, but along the way we have to roll with the punches and find another route to the goal.

Disney Career Lesson: Hercules thought the only way to become a god was to be a hero. He later learned there was another path for him. Same goes for your job search. Not everyone is going to land their dream job the same way. Yes, you may have a plan laid out in your mind, but how you end up getting their might end up being a 180 from that original plan. Trust your gut and step back from the job search if something isn’t working. Always be open to new ways to achieve your goal — and that is the “Gospel of Truth.”

Read Ashlee’s other posts

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