I believe that social media can be a powerful force for good. Sure, some of us are definitely addicted to our social media-tethered devices, constantly checking for email and Facebook and Twitter notifications (guilty!). We bury our faces in them at social events, when what we really should be doing is making eye contact and engaging with those around us.
But, despite our vices, the magical part of social media is when a virtual connection can become a real one.
I’ve been wanting to share this story for a while now. It’s about how my husband Brian’s career began at Walt Disney World. And it all started with a tweet.
Back in February of 2012, I was job-searching myself, and my husband was looking for a change as well. He’s a chef, and I work in digital. We had been living in Orlando for just 6 months, but we had both landed into very demanding jobs with long hours and plenty of stress — me, at a local TV station managing its website, and he, at an upscale resort working the overnight shift. We barely saw each other. When we did, one of us was awake and the other asleep. We certainly couldn’t make plans often, making living in a fun place like central Florida very frustrating.
Fortunately, my job search was going well. I would land, within a month, a great job as a digital content manager at a magazine publisher. Brian, meanwhile, was finding a lot of barriers to entry to where he really wanted to work: Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney World is the largest single-site employer in Florida, with more than 66,000 on its payroll. Getting an “in” at WDW Casting can be tough. Brian had previously been offered a part-time position with Disney in fall 2011, but turned it down because he needed full-time work. Unfortunately, when that happened, he then had to wait another 6 months to apply again to the same position, even though what he was offered was only part-time.
So, it was during his 6-month waiting period that I began to explore some other possible “ins” for Brian. And I happened upon a guy who was tweeting up a storm: @DisneyExecChef. I followed him as he chatted about menu planning, special events and cool happenings at WDW. And on Feb. 11, 2012, I got courageous, and tweeted this:
To my surprise, @DisneyExecChef, also known as Chef Robert Gilbert, answered. He first directed us to the Disney Careers website, but I then explained our situation some more. He then offered to meet my husband, in person, the following morning. I was floored!
When my husband got home from work the next morning, I shared the news. Let’s just say he was skeptical. He wasn’t sure that this guy could help him at all, or who he was. But, he went. The two of them met at Coronado Springs Resort, and Chef Robert explained the hierarchy of the chefs and cooks in the special events and catering operation of Walt Disney World. And Brian realized that Chef Robert was the real deal and one of only a handful of executive chefs at WDW.
The conversation between Brian, Chef Robert, and myself continued, and by June 2012, Brian was on board in catering operations at the Contemporary Resort. He’s working hard, and has had the opportunity to cook for conventions of thousands, for intimate chef’s tables, and for many other restaurants and special events all around Walt Disney World, including Party of the Senses during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, special events at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, breakfast at ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort, and even counter service work at Columbia Harbour House at the Magic Kingdom. It’s been a well-rounded experience for him, to say the least.