It may be many young person's dream to one day be able to work for Disney. But during tough economic times, dreams are sometimes people's last hopes. On Tuesday, Disney came to Madrid to recruit temporary employees for two-month periods of employment this summer at Disneyland Paris. The Euro Disney recruitment drive aims to employ 600 people from Spain to fill vacancies in different fields, from receptionist to sales to animator, at the theme park outside the French capital.
Their offering: net pay of 1,030 euros monthly in exchange for a 35-hour work week. Hardly a dream-come-true salary but with unemployment at 20.3 percent in Spain - and youth unemployment standing at more than 40 percent - something is always better than nothing.
"Some answer in Spanish when the questions are in French"
Nearly 1,000 people showed up looking for work at two recruiting centers set up at the ESE Business School and Madrid's Autónoma University (UAM). Students, actors, recent college graduates and unemployed construction workers were among those who filled out the applications and were interviewed by recruiters. By 8.30am, there were already 100 people lined up outside ESE.
Many others had filled out application forms beforehand through the company website.
Two major requirements were for the candidates to speak both English and French. There didn't appear to be an age limit, with the exception that all applicants should be of legal working age.
"They should be adaptable, independent and responsible, and above all, be fluent in languages," said one recruiter.
"A lot of them have come well-prepared but there are others who answer you in Spanish when they are asked questions in French."
Covadonga González, 22, who recently graduated with a degree in sociology, speaks four languages (Spanish, English, French and Italian) and has experience in childcare. Does she feel she is overqualified?
"Yes, but because of the situation it is impossible to get a work contract, not even a paid internship - because I have already finished school and the university won't pay for one," she said.
Otilla Laiz, a 41-year-old actress, is confident she will get called back because she lived for eight years in France. She said that two people ahead of her were asking if Disney will also pay for their accommodation.
No, but the park has special housing units for employees for 281 euros a month, Laiz said.
Others hope that if they are selected for the temporary position, it could lead to a permanent job with the international company.
Close to 60 percent of those who applied made it to the second round and will be called back for a second screening beginning on March 15.
Disneyland is conducting similar recruitment drives in 12 other European nations for a total of 3,000 vacancies for the theme park's summer season, entitled "Disney Magical Moments Festival."
The recruitment came on the same day that the governing Socialists received somber news from Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who told them that it was going to take some time before new jobs would be created in Spain. The prime minister made the remarks at a meeting with the Socialist parliamentary bloc.