10 Practical Tips for Entering the Job Market by Manroop Takhar
By Manroop Takhar
You have got your degree (or are about to get it) and are ready to unleash your animation skills for the entire world to see. You are now armed with the technical knowledge that has helped shape your artistic talents and looking to step into the real world of work. This juncture of your life may at first seem to be a daunting challenge, and as with most careers, there may be a few lows before you hit the highs.
So, what do you do next? How do you get your first step on the ladder that takes you into the animation industry? Well, for starters, you will need a relentless, persistent, can-do attitude. In addition, the following 10 practical tips will help... ence, build your network of contacts and support yourself financially whilst you wait for the ideal full time position to come along.
Also make sure that you are clear on what the mean salary range is for professionals with your experience and skill level and aim to keep your expectations within that range. Expecting to be paid higher than the industry average at the start of your career can unnecessarily hamper your job opportunities, which you want to avoid if possible.
“It used to be that most young artists considering a career in animation looked at Disney and anime as the direction to take. Today, in the real world of animation,
choices are much wider and some say much more interesting.”
Get your paperwork ready. Have you written up your CV? Have you also written up a résumé (a document that is similar to a CV but comparably shorter in size and detail)? Have you gotten these checked by a professional CV writer, or maybe a careers advisor at your university?
Make sure you tailor your applications in ways that demonstrate how your skills, knowl- edge, qualifications and talent fit the job description advertised. Stay honest, focused and diligent, ensuring no writing and formatting errors.
Prepare a portfolio of your best work. This may be something that you have already produced during your schooling. If so, getting it filed, labelled and organized is all you will need to do. However, if you don’t have an impressive enough portfolio which demonstrates your skill set, it would certainly be worth investing the time creating one.
Be sure to include any work that you may have done during external internships or freelance work, while you were at university. This definitely adds credence to your caliber and supports what you state in your job applications. Make sure your portfolio is available in both electronic (i.e. in a CD, USB memory stick or an external hard drive) as well as in physical formats.
3. Consider your career path. Of course, this depends on where your interests lie with regards to the various areas that exist in the animation industry. For instance, are you interested in working with the big guns, such as Disney, Pixar or Warner Bros.? If so, what ideas and samples of work do you have that would be worth presenting to these studios, if and when you hear from them? Or, you may be interested in working for small- to medium-sized animation studios which produce whiteboard animations, explainer videos, 2D and 3D animations for commercial purposes. This is a growing market with a good deal of opportunity for recent graduates. Studios specializing in commercial animations are usually open to hiring fresh talent provided they have a good technical foundation and demonstrate a willingness to learn. So, it could therefore be a good starting point.
4. Be realistic. The type of initial employment contract you are offered will most likely depend on how impressive your portfolio is, your previous experience working on real commercial projects and how well you do in your interview.
A growing number of artists in the profession prefer to work on a freelance basis and can earn a good living doing so. It isn’t uncommon for freelance professionals who receive regular work due to their reputation to earn significantly more than their counterparts in full time employment with reputable studios. Therefore if you would like a career where the working hours are scheduled around your own terms or are having difficulty getting full time employment, taking on freelance projects may be an excellent option. Taking on freelance work can help you get your foot through the door, gain experi-
5. Be patient. Aiming high is great, and you should! However, being realistic is also essential. If you have a genuine passion for animation and are committed to reaching the top, there is no doubt you can succeed in this fantastic industry.
It usually takes several years to acquire a substantial portfolio of impressive work–and get recognized for it. Even if openings do emerge for the top positions, the big guns are likely to look for experienced professionals who have the best proven track record. Acquiring this experience naturally takes time and if you want to get to the top, you will need to allow for this.
— The Art Institutes, USA
6. Network, network, network! Similar to other creative industries, you can propel your career in animation by networking within the relevant circles. While this once involved the physical act of knocking on the doors of various studios, today you can connect with the ones that matter on social networks, such as LinkedIn and Twitter. You could also go online and search for animation studios in and around your area, study their websites, keep track of their work and contact them with your CV and portfolio.
In addition, make sure you join the relevant
Meeting Opportunities: Industry events like Animation Magazine’s Summit in Los Angeles offer perfect opportunities for you to meet industry professionals and decision makers .