Autonomous Animator: Internships for the Win
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Internships give you a chance to gain some real world experience before actually entering the job market. Whether still in college or recently graduated, earning an internship is a great way to make an impression and make connections.
Moreover, having an internship on your resume can give you a serious leg up on others with no internship experience who may be vying for the same job.
What to Expect
As an animation intern, you may be required to perform nonanimation production tasks unrelated to your college degree or career path. For example, if you land an internship at a studio that is producing a feature film, don’t expect to be leading teams or directing shots. Rather, expect to tackle such tasks as taking memos, scheduling meetings, getting coffee, performing research, organizing digital assets, render wrangling, and a handful of other admin-related duties.
In this case, your internship is more of a rite of passage where you are given the opportunity to prove you are willing to do whatever it takes to earn a position at their company.
Start Early and Plan Ahead
While some companies may only accept college internship applications from juniors or seniors, try to get one as soon as possible. At minimum, start planning as far ahead as possible, because it can take as long and be as difficult to land an internship as it is to land a full-time job.
Take the initiative to seek out internships instead of waiting for a notice to fall into your lap or for your school to make an announcement. To do this, make a list of your favorite animation studios and simply contact them and ask if they offer internships. From there, you can apply based on their specific criteria.
If you have your sights set on a specific studio, do everything you can to get an internship there. From an employer’s point of view, granting you an internship either means they think you have potential to become a full time employee and are interested in giving you a chance to prove yourself, or they simply want cheap or free labor.
If you don’t have a specific company in mind, go for the biggest-name studio possible -- because the more reputable the studio you have an internship with, the more weight it carries on your resume.
Paying Your Dues
Additionally, since some internships are unpaid, you will need to make financial considerations well in advance, otherwise you may risk losing this golden opportunity.
Imagine the disappointment of landing an internship at your dream studio and then being forced to quit in the middle of it because you ran out of money.
You will need to do whatever it takes to make ends meet while you’re gaining invaluable work experience and making industry connections. This could mean picking up a second or even third part-time job to pay for room and board while you’re working hard to make a break happen for you.
An Internship Alone Is Not Enough
Landing an internship, even at a prestigious studio, may not be enough on its own to land your dream job. This being the case, completing an internship is not enough – you must do so with flying colors. You need to demonstrate professionalism and the willingness to learn new skills and serve the team in the best way possible to the point where your supervisor notices and acknowledges your efforts. If this happens on a regular basis, it would behoove you to ask for a letter of recommendation at the conclusion of your internship.
Completing an internship at a reputable studio combined with a glowing letter of recommendation from your supervisor can carry a lot of weight when it comes to applying for a full time job.
Competition in the animation industry is fierce, so any positive differentiating factor that you can demonstrate stands to give you an advantage over the competition.