Hello Loves! 😀
Today is the first day of school for almost everyone here in the states ( I’m the exception, mine starts NEXT Monday, Ha! 😉 ). So here comes a little advice I learned during my years as an Undergraduate, and something every one of my professors tried to knock into the heads of their students: Network with your friends and outside your social circle as much as possible!
A College or University is a breeding ground for potential.
Once, a very treasured professor of mine said this to my class:
“Everyone, your fellow students, and professors are there to help in the advancement of your future and of their own. An asset to one other that many forget, and fail to recognize unless someone points it out to them. To put it simply, to help you get a job at any point and time, you must network with your friends, even acquaintances! They will be your way in to any potential place.Use that to your advantage.”
What is Networking?
Setting up connections with people to get in on a career of you interest.
Put simply: A way to get your foot in the door to receive a job, and potentially beat out the competition.
There is no connection between a person sending their resume/portfolio to the person reviewing it in most occasions. The reviewers receive hundreds, to thousands in case of big companies, a day! Most resumes end up in the trash for this very reason.
Another professor of mine once stated that usually the job of a reviewer was given to a random person in his company, at the end of a long busy day, with plenty of their own work to get back to still. In the animation industry, we get hundreds upon thousands of portfolios and reel videos which take 1-2 minutes to review. If we don’t like something within the first 10 seconds, its scraped!
Employers have a higher tendency to hire someone they know, or someone who has been recommended to them by the current or previous staff.
For example, many of my fellow classmates tried to get hired, sending applications sporadically everywhere in our nation to get hired, even if it was an unpaid internship. I knew it wouldn’t be easy myself, the record to date after graduation to get hired is usually 3 yrs in our industry, and that’s if you improve your skills and a know someone with a job in a company you want in on. Only 3 people from one of my classes heard anything back, 2 were for their pure talent( from that only one got an internship), the third person got the best of the pickings because one of our professors got her tons of face to face meetings with staff at Pixar beforehand, and got her dream internship with them this summer :). Another one of my friends, through networking as well, got a job at Funimation using his business/ finance degree and is proof that networking works for any job!
Before You Network
Point 1: I mentioned earlier, that a professor stated: [people] help in the advancement of your future and of their own. I only had 2 students, of my entire graduating class that got called back for internships, for their pure talent, and only 1 got in. People want people who can fulfill their required needs before anything else! As such, talent will seek talent, so instead of approaching a person with “can you help me get this job” or “I want a job” go with “here is what I can do for you” and make sure you CAN do it perfectly well!
Point 2: To be a talent or knowledgeable person, passion and hard work is what will get you there! You can’t get a job if your knowledge and skills are sub pare, especially in an art, games, or animation industry. For us, we are often told, “if you are sleeping, someone else is awake practicing!” If you give up just from hearing this, I apologize but it is the truth.
People who “want” don’t become successful. People who earn viable skills through hard work, passion and dedication are the ones that everyone bends over backwards to network with.
How to Network while in School
-Make friends, this can be either easy or hard for some, but I find it’s best to relax and start with a “hello” 🙂 Use Facebook/ LinkedIn/ Twitter/ etc, to keep contact with them. Always be polite as well, and for professional reasons, its advised to make a separate account for both Facebook and Twitter.
-Speaking of Social Media, reach out to those you admire politely. Follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook, and engage in conversation often. It’s also important to go with their atmosphere, be polite and poised if your are talking as a business person or as a student, if as a fan to an artist you want to get to know, compliment their work and go in as a friend. You’ll be surprised with the results, but it is important to stay active on those accounts. The more you talk, and if people like what hey hear it can create many new friendships AND doors for your future.
-Create/work on projects with other students aside from school work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help outside your friend group or social circle. Get those projects done with as much help as possible, and be successful in them. It tells others you are good at teamwork and are responsible, among owning other worthy skills. The professors that you seek help from will take note of your role as well. So be polite at all times to everyone, it isn’t hard for word to get around if someone has a bad attitude.
-Keep connections with your professors and old employers! It’s a good habit to send a professional e-mail to them at least once a year telling them where you are and if you are in need of a job, with information on what you are looking for to work on, with a list of previous work you have done that is relevant. If you have a job, then sending a professional seasons greetings e-mail will do fine, but stay in touch so they don’t forget who you are!
-During school there will be events and times you will get to speak with professionals in your industry either in class (or in your town), one on one, or in a crowd lecture. Make sure to free yourself up for those events, and talk to them after it’s over with articulate questions, being polite as always. If you are shy, then bring a good friend to help initiate the talking, it will benefit the both of you. Be prepared to show a website portfolio, or give a business card if they ask. If they like you enough, they will usually give you their contact info if they haven’t already done so during their lecture. In situations such as these, they are more willing to help you as a student, to guide you with advice.
Thank you for reading! This is almost all I learned about networking in the past 3 years as an Undergraduate for storyboarding and animation. I hope this helps you, and if I remember any more tips, I will add them here later.