How can you prepare for your dream job while juggling final-year studies? Graduate Paige De Vanny shares her experiences.
The Bachelor of Design (Animation and Interactive Media) alumnus recently landed her dream job at Weta Digital, one of the world’s leading visual effects companies based in New Zealand.
The Oscar winning company is responsible for bringing to life performance-driven digital characters like Gollum (The Lord of the Rings) and Smaug (The Hobbit), Kong (King Kong) and Caeser (The Planet of the Apes).
De Vanny shares her tips for standing out in a creative field and offers advice for current students.
1. Get as much experience as you can while you study.
I was able to get a very competitive internship at an animation and motion graphics company in South Melbourne, called Jumbla.
I did this alongside the last semester of my degree and was able to get credits from this towards my Professional Practice class.
This experience was very beneficial – not only did I learn what it was like to be in a professional working studio, but I was also able to make freelance work contacts and build a very competitive resume.
This helped me to establish myself as an animator and to get the job as a Trainee Assistant Technical Director at Weta.
2. Learn how to network and establish yourself.
The community that the course provided was definitely the standout highlight of the degree.
Being in a cohort of around 50 insanely talented, friendly, geeky and creative-minded individuals who think on your wavelength is incomparable.
We all encouraged and inspired each other, and the working environment was like no other. In a creative industry, having these connections is extremely important.
Having a portfolio is one thing, but being able to promote yourself, meet the right people and market your art on social media is another. Holding my very own solo exhibition on Smith Street in Melbourne was also a great achievement!
It’s a little daunting putting yourself and your work out there to a mass audience but those who do have more opportunities come their way.
3. Be prepared to work hard and be challenged.
I think there is a novelty that comes with saying, “I’m a motion designer” or “I’m an animator”.
It’s lovely to think about it from a third party point of view that you’re making cool stuff and getting paid for it – but the truth is, it’s extremely hard work!
Your life revolves around intricate problems like the way a character’s arm moves in a frame.
There are also breakdowns in front of the computer at 2am and strain injuries from drawing too much.
However, I believe it is absolutely the most rewarding practice! You have to immerse yourself and constantly be learning.
4. Take a risk.
Two months after graduating I was applying for every dream job I could think of.
I remember scrolling through the job availabilities on Weta Digital’s website countless times, but I didn’t quite fit any of the positions available at the time.
So, Instead, I filled out an expression of interest form and linked my show reel. I didn’t think anything would come of it, so when they were the first company I heard from I was absolutely ecstatic.
The first contact I had with them after I applied was asking me if I was willing to relocate. I almost hyperventilated!
At this point I was not even sure what position they wanted to interview me for, but just receiving the email itself was exciting.
There were a couple of stages to the application. Once they let me know they were still interested after the Skype interview, everything seemed a lot more real.
Now that I have my start date it’s a bit scary and daunting but equally exciting!
Story: Jordan Di Stefano