I keep getting this one question in interviews. Not sure how to answer.

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  06 June 2013
I keep getting this one question in interviews. Not sure how to answer.

I graduated from college 2 years ago with a BFA in animation. And for those past two years (aside from 6 months for family reasons) i've been searching for a job non-stop with a couple freelance gigs here and there. In order to give myself more opportunities while still living in a relatively affordable environment I moved to Chicago. While not the greatest for CG jobs, its better than where I was, and I can't afford California or NYC.

Since moving here about 8 months ago I've managed a couple interviews, and in every single one i've been asked the same question. "What have you been doing"? What they're really saying is "What have you been doing related to 3D computer graphics art/animation"? Its a tough one for me to answer, and I'm not even sure what to say.

The last time I did a 3D animation was the last week of October and I moved out of my parents house the first week of November. Then slept on the floor of a friends bedroom for 3 months where I wasn't able to do much of anything. Then moved into an apartment in February. Because of financial reasons the only computer I have is a nearly 7 year old Mac. Needless to say it doesn't run like it once did, and i've been unable to do any 3D work with it. I'm currently working a part-time job that barely makes anything so saving up is almost impossible.

When this question comes up in interviews I try to explain my situation without sounding like i'm making excuses. Its like I haven't done work because I don't have money for a new computer, and I don't have money for a new computer because I don't have a job. If someone were to give me a decent paying job I could get a new computer and do all the new stuff you want me to. Its a total catch 22.

This got kinda long, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle this interview question or what I should do? And getting a loan is out of the question
 
  06 June 2013
Show them what you have... and maybe demonstrate that you know the theory and reasoning behind artistic choices you made.

THEN you can explain why you don't have new material... Then again.. even non computer related art will help... because you can always link that to what you know and used to apply to your CG art.

Basically build the message that "I've been deprived, but I'm ready."

Good luck.
__________________
"Your most creative work is pre-production, once the film is in production, demands on time force you to produce rather than create."
My ArtStation
 
  06 June 2013
Hey man,

Have you been looking at motion graphics gigs? There's lots of that kind of work around downtown, especially with Leo and FCB. What part of Chicago are you in? Do you have easy access to the loop via a train?

River North is really the hotspot for those kinds of things, but there are plenty of other small places in Lincoln Park, River West, and Streeterville.

I know lots of those small downtown studios like to pick up unpaid interns for the summer. Have you looked at any of those?

-AJ
__________________
 
  06 June 2013
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: Show them what you have... and maybe demonstrate that you know the theory and reasoning behind artistic choices you made.

THEN you can explain why you don't have new material... Then again.. even non computer related art will help... because you can always link that to what you know and used to apply to your CG art.

Basically build the message that "I've been deprived, but I'm ready."

Good luck.

Thats kind of the message I try to give them. Which they seem to understand but it also feels like there's a hint of disappointment in there too. Even just today I had a 3rd "interview" (which is a whole other story) with a company and took a test for them with a program i've never used before. He said I did well and was impressed with what I did considering all i've done is watched tutorials for the past week. I was trying to show him that I'm eager to learn, I can learn quickly, I know I have what it takes I just don't have the means to practice on a regular basis.

Originally Posted by AJ1: Have you been looking at motion graphics gigs? There's lots of that kind of work around downtown, especially with Leo and FCB. What part of Chicago are you in? Do you have easy access to the loop via a train?
I'm in Rogers Park but have easy access to the Red Line so the Loop isn't a problem. I've talked to a couple places in the Loop but I'm not sure what Leo or FCB are, never heard of them. I've also applied to Digital Kitchen a million times, but haven't heard a thing from them. Any other studios you know of or can point me towards would be awesome! I haven't looked at motion graphics much, if anything its what I have the least amount of experience with. My main focus in school was character animation, but given my skill-set I can fit into a CG Generalist position as well.

Last edited by Killer_Lettuce : 06 June 2013 at 04:57 AM.
 
  06 June 2013
Hey man,

Leo Burnett and DraftFCB are two of the largest ad agencies in the world, and they both have offices in Chicago. A lot of work goes through them. DK is pretty popular amongst AI grads, so they get swarmed with resumes. Also don't get too excited about the Creative Circle ads, and other ads posted by job agencies.

Check out-
Burback Brothers:
http://www.burback.com/
Pipedreams:
http://www.pdproductions.com/
Protokulture:
http://www.protokulture.com/
RADAR:
http://www.radarstudios.com/
Calabash:
http://www.calabashanimation.com/
Farm:
http://www.farmcp.com/
Optimus:
http://www.optimus.com/
Leviathan:
http://www.lvthn.com/
Rethink:
http://www.rethinkstudios.tv/
Daily Planet:
http://www.dailyplanetltd.com/

Also The Mill is going to be opening a Chicago studio:
http://www.themill.com/
METHOD also opened a Chicago branch:
http://www.methodstudios.com/

Don't forget WB/MortalKombat/ NetherRealm Studios:
http://www.netherrealm.com/

-AJ
__________________

Last edited by AJ1 : 06 June 2013 at 06:15 AM.
 
  06 June 2013
Wow, aside from NetherRealms and Calabash, I haven't heard of any of these guys I'll definitely take a look at them. Thanks for that.

I also went and looked around Giannini/Vitamin Shop a couple months ago. I applied to them a couple times in the past, but now that i've actually met them face to face and they know my name hopefully something will come of it one day.

Originally Posted by AJ1: Also don't get too excited about the Creative Circle ads, and other ads posted by job agencies.
Funny you mention that. Without even knowing how I ended up with an interview at their office last month. What I applied to was a job listing, and then I get an e-mail from them saying they wanted to interview me to be a client of theirs. So I went to that unsure of what to expect and now I have them "searching" for jobs for me. Since then I've only received 1 job listing from them. Thankfully I'm not under contract with them so I can still look for jobs on my own. What have you heard about them?
 
  06 June 2013
Lol! You fell into the trap.

Creative Circle really spams the job posting sites. Some studios will try to hire through them when they need short term help and don't have time or the resources to post, interview, and hire themselves. Creative Circle apparently gets a fee from the studio for every person they place. I've only heard of one person getting a two week contract gig through them, out of dozens of people that I've talked to who interviewed with them. I don't think there's any harm in registering with them, but its just nothing to get excited about.

Don't be afraid to cold email those studios and see if they have any internships or job openings. I've even had luck in offering to buy lunch for a manager at one place in exchange for a few snippets of career advice. Its a small industry in Chicago, so it's important to make as many friends and connections as you can. The unpaid internships might suck, but if you can use it to make a dozen contacts, it can pay off later.

I know you mentioned motion graphics as your major weakness, but it would really help if you developed some proficiency with text animation, editing, and composting.

-AJ
__________________
 
  06 June 2013
Agree you should look into motion graphics, lot's of places up there. Digital Kitchen is probably the most well known, so don't be surprised if you never hear from them.
 
  06 June 2013
I have nothing to add other than I find it BADASS that other Chicagoans are chiming in to help! That's awesome!

- Dave in Texas
__________________
I do not come to you in eloquence of speech but in the demonstration of spirit and power.
1 Corinthians 2:4
 
  06 June 2013
Are you sure there isn't some cheap way to get access to a computer with some 3d software? Maybe a library or hackerspace computer with Blender on it, or maybe you could sign up for a community college class to get access to their labs? Or maybe a friend whose computer you could use while they're at work in exchange for a few beers?

For that matter, are you sure you can't get any 3d software to run on your old computer? Obviously some projects would be out of the question, but it seems you could still do some character animation practice on a simple rig.
__________________
kevinbakercg.com
 
  06 June 2013
Just be honest. I know it can feel like you're making excuses, and that's never a good position to be in, but if you can keep it short and sweet then you'll avoid that. A person interviewing you doesn't want to hear about how you slept on your friend's floor or anything like that, but you can still explain, in a concise manner, that due to your circumstances, you've been unable to really do much work in the past few months.
__________________
leighvanderbyl.com
 
  06 June 2013
How about starting by getting an affordably priced used computer that will allow you to do some creating?
You hardly need a brand new, bleeding edge machine to keep whatever chops you have
maintained and improved upon. Don't wait for someone to "give" you a job as you put it.

If the truth is that you really have nothing to offer for whatever excuses you care to trot out,
then your job searches will likely be unfruitful since you appear to be in a very weak position with little experience and loads of lame reasons that no one cares to hear.

Leigh is spot on with her advice. Don't be looking for sympathy because if that is what you are looking for you can find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis as the old saying goes.

Last edited by Tama : 06 June 2013 at 11:25 PM.
 
  06 June 2013
I personally would avoid being too honest and definitely omit ANY mention of "personal issues" in a formal job interview, it will just give off completely the wrong impression.

Saying you don't have a PC so can't make any work is a pathetic excuse for someone with a university degree and is even worse than the above!

What have you been doing lately? "Nothing" = Wrong answer.

Just make some recent work thats good, and talk about that. I don't think they will particularly care beyond the past few months. And if they do really start digging, just have something plausible behind it.

workshops, night classes, self study, freelance, travel, part time work, internship, doesn't really matter

Last edited by conbom : 06 June 2013 at 10:12 PM.
 
  06 June 2013
Also consider using Blender.

This isn't some proclamation of the software's superiority. But it is a good package to keep chugging out new pieces considering your financial circumstances.
__________________
"Your most creative work is pre-production, once the film is in production, demands on time force you to produce rather than create."
My ArtStation
 
  06 June 2013
Originally Posted by Tama: How about starting by getting an affordably priced used computer that will allow you to do some creating?
You hardly need a brand new, bleeding edge machine to keep whatever chops you have
maintained and improved upon. Don't wait for someone to "give" you a job as you put it.


bingo. i was working in 3ds max on an 800mhz machine from home 10 years ago and was able to get stuff done fine.

and once you have a machine, you can do all the personal work you want. no need to wait for a gig if you're looking to tell people what you've been doing.

hell, you could probably convince your local library to install blender on some machines.
__________________
YeAH!
 
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