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The Career Coach: Age, Religion, Sex - What Reel-y Matters

What if I told you that yes, sexism, ageism, racism all existed in the industry? Would you give up your dream? If you answered yes, that is the right decision because if you can be discouraged by an obstacle, you don't have the persistence it will take to make it. If you answered no, that is also the right decision because you will pursue your career no matter what the obstacles. Discrimination exists but it shouldn't stop you. The people who have skills that are in demand will find work.

pam.gif Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

"Hi Pam, I chanced upon your article about not giving up, and I wondered if you found that the industry was a)sexist and b)ageist? I'm a 32 year old single mother and I am looking for advice on the best way of approaching the industry."

What if I told you that yes, sexism, ageism, racism all existed in the industry? Would you give up your dream? If you answered yes, that is the right decision because if you can be discouraged by an obstacle, you don't have the persistence it will take to make it. If you answered no, that is also the right decision because you will pursue your career no matter what the obstacles.

Discrimination exists but it shouldn't stop you. The people who have skills that are in demand will find work. At the moment, there are not many traditional animation jobs available in Los Angeles and those who are classically trained animators, whatever their age, are having difficulty finding work. Some of them are using the down time to acquire new skills, such as knowledge of Flash. Rather than complaining about lack of work or worrying about their age, sex, or race, they are taking action to make themselves more marketable.

What reel-y matters is the work (what is on your reel or in your portfolio). If you are a writer, your story telling ability is what matters. The color of your skin, eyes or hair, or whether your skin is smooth like a baby's or wrinkled doesn't matter.

Most of the reels recruiters get are from people we don't know and haven't met.Recruiters judge the reel on the work alone. We don't care how old you are, if you are male or female, or wear earrings in your ears or navel. If the work is good and you have the right skills, you'll get hired. The demand for talent is so high that no one can afford to discriminate.

Don't worry about things you can't change--your age, your race, your sexual gender (though some people do change that). Concern yourself with things you can change. Make sure your skills are top notch. Acquire new skills and knowledge and develop a network of people in the industry. Determine what you would like to do in the industry and go for it. There are thousands of companies and they all need talented employees. Find the one that's right for you.

If you have experienced repeated discrimination, the Internet may be an alternative for you. The Internet has created an outlet for new voices to be heard. Many people are putting animation up on the web and they don't have to worry about some company's acceptance of their work or of them.

Yes, discrimination still exists. In some places there is a glass ceiling and in many industries women are paid less than a male counterpart doing the same work. But if we continue to work to improve things perhaps by the time our daughters enter the work force they will not only be able to pursue their career dreams, but also will not have to confront these unfair practices. It's a dream and a struggle. But as Jeff Kasunic of DynamicPixels.com points out, "Nothing happens when you quit."

FYI:

Questions relating to your age, race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sexual preference or gender identification, marital and family status, or disability during an interview in the U.S. is illegal. In the U.S. people don't put age, birth dates, marital status, or whether they have children on resumes since this information is not relevant to the job. I also recommend leaving photographs of yourself off of your resume unless you are an actor.

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination in the U.S. you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter and career coach. She is currently recruiting for Macromedia, which has a very diverse work force. She frequently speaks at colleges, universities, and conferences.

©Copyright 2000 Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

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