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Career Coach: Hot Career Tips

The Career Coach, Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, offers up some hot career tips for the summer.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

It's summer in the northern hemisphere which means soaring temperatures. Here are some hot career tips that will keep your career cooking all year long.

Maintain a sunny outlook. When you work on any project you will be on a team with others. Maintain a professional positive attitude. Success comes to those who love what they do. If there are problems at work or on the project, figure out ways to solve them rather than complain about the situation.

Don't burn your bridges. It's a small industry. Make sure that you follow through on promises. Don't quit before your part in the project is complete. Deliver on time. Be early and be ready. Be reliable and professional. Don't argue and belabor a point or opinion with a supervisor if the decision has been made.

Avoid burn out. Reconnect with the reasons and the feelings you love animation. Take a course, teach a class, mentor a newcomer or make your own film (it's easier than ever with Flash and computers). Get in touch with those feelings and keep that love of animation alive. Pursuing a career in animation demands patience, persistence, determination and time. There are many easier ways to make a living, but if animation is your passion then pursue it every day. Maybe it's time to learn a few new tricks. Improve your skills, master new software. The more versatile you are, the more employable you are. Keep up to date on the latest trends and new companies by reading the trades, taking classes and networking. Keep skills up to date. Bring your sketch book to the ball game or the beach. There are many opportunities for figure drawing whether you go to the pool or the mall.

Generate heat. Make sure potential employers are aware of you. If you make a short film, enter it in festivals and competitions. Find opportunities for screenings and make sure potential employers get an invitation to view it. If you are a computer animator, make sure to enter your project in the Electronic Theatre at SIGGRAPH (for more info see

Create sizzling marketing materials. Customize your reel to the job and company you are applying to, if possible. Know what clients are looking for and customize your reel to what they want. Keep your portfolio up to date and ready to show at any time. Update your demo reel (VHS cassette) and resume every six months and submit it to the employers you are interested in. If you are looking for work, be sure others know it.

Put top priorities on the front burner. Don't put off your dreams. If you really want to work in animation, do it. Make a short film. Now it's possible to post a film on the Internet and have a world wide audience. Work on your dream every day and make it a priority.

Keep contacts warm. Networking is more than making connections. Networking is helping others to make connections too. Go to industry related events and speak to the speakers and to fellow audience members. You never know who might be sitting next to you. Get out and explore other interests as well to expand your knowledge as well as your contacts.

Work like the blazes. While you work on your job, work on your career as well. When thinking about what job to take, consider what you can learn as well as what you might earn. Recognize that you never stop learning and try to find jobs where you can grow as an animator.

Stay fired up. Re-ignite your passion. Share your love of animation with someone who can really appreciate it -- a child. Speak about animation at local libraries, summer camps and schools. Talk to children about how to make cartoons. Summer is a great time to go to the movies and hey, theatres have air conditioning! Treat a child to some animation this summer and support the industry at the same time.

Use these red hot tips to keep the flame alive.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a career coach and recruiter. She also speaks about animation careers at colleges, universities and national conferences. As a career coach, she helps clients enjoy, enhance and energize their careers.