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The Career Coach: How Passionate Are You?

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson asks some tough questions to help you determine your dedication to animation in these tough times.

pam.gif Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

February is the month of Valentine's Day -- a time to lavish attention on your loved ones and rekindle the flames of passion. Are you still in love with your work?

This is the perfect time to check up on your relationship with animation. How passionate are you?

Commit or Quit

Are you truly committed, is it just a flirtation or is it time to end it? It takes a lot of work to build and maintain a healthy relationship with animation. If you're not willing to put in the time and effort, quit now. Pursuing a career in animation demands a lot of patience, persistence, determination and time. There are many easier ways to make a living. But if you truly feel you can't live without it, commit yourself unconditionally.

Best Kept Secrets

Immerse yourself in the techniques and history of animation. Learn from the masters. Don't have a personal mentor? You can also learn from books like The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, attending seminars and festivals, and studying great films frame by frame.

Keep Romance Alive

Is the passion waning? 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.

Never Marry for Money

If you're in the business because you thought you could make a bundle, what happens when the jobs are hard to find and the money gets tight? Marriages for money don't last. Success comes to those who love what they do.

Bare Your Soul

Keep your portfolio up to date and ready to show at any time. Update your demo reel and resume every six months. If you are looking for work, be sure others know it. Share your joy of animation with others -- especially young children. Talk to them about how to make cartoons.

After "I Do"

"I do animation" is temporary, "I am an animator" is permanent. 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.

Renew Your Vows

If you are committed, but are feeling burned out, reconnect with the feelings that got you involved in the first place -- 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 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.