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Career Coach: May Day 2023

May Day! Is your career in distress? Are you making hay? Or is it time to bail?

Ideally, your career should be both financially and spiritually rewarding. Is your career fulfilling and positive and uplifting, or is it something that is dragging you down? Is your career in trouble? If so, you might need to turn things around at work for the better, find another venue for your talents, or find another career entirely.

Are you still learning new things? What you learn can be more important than what you earn. If you are just punching the clock to pay the bills and without being challenged at all, it’s probably time to make a change. Do you feel in a rut at work? Has your job become rote, automatic, and stale? Are you bored? What happened to your passion for what you do? It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and ask for new responsibilities. If that doesn’t reignite a spark, it may be time to move on. You have to grow or go.

Your career might be in jeopardy because of industry trends or innovation. I just watched Hidden Figures, which depicts women who worked as “computers” during the early days of NASA. When an IBM computer arrives, one of the human “computers” recognizes she and the others have to learn how to program the IBM or they will no longer be needed. Years ago, when I worked on Bebe’s Kids, one of the women who worked in ink and paint bewailed the advent of digital coloring. I suggested she learn how to do digital ink and paint and she responded that she was too old to learn. I said, “A year from now you will be a year older and you will either know how to do digital ink and paint or not. But either way the year will pass.” One way to ensure you’re not out of a job at some point is by adding skills to your repertoire. Adding skills that employers need increases your market value. 

You may no longer enjoy what you do. If you are unwilling to adapt to new techniques and technology, the industry may leave you behind. Explore new ideas by attending industry events and conferences. Get inspired again. Get involved with a mentorship program or speak to students to reignite your enthusiasm.

If you are only focused on the money, you are shortchanging yourself. Of course, your career should sustain you financially. There will be financial peaks and dips. When The Lion King came out in 1994 and made a lot of money, a number of animation studios opened and animators could ask for the moon and stars. They often got both. Animation was booming and Disney opened studios or acquired them around the world, from Canada to Australia. And eventually closed them.

Often in television animation, there is a hiatus – a temporary layoff at the end of a season. If you are only focused on money a slowdown in the animation industry or a temporary shutdown due to a strike could cause you to stress out, feel negatively about your job, and jump ship. If you are in animation only to make a lot of money, it will not have the same spark and depth as someone who truly loves what they do. Don’t focus only on working to earn a paycheck. Consider what passions you have, and how you can earn a living from those passions. If you follow your passions and figure out a way to make a living doing what you love, it will earn you a lot more happiness and a lot more success in the long run.

Your career should enhance your life not, detract from it. Careers should be an endeavor of passion, particularly if you want to produce the best and most meaningful work. If you’re complaining about your job, it indicates that you may not be doing your best work and that fulfillment and passion are lacking. If you are dissatisfied with your career, don’t waste your time and those of others by speaking about that unhappiness, do something about it. If you are complaining about work a lot, especially when you are not at work, take a look at what is bothering you. Is it your supervisor? Is it the work itself? Or the company? How can you improve things? Do you need to switch supervisors? Do you need to change the company you work for or the project you are working on? Do you need to switch careers? Perhaps you’re burned out as a character designer and would like to work on backgrounds for a change.

Careers have peaks and valleys and if you are feeling like you are in a professional rut, do something to remedy the situation. Meeting new peers, learning more about your field, or even exposing yourself to new and innovative projects may help you feel better about what you do.

When you figure out what is wrong, you’ll be able to soar once more.


If you need help navigating career choices, feeling unfulfilled in your current role, are applying without success or wondering if you are on the right career path, want to level up or switch industries altogether, you might consider hiring creative career coach Pamela Kleibrink Thompson. She helps her clients make the most of opportunities in animation, visual effects, writing, and design. She also recruits for clients such as Disney, LAIKA, Lucas, and more. You can reach Pamela at