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Creative Career Coach: Take This Job and Love It

Whatever job you have, act with enthusiasm, commitment, and passion – that includes volunteering with industry organizations like ASIFA, Women in Animation, and ACM SIGGRAPH.

Whether you’re working at your dream job or are working at one to pay the bills, or even one that doesn’t pay at all, you need to give it your all. Loving what you do, or just acting like you love it, can pay big dividends. Giving 110% to every job shows that you appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate what you can do.

That includes volunteer work. A few years ago a reserved young man volunteered to help me produce and organize a career boot camp hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of ACM SIGGRAPH. His quiet determination and tremendous follow-through showed everyone he worked with that he was a dynamo. When Joan Collins, a VFX producer from Sony Imageworks, asked the chapter’s board members for a recommendation for a junior producer, everyone simultaneously called out “Alan Botvinick!” (That young man was not at the meeting, or he would have been keenly embarrassed). Alan had stood out, taking the job and loving it as if it were his dream job. This attitude opened the door to a new job and new career.

Volunteer to help at events, conferences, festivals, seminars, and events. ASIFA, Women in Animation, ACM SIGGRAPH and the Visual Effects Society all have events that they need help organizing and presenting. The annual Annie Awards and VES Awards always need volunteers, and it’s a great way to meet people within the organization.

Whatever job you have, act with enthusiasm, commitment, and passion. Todd Jacobsen and I worked in the production office on The Simpsons years ago. Although Todd wanted to be an animator, he worked as hard as he could as a production coordinator. Todd used the opportunity at The Simpsons to show off his amazing work ethic, which led to other jobs in the industry; he also developed relationships with other artists who gave him tips and leads. His dedication opened doors to opportunities to learn about the production process, which came in handy later in his career at Nickelodeon, Disney, Warner Brothers, and DreamWorks, where he worked as a storyboard artist and animator.

If you don’t love your job, perhaps you can make some changes so you do.  Are there aspects that can be adjusted without impacting the company negatively? Brainstorm with supervisors and co-workers on ways to improve the situation. Can you change the duties of your job? Add duties that will help you develop new skills? Take a class to add skills?

About a month after I hired him at Virgin Games, an artist declared to me, “The honeymoon is over!” The initial thrill of a new job doesn’t last forever. How do you get it back?  Find ways to have fun at work–learn new things, take on a challenging project, add to your skill set.

Are you taking your job for granted?  Are you bored?  Do you need to reignite the flame of passion for your work? To keep the love of a job alive, make a list of what you like about the job. If you are bored, try changing your environment. Or have lunch with someone new. Converse with a coworker or colleague that you don’t know well. Try volunteering for a new project that might give you an opportunity to meet new coworkers. If you can delegate aspects of your job that don’t utilize your strengths, do it so someone else can develop those skills.

If you are not loving your boss, think about how he or she tends to communicate. You, your boss and coworkers can have a combination of communication styles, and might adapt according to whomever they are dealing with. If it’s the way they communicate that is bothering you, try adapting to their way and see if things improve. It’s a good idea to be aware of what they need so you can develop good working relationships. If you’re having a conflict with a supervisor, maybe you can ask for a lateral change within the company so you’re not reporting directly to that person.

Whether you have a job you love or not, be sure you take time during the day to work on what you do love. Take a sketchbook to lunch and draw your coworkers. Take 15 minutes before you go to work to do some writing or brainstorming. Before you go to sleep, work on character designs. Keep what you love alive by indulging in it every day, whether you are paid to do so or not. Your job is work on your art every day, whether you monetize it or not. Act with commitment and passion and create a life you love.

As a creative career coach and recruiter, Pamela Kleibrink Thompson helps animators, visual effects artists, writers, and others in creative fields to design a life that they love. For personal one-on-one recruiting and to get your career in gear this year, contact her at Her new website is at Her picture book The Horse Who Wanted to Fly will be published by Firefly Books in fall 2024.