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I’ve been thinking about putting this together for quite some time. As my job hunt drags on, I keep learning new things, and perhaps some things I wont even realize until I actually find a job, but here’s some free advice to anyone who’ll listen. Also, take this stuff with your salt shaker in hand. I’m not an expert. Really you should talk to the people at the career center, and actually make an appointment, and ask for people’s honest opinions about your work, and all that stuff. Maybe you could start thinking about these things too.

  1. Start looking before you graduate. Without looking, I had no idea that employers require you to have such a wide gamut of skills, nor did I fully comprehend what skills went with which profession. Get on craigslist, and see. A title might say “3D artist” and instead of listing just “maya” it will be a long list of 20 programs. Also, looking at just how many jobs there are in the city of your choice will give you some foresight in to how far you’d be willing to move. It goes without saying that newyork’s craigslist has fifty decent job listings a day, and asheville has maybe one a week. Don’t miss out on the video/film category which is separated from media/arts. Other places to look: Los Angeles, the UK (graphic artists are very respected there), or Australia.
  2. Search for a Junior position. (sometimes abbreviated as Jr.) Without 3 years of experience, you can’t be expected to meet the high demands of a regular media job listing; it’s flat out impossible. Junior positions are a situation where the employer wants someone who isn’t experienced so they can make you do the job the way they want you to do it. They act as a training period for lots of other tasks, and within six months you become a regular employee and get a pay raise. Volunteering and internships count as experience while you’re still in school if you want to shave down that 3-year mark.
  3. Unemployment for college graduates is fantastically low, and by this time next year, these numbers will cut in half. Don’t let anyone tell you the economy is bad — especially your family or yourself who always seem to get the most concerned. The economic situation looks bad for people who don’t have college degrees. You aren’t going to be one of those people, so chill out.
  4. Bootstrapping. Every time I tell someone this advice they correct me. “Oh, I found my job on craigslist.” That may be so, but bootstrapping takes might save you find a real job, or it might help you meet the right people. Essentially, you approach a business owner and say “I noticed the sign you have in the window, and it looks terrible” This wont insult them, because they already know it looks bad, but hoped no one would notice. “I’m a graphic artist, and I’d like to redo it for you.” Or, if you are so bold, do the work of redoing it before you even approach them and then offer revisions upon acceptance. Then charge a small fee “I’ll do it for $30” If you don’t ask a lot, they’ll keep asking you to make things. The same method works for anything: video or flash if you notice they have a tv in the lobby, check out how bad the websites are for your favorite local businesses, and make an offer. Et cetera…
  5. The government is hiring. Yep. The feds need skilled multimedia artists. Search sites include USAJOBS, and AVUE.
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demoreel

After reading this article on how to make a demo reel, I wished I had read it sooner as I’ve been trying to put one together the last week or two. Plenty of the things in the write-up you’ve heard before like “put your best work in the first minute.” but hearing it from someone who made it at Pixar, the same advice means a little more.

5000 dollars. in your pocket. actually, it’s more. Just to sit at this desk. Actually, you have to do more than that. I had to do a lot more than that.

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Design Tech, an REU site funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and the Department of Defense (DoD) Awards to Stimulate and Support Undergraduate Research Experiences (ASSURE), is an interactive visual design hothouse with projects spanning artificial intelligence, graphics, visualization, and visual design. Projects include cinematic camera control for interactive narratives and games; automated tours through virtual, visualized environments; agent-based visualizations of streaming data such as RSS feeds and sensor telemetries; and PDA-based navigation tools.

Student participants will work with faculty, attend seminars, acquire oral and written skills and learn how to conduct independent research at the boundary between the disciplines of Design and Computer Science

DesignTech is taking applications again this year. It’s an undergraduate research program at NC State. You’ll work with really talented people. The paycheck is non-taxable income. You get to live in a … dorm. Then at the end you get to present your work in a huge room full of other research undergrads.

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It’s a little hard to explain just how exciting it was because I don’t have too many good pictures. I strongly encourage anyone to send in an application before April 20th, and see how it goes.

More about my project, if you’re interested, is here, here, and here.