Q&A: Drury Animation Student Shares How He is Preparing for Life After College

Joseph Collado
Joseph Collado (Photo courtesy of Joseph Collado)

The transition from life as a college student to life as a professional can be challenging, stressful, exciting, and more. During this time students are preparing their portfolios, resumes, applying for jobs, and doing everything in their power to be ready for their dream job.

Joseph Collado is a third year animation student at Drury University. He enjoys storytelling and the unique abilities animation gives to storytelling. As a junior, he has begun preparing for internship and job opportunities. Collado provided InBetween417 with some insight into his preparations and advice to other students who are in his same shoes.

What steps are you taking to prepare for your professional life after you graduate?

I’ve been making a lot of connections and stuff online. I try to look for internships. It’s pretty difficult though because most of them are in Burbank, California, and we’re in Springfield, MO. So, I got to figure that one out. I know it’s most likely that I’m not going to just immediately get a job in the industry and, you know, move to California as soon as I graduate. So, I’m mostly just looking for jobs to keep me up while I can look for other jobs.

What type of job are you looking for?

I would love to be a part of an actual company. A company would be the most stable kind of job. I really want to do storyboarding work, because I found a love for that through my storyboarding class. If I was just like, you know, my title was like storyboard artist at Nickelodeon, I would love something like that. But I know, realistically, a lot of beginners tend to be freelance. So I mean, I’d be willing to do it. But, I’d love an actual company job, if I could.

I like the sense of community. I like having a team to work with, and I know, it’s going to be consistent. Because, like, I always feel like whenever the team has really good connections with each other the work always ends up being more passionate. So it feels like it would make the work a lot more enjoyable.

How are you building your portfolio?

I’ve been doing a lot of portfolio stuff recently. Normally they like you to have a website, a Vimeo account, or something like that. They want to see everything in one place. And so I’ve made a website, and I just have each tab devoted to whatever specialty that I’m doing. So I have finished animation projects, what I’m working on now, my capstone, and storyboarding. Whenever I actually apply somewhere, I just send them the link to that specific tab, whatever I’m applying to. They really prefer that. They seem to not like it whenever I show them everything and I’m like, I know I’m applying for storyboarding, but look at this animation I did. No. They tend to tell me to keep it to one thing.

I’ve also learned a lot about exactly how to present the things that they want to see. Like with storyboarding, I learned that they don’t like seeing thumbnails and little sketches. They like seeing the finished drawing for each board as one big drawing like something you’d use in an animatic.

What challenges have you faced while preparing for this transition period?

I think my biggest challenge has been having enough content to put on my portfolio. I feel like you always think you have enough content until they’re like this portfolio is kind of barren, and I’m like, oh no I didn’t realize that this wasn’t enough. And allowing myself to post work that I thought wasn’t good enough. Don’t be afraid to clean up your work and put it in your portfolio. I’ve had to remind myself that I can just clean up what I worked on last time and put it on my portfolio. [Employers] are going to be like, oh you’re willing to grow and change. So it’s a lot of getting past artist insecurity stuff. At least it was for me. Like, posting work that I wasn’t sure was good enough because I’m very much the type of artist that draws every day but I only post on Instagram like once a month. So letting myself actually put my artwork out there to be looked at by professionals was probably the biggest challenge for me personally.

What do you know now that you wished you knew earlier in the process?

I do know one good pro tip. I got this from someone who actually works in the industry. They consistently brought up the point that you should always show your best work first, and show the stuff that you’re kind of less proud of last. A lot of artists think that they’re being clever by hiding their best work amongst stuff that they’re not really proud of. It feels like you’re adding variety, but in reality what you’re doing is giving the people looking through one million applications more work to find the good stuff. Put your good work first, they want to see that.

What other advice do you have for fellow students?

I would say keep advertising yourself. Keep applying places. Most people think, if I don’t get the job, then there’s no point in posting work, or applying again. But honestly applying for work is the way to get other jobs too , or a way to get your stuff noticed in the first place. I applied for Netflix last year, and I didn’t get it because my portfolio was not organized. Now when I applied again, they remembered me from last time. They said things like we notice this work again, we’ll be looking at it again, and good improvements on your portfolio. I wasn’t just another applicant. They remembered me. And I’ve heard countless stories of people saying how they applied to be a storyboard artist, but they noticed how good my character animation was, so they offered me that job instead. People find their specialties that they don’t even realize they have from applying to jobs. So, don’t give up just because you aren’t noticed right away. Keep applying to places because it’s not useless. It actually is doing stuff for you.

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