Friday, September 17, 2010

You've Graduated. Now What?

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca, Roman philosopher, mid-1st century A.D.
You've just spent 3 years or so getting your degree. If you're a regular reader of this, that degree is probably in Digital Video and you've been forged in the crucible of one or more projects under my supervision. You know your stuff now. You really know it. You are prepared.

So now what?

Some of you will wait for opportunity to come knocking. Some of you will settle into life here in Arizona, or maybe back in your home town. You'll wonder why you're not working in this field that you love. You might even become bitter that your degree hasn't done more for you, that UAT hasn't done more for you, that I haven't done more for you. And unfortunately you might get stuck in that mode of thinking and if you do, you can rest assured that the elusive opportunity you seek will most certainly pass by your door without knocking.

But some of you - far too few in my humble opinion - will chase the dream and do whatever it takes to grab opportunity by the shirt collars and get its attention any way you can. You'll move to Los Angeles, or New York, or Austin, and you'll slowly but surely make it happen. You'll work for the Discovery Channel or on big-budget films like Avatar or maybe you'll rub elbows with one of our icons Robert Rodriguez. You might even stay here in the Valley and find a way to make a name for yourself here.

So what's the difference between these two groups of alumni? Well, the second group, the one chasing the opportunities - they make their own luck. They know that it's not enough to simply prepare. They know you have to chase it. You have to want it. And you have to be willing to go outside of your comfort zone and take a risk.

This week, one of my recent grads went through a mini-crisis that is both the reason for this blog entry and the proof of what I'm talking about. This grad went out to L.A. for a few days to hang with some of the other UATDV alumni who have landed out there, and he got a dose of how tough this business can be. The guys he spoke with out there - well, they're all looking for work right now. That's how it is sometimes. One day you're working on Avatar, the next you're "between gigs." It's rough, and it's not for the easily discouraged. Add to that the fact that this particular grad - whose demo reel is stellar (see below) - was being told by studios that he'd need four years of professional experience before they'd even consider him. All in all he came back from L.A. feeling very discouraged.

But did that stop him? No. He sat down with the Arizona Production Association guide and started researching postproduction houses here in the Valley. Turned out one of them had an opening for a freelancer with just this grad's skill set, starting immediately. On Monday was feeling like he'd had the wind knocked right out of his sails; but on Wednesday he started his first day working for a high-end post house on a project for a national client. Why? Is it because he's just lucky?

I say yes, he's lucky. Because he's done the preparation for the last three years and now he's actively pursuing the opportunities. He's not letting the business and its fickle ways get him down or stop him from making it happen. So let this be a lesson to all of you who are still waiting for opportunity to knock: You either make your own luck in this life, or you don't. It's all in your hands. Go after those opportunities. Chase 'em. Because they aren't going to chase you.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” - Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor of the motion picture

1 comment:

  1. I agree, and sat down with a DVA student helping to look for jobs that are open. We were both surprised to see game companies like UBISoft hiring for graphic designers. Don't just one sight your future, spend time to look at what is out there. You may be surprised at what industries need DVA students for various projects.