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How did you find your first job?

Updated: 7 days ago

A survey to Animators, VFX and

Video games Artists

15 years ago, I found my first job by posting my demo on a 3D website forum.

Today, many people argue that going to school is mainly great for networking...

Are social networks a good way to find a job?

Is it the same today compared to 15 years ago? Let's find out!

This survey has been done online, with 54 relevant participants on May 2024.

I have organized the data as following:

  • Information about survey participants

  • Search method

  • Communication and artistic materials

  • Challenges, tips and fun facts

Information about survey participants

Participant's age

It's still a young people industry! Most participants are between 20 and 35 years old. But keep in mind, I have been posting this survey on Discord and Reddit, which have I think rather young users.


18 - 20 ---- 1,8 %

21 - 25 ---- 31,6 %

26 - 30 ---- 29,8 %

31 - 35 ---- 21,1 %

36 - 40 ---- 7 %

41 - 45 ---- 1,6 %

45 +  ---- 7 %

How did you learn animation / VFX...?

Most of you went to school (physically on a campus) 70,2 %

Online school or online training represents 10,5 %

12,4 % combined campus + other way

7% are self taught


How old were you when you found your first job?

(Data: How old are you - what year did you find your first job)

Two thirds of participants found their first job before the age of 25.

firt job

What was your 1st job?

first title

Do you still have the same title Today?

65% of you still have the same title today

same title

In which field did you find your first job?

industry animation

Are you still working in the same field today?

52,7 % is working in a different field today!

same industry

What is your current level today? 


Where was it?

first job country

When was it?

Interesting to see the pandemic bubble on the graph!

best year

So, let's see how you found your first job:

28,3 % of artists were offered a job, without having to make an active search! Lucky you!

job offer

Search method:

(For those actively looking for a job)

How many applications did you send?


40 applications in average .

How many weeks did it take for you to find your first job?


13 weeks in average .

How did you get your first job?

41,5% because they replied to a job offer

36,6% because they have sent an unsolicited application

22% has been contacted

job listing

Let's talk about Network:

27,8% Found a job via their network

From those 27,8%, how important is School network?


Let's talk about LinkedIn: 

1/5 had contacted the recruiter from the studio.

1/5 post a showreel on LinkedIn and has been contacted from this post.

3/5 replied to a job post.


Did you subscribe to LinkedIn Premium?

1 Participant on 6 had a Premium Subscription to LinkedIn

linkedin premium

Let's talk about Social Networks: 

1 participant  found his first job via Instagram

2 participants  found their first job via Facebook

About communication and artistic materials:

What was the main channel of communication ?

How did you talk with the studio or the recruiter?

Email exchanges 45,2%

Phone 16,1%

Real life talk  16,1% LinkedIn Chat 9,7%

Social Networks chat 12,9%


What Material did you have to show at this time?

artist material chart

Challenges, Tips and Fun facts:

Here is a compilation from participants' responses and testimonies:

Remember what your biggest challenge was as a junior looking for your 1st job?

"Finding the right balance between quality and speed in your first job can be tricky."

"Getting my reel in shape."

"School teaches you *****. You learn more on the job."

"Feedback. You never know if it's you, your experience, your work etc."

"I was alone and got the job on my own merits. I had no idea what to say or who to talk to or how to act." "Standing out from other candidates. There’s a lot of people out there who are better than you."

"Afraid of my reels doesn't match industry quality"

"Lack of answers from companies, not knowing what to improve and what change."

"The hardest part is staying positive and continuing to apply. Most applications you will not hear a single thing from and it is mentally difficult to get your hopes up a bout a position that would be a fit possibly get interviews and then get rejected. But your not alone and just keep moving forward and working on your reel. Things will eventually work out!"

"Make contact with studios"

"Understanding the world of work. Contracts, the various possible statuses, and choosing which path to take."

"Moving past the "we love your work, but you lack experience, so no."

"To avoid falling into depression. To not feel worthless and to stay motivated."

"Writing emails to recruiters. Being concise and to the point, avoiding excessive flattery. At first, it takes an hour to compose a stressful email, asking for lots of feedback. Over time, you learn to write the essentials in 5 minutes."

"Staying motivated to work on personal projects to keep progressing."

"Knowing how to "sell" myself."

"Overcoming the anxiety of not finding a job and staying resilient."

"Dealing with imposter syndrome is a major challenge."

"No experience, insufficient portfolio, and perceived low quality."

"Having a strong-enough demo reel to catch studios' interest."

"Deciding which direction to take."

"Deciding where to go, meaning when you have multiple options, you need to weigh the pros and cons."

"Searching for accommodation to be able to move to Paris."

"Obtaining the visa."

"Overcoming the lack of response to all my unsolicited job applications (no response, neither positive nor negative)."

"The loneliness in the face of rejection, the sudden feeling of being alone and having to navigate the world of work without feeling prepared, after five years of often being in groups during school."

Any tip you would like to give to an aspiring animator / VFX artist? (might be shared with results)?

"Don’t focus on networking as that can be very artificial. Your best connections are your best friends (literally). Focus on meeting people and making genuine connections rather than putting your name out there in hopes of a random recommendation. Online forums and servers where you can chat about art such as discord are great places to meet and become good friends with people"

"Start in TV, cut your teeth in television kids or series at a mid or smaller company to get your sea legs in animation, workflow and get faster by learning from seniors, leads and sups. There's no F**** around in TV. When you make the jump in to VFX or FEAT you'll be much better artist for the team."

"Call places or email! You never know!"

"Focus on your reel and get experiences. Don’t focus on the money (yet)"

"Work on a strong reel but also network/be a part of the community as much as you can."

"Take breaks when applying to avoid burnout, mentally and emotionally and physically"

"Better to do one or two things very well than many mediocre things. Try to get good at core art skills like life drawing, composition, anatomy etc as they are transferable for the rest of your career."

"Be passion driven"

"Start small, make something simple but good instead of something hard but bad"

"Developing your attention to detail will make you a better animator. Take life drawing skill to improve your understanding of anatomy and sense of observation. Study your reference closely and try to identify the center of gravity to understand how the weight shift around."

"Make sure to focus on both animation skills and soft skills. Being able to demonstrate that you have a good work ethic and are pleasant to work with is just as important as being a skilled animator. Alway be a team player. Connections can take you far and make job search a lot easier."

"Be genuinely kind to people. Share job postings with your colleagues. One of them may land the job and later help you get your foot in the door. Animation is a team sport so find your team and be a contributing member."

"Not restricting the search to France if possible."

"Staying resilient and not giving up, even if it means taking temporary jobs to make ends meet while searching for the first real job."

"I think LinkedIn is a great place to find job opportunities nowadays."

"As a beginner, be open to discovering various types of projects in any studio, and don't expect to work on the biggest productions in top studios right away because unfortunately, there aren't many openings."

"Knowing how to say No, and don't get abused, especially as a junior"

"To persevere, not just sending emails to the big companies that are highly sought after and often don't respond, but also seeking out all the existing companies and applying to smaller, lesser-known ones that are just as good. The work is the same, the atmosphere equally good, and you discover new projects there too."

"Hanging out in 3D Discord servers and posting work-in-progress (WIP) there."

"For animation, it's more specific and competitive compared to other branches, just like character design. I'd say be open to starting with positions that are hiring where you have skills. Be ready to start in modeling, for example, with hopes of doing what you want later on. It's still studio experience and contacts that will help you achieve your goals later."

"Not limiting oneself to a specific sector (film, video games, etc.) and/or specialization (modeling, etc.) right away in studies, but rather learning everything because if one sector is saturated, you can pivot and enter the industry differently, then return to your specialization later (and work on it in parallel)."

"I got my first job after my end-of-year jury; a studio was interested in my profile. I would advise students to always approach their exercises with the mindset that they could end up in their demo reel. For those who are not in school, I would say to never give up and be proactive in their job search. Some friends of mine were in that situation, and after a year of struggle, their hard work finally paid off. It's a tough situation, but it's not hopeless; efforts often yield results."

"Improve your portfolio."

" You'll always want to make things better, but sometimes deadlines push you in a different direction. It's something we all have to deal with and eventually figure out. Just remember, getting faster comes with experience. Don't be shy about asking questions or chatting with your bosses about ways to speed things up and meet project needs."

"Never give up; things will happen in due time."

"Don't give up, but also don't sell yourself short for the first job that comes along."

"Effectively showcase and polish the presentation of your work."

"Taking the first job that comes along provides valuable experience while you search for what you really want."

"Keep working on your portfolio whenever you have spare time."

"Try to be as aware as possible of your actual skill level and don't assume that after school, a studio owes you a place. Unfortunately, it's sometimes harder than expected, but don't give up."

"Only include your best projects in your demo reel, even if it means having only 2 or 3 projects, but very polished."

"Having the most GOOD contacts is important; having 1k contacts on LinkedIn won't help as much as having useful contacts."

"Don't give up; there are ups and downs. Even if you take a detour from 3D, keep working on your own, it will eventually pay off."

"Target the type of position and tailor the demo reel accordingly."

"Persevere and always strive to improve. Beyond skills, it's motivation and willingness that make people want to work with you. Skills come with experience, but if the desire to acquire them isn't there from the start, a lack of confidence will be noticeable. It's tough, especially when you've been searching for a long time, but don't give up!"

Any fun facts to share?

"I learned that starting at 9:30 AM was early." "When I started in London (As French) I wasn't really talking English. When my sup was giving me notes I was replying "I don't care" instead of "I don't mind" because I didn't know the difference ... Thanks to him for being patient with me"

"I was stressed, I wanted the job, and during the interview, I said, "I'm ready to do overtime." I got scolded by the boss, like, "You should never say that, are you crazy?" and we ended up working together for several years."

"I had a internship agreement signed by all parties. The studio changed their mind and canceled the internship to hire me for a job before I even started."

"After my interview and a trial week, I was on tenterhooks Friday afternoon waiting to hear if they'd decide to hire me. The director came to me and said "We won't need you to come in on Monday... ... because it's a holiday. See you Tuesday! You're hired!" What a jerk lol."

"I animated like my life depended on it in school, turns out the hardest school assignment is nothing compared to actual work."

"The job I got was already taken by someone, aka they had filled the needs of the studio by the time I met with a recruiter at an animation conference for a portfolio review. However, the recruiter I met liked me enough to put my name forward anyway, and then the Production Manager and Animation Director who it was sent to gave me an interview just to be kind I think, especially after the recruiter talked me up. Luckily they too liked me and my passion for animation (that's what they said) so they ended up creating an additional job opening in a team just for me. Oh, and I was so nervous about showing my work or putting myself out there and getting rejected or demotivated again that I almost cancelled, the day of the initial recruiter meeting."

"Video games dev in the 90s was basically one big drunken party with added periods of crunch"

"I basically relearn everything at studio"

"I thought I was taking a test. I laid out 3 scenes. Then they used my 'test' in the actual show."


Finding a first job is not always easy, as you can see it took 13 Weeks in average and 40 applications for participants to find it.

I would summarize few things:

  • Work on your portfolio and always try to improve it.

  • Make it short but great!

  • Keep it cool, don't be a jerk, be nice with people. There is no need for competition. It is a team work!

  • It's a passion job, and also just a job. Keep it this way for your mental health.

  • Make a network of great people, ask them for advice and feedback on your work.

  • Demo reel is the most important thing.(Over a degree or CV or else...)

  • Indeed school is a great way to create a network.

  • Keep your eyes open on LinkedIn, it seems to be the perfect place to find a job, but also contact recruiters or artists from different studios.

  • Post your work online; who knows, you have a great chance of being hired without having to look for a job!

Our industries are rollercoasters, for work, for mental health,

but it's also full of fun and amazing people to work with. Keep having fun and making great stuff to watch and play with! Feel free to comment or ask questions! Would you like to see more of this?

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