Time for another dose of ILIHL (1976 to now.) ...
There's a bunch of different routes into the animation biz, almost as many ways as there are people.
* You can come in as an intern/trainee ... and they'll pay you not much.
* You can come in as a big shot (or medium shot) from a related business ... and they'll pay you more.
* The entry door is bigger when the industry is roaring, but even when it's not, there's still a semi-open entrance ... and it will be bigger than a mouse hole if you have the right skill set.
It's important to play well with others.
* Artists come to me from time to time with the complaint: "My boss in unreasonable and wrong. What can I do?"
I tell them: "You've got a decision to make. Do you want to stick to your principles, tell them off and be right? Or do you want to be employed? Because from what you tell me, it's gonna be tough to be both."
* A wise old animation artist told me long ago: "Be nice to your co-workers on the way up, because at some point during your career they're going to be the person who's in a position to hire you ..."
* It's useful to start each workday like you're in a popularity contest ... because in one respect or another, you are. (You're always playing the political game ... whether you want to or not. The only question is: Are you playing the game well? Or badly?)
* When you're wrong, apologize. It won't kill you. (And the apologizee will appreciate it.)
* Build a network of allies and mentors. One or more of them will help you to your next job.
* Don't whine; don't argue. Otherwise you'll acquire a reputation of being a pain in the backside.
To the extent possible, do NOT live paycheck to paycheck.
* Put away 10% (or more) of what you earn. Always live below your means.
* Assume you're going to be unemployed at some point, because you will be.
* If and when you start pulling down the Big Bucks, don't make the mistake of thinking: "This is the way it was meant to be, and this is the way it will be forever." Because it won't.
* Focus on building a retirement next egg -- 401(k), SEP IRA, Roth IRA, etc. -- at the earliest opportunity. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll be financially independent.
The more arrows (skills) you have in your quiver, the more employable you will be over time.
* Grab every opportunity to acquire more training. (Classes, grad school, after-work training.)
* Ask somebody with more chops than you to give you pointers.
* Offer to help newbies. (Most of them will remember and think kindly of you when they're in charge of your department.)
What I wished I'd done at the start of my checkered career:
* Been less of an argumentative a-hole.
* Practiced the Golden Rule more (Not "He who has the gold, makes the rules," but the "Do unto others ..." version.)
* Said "Sure, I'll be happy to do that," more often.*
(* Note: In some ways this job of biz rep has been perfect for me, because you have to be an argumentative a-hole from time to time to do it semi-effectively. On the other hand, being endlessly unpleasant never carries you all that far ...)