It's on You
After having students reach out to me, talking at colleges, and hearing what my peers have to say, I've really begun noticing a trend in students now. That would be entitlement.
Here is the number one thing every student should know;
You don't deserve anything.
Just because you went to school, or because you are talented, doesn't mean the world will hand you the job you want once you have graduated. I know it may suck to hear it, but this industry is hard work.
Whether you attend CalArts or an Arts Institutes, YOU are responsible for the work you produce the entire time you are in school. A degree doesn't mean much, its what you actually take away from it. You need to be aware of what else is being produced out there and hold your art to your own standards (which may be higher than what your school expects of you). ...
Here's the thing: making it in Cartoonland takes
2) Work and tenacity
3) Skill and talent
5) Political chops
In other words the profession is a crap shoot. Also sometimes a sweat shop. Also (on occasion) a creative paradise.
I've had twenty years of newbies coming to my office and asking "How do I get into animation?" I tell all of them the same thing, that there are a bajillion different goat paths to the Promised Land, any fifty of which can lead to the mountaintop of success and moderately okay bucks ... or down to some dark canyon of non-employment and failure. Newbies come in as production assistants, trainees, and low-level administrators. Sometimes the transition from student to industry worker takes two weeks; sometimes a decade.
Added to which, people can go along for thirty years, never out of work, then the industry goes south taking a lot of quality artists with it. Because animation is a roller coaster and the only constant anybody can bank on is that boom times will follow recessions (and vice versa), over and over again.
Also too, when artists, writers and technicians hit the magical age of fifty-six, it's harder to get work because their network of contacts (usually older) have retired and the younger co-workers yukking it up down the hall have their own network, and the old-timers aren't in it.
So all in all, animation can be a frustrating, maddening profession. but when it clicks on all cylinders, it can provide a satisfying career in ways that holding a boom mike or pushing a camera dolly on a live-action set cannot. That's why so many twenty-three-year-olds are beating on the doors trying to get in.