By: Diane Hu, Former Career Advisor for the College of Computing & Digital Media
You’ve probably heard many times about the importance of completing internships to gain experience, and to apply knowledge from classes in order to find a full-time position after graduation. This is great advice to pursue, but what about networking?
Ashley Ruhl (CDM’10), a cinematic designer at BioWare, is an advocate of networking during the job search. In fact, many of her positions since graduating six years ago were obtained from networking.
It all started with attending the Game Developer Conference (GDC) during her junior year. There, she met industry professionals who gave her advice on her reel, which then helped her realize what she needed to do to enter the industry. She started competing in the 11 Second Club, where she created work outside of DePaul and continued to receive feedback. Her work outside of the university reiterated to employers her passion for the field; She was able to obtain her first position after meeting a company in-person at a student organization event.
As she continued to attend and volunteer at the GDC and network in Chicago, she started building relationships with industry professionals. “Networking is about building friendships,” Ashley shared. She continues to maintain and start new friendships even today. Ashley also advises current students to build friendships with classmates. Developing relationships on both lateral and vertical levels are all important throughout your career.
In addition to networking, Ashley suggested that students create multiple reels (30 seconds to 1 minute) where each one is tailored to the studio. Understanding fundamentals through classes such as ART 218 Figure Drawing is essential to growing advanced skills, which you will also learn on the job. Taking ANI 310 Motion Capture and ANI 350 Advanced Motion Capture Studio will also help students gain important skills. Finally, Ashley advises students to be flexible in the following:
- The skills you gain
- They way you perceive yourself (Animator? Designer? Developer?)
- The companies you consider
It is important to gain experience first before deciding on locations, companies, and positions. By networking, and with more experience and knowledge of your industry, you will be fully equipped to find your career path and role.
Studying Animation or other degrees in the College of Computing and Digital Media, and have questions about your career path? Make an appointment with a career advisor! Appointments are also available onsite at the CDM Graduate Admissions Office; sign up on MyCDM.