Big Project Survival – Phase II “The Grind”

Big Project Survival – Phase II “The Grind”

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22 MARCH 2017

written by Mike

BIG PROJECT SURVIVAL

PHASE II “THE GRIND”

 

Ok, you planned every detail. The troops are ready to go. The battle begins slowly; everything goes according to The Plan. And suddenly, things are starting to go south; morale is falling.

What is happening?

That’s the middle no one wants to talk about. The grind, the dirt, the struggle. The time has come, the second part of the guide is due.

Focus on one task, have a specific list.

Whenever I can, I prepare material in advance. I look at the schedule and make my list. As long as I stick to it, it’s a smooth sailing.

But wait!

We are in the middle of the storm here. Your plans don’t matter anymore.

What can you do?

I found that it was best to focus on one task. People will ask you for favours and help. Don’t take too much on yourself. It’s better to do one thing right than a lot of things poor. As they tend to come back later. If you want to make a list, good. But accept it will change on a day. And prioritise. You will have to decide what can wait. In the project life cycle, there will be ups and downs. In the evening, I would make a list for the morning. Midday next day I would review and change. Update it in the afternoon again. The list kept me organised, but it was easy to deviate from it too.

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Don’t play the blame game, mistakes happen.

You and the rest of the team are working long hours. Everyone is tired. Mistakes will happen. It is unavoidable. Now, it can go two ways. You all can think of a solution, fix the problem and move on. Or you can blame each other. We are all human so emotions will call the first shot. Especially when someone’s mistake affected your work.

And I would be the first one to think “why is he/she doing that? What were they thinking?” only to find out, moments later, about my blunders. Work together.

It is the only way to get through it.

It can get hard, but you are all in this together. The importance of morale.

It will get hard. And if you want to push through every day, you need a great team around you. Forget about the gossip and office drama. When you see the same people day in and day out, from dusk till dawn, you know it is all or nothing. So help others if they need help, don’t let the negativity creep in. The table won’t stand if one leg is broken.

In a toxic environment, you won’t get far. Don’t show your tiredness. Understand you are in the middle of the project life cycle.

Talk to everyone, even if it’s for a brief moment.

And not just about work.

Be upbeat, other people will follow

Create a fun environment. Bring some cookies with you and make a silly joke. Have confidence in yourself and others. Misery loves company, yes it is true. But so does joy. And laughter is contagious, everyone knows that. A couple of days ago I was talking to someone about the project, and she asked me,

“How did you manage it?”

“I think it was the hardest job we’ve done. And people who have been working there for much longer, agreed. But you know what?

We had so much fun; morale was through the roof!”

And then I thought to myself if she had asked me about the worst time I had at work. I’d say it probably was when we had nothing to do.

Don’t moan, work on solutions.

You will want to complain.

Why?

Because it’s easy. And everyone can relate to it. “I’m tired. It’s late again. I haven’t seen my girlfriend in ages!” All of the above is true, I’m not going to deny it. But you knew what you were signing up for. Stating the obvious will not change anything.

And also, guess what?

Your colleagues are missing their families too. I would be too embarrassed to complain in front of my boss who was there longer than anyone else. And he’s got children, I haven’t.

If there is a setback, work on a solution. If you agreed to stay longer, don’t grumble about it.

It will only make you feel worse on the night.

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If there is no one else, take the lead.

Assume responsibility when needed. When you need to talk to your boss, do it. But believe me, he or she will be much happier if you can take some stuff in your hands. I know that I talked about the chain of command before. Still, there will be moments when there is no one to turn to.

Take command, guide your peers and after the crisis, go back to your post. And there is no need to gloat. You have done your duty.

Have a healthy daily routine in place.

This one is important for me. I try to experiment with my routines, and this project was the perfect opportunity. I had to plan around the project life cycle.

I organised my food, sleep and exercise. Even though the days were long, I would still drag myself to the gym whenever I could. I watched what I ate, no junk food or sugar. I cut back on coffee, and I made sure I got, at least, seven hours of sleep a day.

So what is the verdict?

It’s good. Every day I would wake up full of energy and willpower. I sustained the heaviest period without much damage.

I can only compare to other projects when my routine was cigarettes, take away food and lack of sleep. And to be honest, I prefer the new “normal.”

You need to figure out your way. But if you stretch your body too much, you can crash and burn. Just like I did before.

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Big Project Survival – Phase I “The Plan”

Big Project Survival – Phase I “The Plan”

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18 MARCH 2017

written by Mike

BIG PROJECT SURVIVAL

PHASE I “THE PLAN”

 

Not so long ago I was a part of a team working on a big project. It was a high-profile job, and it lasted for several weeks. And it started at the back of another task. I’m not going to lie; it was tough. The project’s life was about three weeks. We worked every day, doing crazy hours. It was relentless. There was a moment when we though we are not going to deliver. The light at the end of the tunnel was dim.

Why am I writing all this?

Well, because it will happen to you. One way or another. There will be a project that will test your ability to focus. And last minute changes will mean that months of planning and preparation will go out of a window. It was mad; it was hard. But we did deliver. And it was a great way to finish off the year. Anyway, the whole venture gave me an idea for a short guide. A guide on how to survive the grind.

You better start to get ready.

PHASE I – THE PLAN

 Be flexible. Plan in advance but understand it will all change. Start with the end in mind.

We planned for the most of the year. Everyone knew it will be tough. And still, we were caught off guard.

Why?

Deadlines were moved just weeks before the start. Every day there would be an unexpected last minute change request from the client. There were delays, staffing problems, software crashes. It felt like there was a crisis every thirty minutes. And yet we managed.

How?

Yes, the plan was gone, but we adapted to the new environment. Every problem had a quick solution; we knew that somehow we need to make it work. And you will do too. Start with an end in mind. As long as you and the team know where you are going, the rest will follow. Flexibility will be your best ally.

 

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Have a proper chain of command. Check who is available.

You and the guys need to know who is in charge. Everyone can present different ideas but in the end, you will need one person to make a decision. It’s good to have a clear understanding who is in charge. I worked on some projects where it was just a full improv. No firm leadership.

And yes.

Creativity, no rules and all that. It’s all fine. But when you are in deep trouble, you will need a swift decision. You don’t want to be in a situation where there are people in the room asking “Ok, so what do we do next?” Believe me, I’ve been there. If there is no one else, assume responsibility. And move the whole thing forward. A squad needs a commander.

Second thing, availability.

If your department is a full-time staff place, then you know the limits. And as long as no one is ill, it should be okay. But if you need the help of freelancers, book them in advance. Make sure they know the dates. They can still pull out, so have reserves ready too. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Check your gear.

It should be a no-brainer. Make sure all your rooms are up and ready. Any updates and maintenance should be done at least few weeks in advance. If possible, check the limits and capacity. It’s alright when you have a simple project. But when the big one comes in, and you are running your equipment all day all night; that’s when the stuff goes wrong.

We even calculated how long it takes to have everything back on track in a case of server failure. Twenty-two minutes. And, surprise surprise, when the servers failed all it took was a quick tea break, and we were back in business. And the clients didn’t mind too.

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Get Creative With Your Internship

Get Creative With Your Internship

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12 MARCH 2017

written by Mike

GET CREATIVE WITH

YOUR INTERNSHIP

Work experience.

We all know the circle. You can’t get experience without work; you can’t get work without the experience. A modern day paradox. James Citrin lists a few strategies on how you can get around it.

You can also find hundreds of other helpful sites on that topic. And yes, stuff, like getting credentials or willing to start at the bottom, is useful. But I noticed that there aren’t many websites that talk about internship itself.

Finding an internship is one thing, but getting most out if it is something else. It’s time to get creative.

What is a work experience?

I see it more as I learning experience rather than work. So, for example, you want to work in a movie industry. You are doing some TV and Film College course with lectures in every aspect of the business. From writing to filming. After a while, you discovered that you liked the sound. And with a bit of luck, you scored a work experience.

I understand there are many different programs to choose from. But my focus here is going to be on a one week-long, unpaid studio runner position. In a sound post production department.

During this short time, you can see for yourself what the job is all about. And if it suits you.

So you want to be a mixer?

But are you comfortable with spending days in a dark room without windows?

Working on something that few people appreciate?

I know, I know. I am painting a bleak picture here. The point is, during your internship you can learn what you want to do. And yes I understand. Doing work for free is unfair. Big corporations are using loopholes in the law, it is unethical, it is wrong, etc. And?

What else would you be doing instead?

Use that time. Meet new people, talk to them, sell yourself.

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Before I get to a patronising advice on how to behave in a workplace. I want to tell you a few stories. These are real anecdotes from my previous workplace. I want to show you how different people are, and what you could gain from work experience.

P. was a young man, around 18-year-old. Spent a week with us, helping out. Not many clients, not that much to do. He spent most of his time on the sofa in the corridor. Sleeping. Didn’t do much else. I don’t think I spoke to him besides a “You alright, man?”

M. was a girl in her teens. Enthusiastic and full of energy. Sat with us on some projects, asked questions. We could see she was interested and thrilled to be there. She wanted to make use of every minute she spent with us.

Another story is about two guys who did a week of work experience with us last year.

D. spent three days on the sofa. On his phone. He didn’t clean the kitchen when asked to; his attitude was poor. I asked him if he wanted to walk with me around the studios as there was a production going on that day.

“Nah…I’m alright. Thanks, man.” – he said to me.

“Ok, no problem. What did you say you were studying?” I asked.

“Media and Film, really into that, man.”

Yes, I could see the passion in his eyes.

T. was quite opposite. He cleaned and organised the kitchen after one day. He sorted taxis, drinks, and snacks for clients in the morning. He joked with us all day and walked around the studios during lunch hours.

“Good for them!” you may say, “But how is this going to help me?”

Think about it. All these people were given the same chance, same opportunities. But some of them used it and reaped the benefits later on. The other guys, well, I don’t remember them anyway. Life goes on.

Yes, it can be tough out there. And until I earned my reputation with hard work and dedication I worried too. I worried that there were hundreds of people just like me, hungry for my position. And most of them would do it for less money too.

How do you thrive in a competitive environment like that?

We will get to it at some point, but for now, let’s get back to the subject. If you worry at this moment, don’t. Well, a little bit of fear helps, but the point is to get what you want. I want to give you few tips on how you can get the most out of your work experience. I think these will help you not only to stand out but also to enjoy the internship.

We call it the ‘experience” for a reason.

Number one is:

Create your value, show what you are worth.

Sound cliché? Well, it is.

When I ask you to clean the kitchen, I want to see the cleanest kitchen on planet Earth. Time to make tea for clients?

You serve it with a smile, great attitude, and good manners. Arrive early; maybe there is something that you could do before people get in. You could empty a dishwasher of something. And don’t even think about being late.

People may not say anything to you, but they will notice it. See, a lot of people take these opportunities for granted. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because they don’t get paid for it, perhaps because it doesn’t guarantee a job after. You need to understand that relationships you develop are something that counts. Networking and acquiring contacts are awesome, but how you connect with people makes all the difference.

I sat in a pub with a sound supervisor for a big video game companyonce, and he told me. “Look, when I’m seeking to hire someone I look for drive, passion and value. I ask you for a hamburger, and you bring me a three-course dinner. The skills I can teach, attitude is yours.”

“Look, I’m going to spend at least eight hours a day working with you. Why would I hire someone that I don’t like?”

Ok, so being likeable works. Unfortunately, you only have a week.

The question is, can you develop a meaningful relationship within a week?

I guess you could, but if you are like me, then it can be a hard job. I’m not shy, but it takes me a couple of weeks to come out of the shell. I know myself, so I don’t try to fake it. But some strategies can help you if you are a bit introverted.

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Don’t be shy, ask questions!

I know it’s tough. People around you are experienced and smart. Some of them had won biggest awards in the industry.

How can you dare to speak to them at all?

Believe me; I’ve been there too. To tell you the truth, most of them are the kindest, most helpful people you will ever meet. Yes, you will meet the occasional jerk, but who cares? Ignore him.

Ask questions.

Be interested, talk to people.

Have an interest in what we do. If you look like you don’t care, we will not care about you too. And talk to people. Ask how was their morning, how was their work commute.

“Any big projects coming up?”

Interact, remember the names, introduce yourself. And try not to talk about yourself too much.

Be easy-going, easy to talk to.

I remember this guy who was with us for a few day. Nice guy but needy, to the point of awkwardness. He kept saying how much he wants a job in the industry, how awesome everything is. Enthusiasm is great, I agree. But boundaries are pretty good too. I was on my tea break when he came over and asked:

“So, tell me. Are you living your dream?”

“Uhm…I guess…it is a pretty good tea.”

I think it was a green tea with a hint of mint.

Lunch time!

Lunch break is significant. Lunch time is an hour when we’re friends. It’s a time when people don’t want to talk about work. It’s a time when you can get to know them. So don’t be a stranger, don’t sit in a corner by yourself. I know it can be intimidating. All these people know each other, they got inside jokes and stories.

Don’t worry about it.

Sit with them. Laugh when they laugh. Nod when they talk. And speak up when you feel like you can add something interesting to the conversation. I think a good advice is to sit with full-time employees rather than other interns. I mean, yes it may be easier to get to know other newcomers. You are in the same boat; it is simpler to connect.

But the truth is, this kind of strategy will not get you far. Yes, be friends with other trainees, but make your face memorable to people with influence too.

Few more quick points to add would be:

Say magical words “thank you” each time someone helps you out or teaches you something. Remember, they are taking their time to do that.

Maybe switch off your phone? Or put it on silence. And try not to use it. Talk to people, walk around, focus on your tasks. Your phone is not going anywhere, and fewer distractions are better for you.

Don’t gossip about other people.

Gossiping is the easiest way to “break ice”, but don’t do it. You wouldn’t want someone else to do that to you too. Studies show that when you say something negative about other people, your listeners will associate these negative traits with you.

It’s called Spontaneous Trait Transference

If you want to say something about someone, let it be a positive thing.

Work hard. Come in early, leave late, absorb everything and give your maximum effort.

It is that simple.

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Tips for a Great Resume

Tips for a Great Resume

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25 FEBRUARY 2017

written by Mike

TIPS FOR A GREAT RESUME

 

Having a good resume is important. You read that statement everywhere, you hear it from your career advisor, it seems like a no-brainer.

But what does CV stand for today?

And is it still that important?

I would argue that yes. Yes, it is. Why? Well, I understand that the world is changing, social media is everywhere, portals like LinkedIn are creating new ways for job hunters like you. And a classic style resume may not be as valid in the future. But today most employers are still a bit old fashioned. They like a good CV. One they can hold in their hands. And even if they don’t care, I can guarantee that HR will appreciate it.

I always say it is better to meet the people you want to work for in person first. You could attend an event, conference or even some kind of a technology expo. I remember attending Gamescom with my younger brothers couple of years ago.

Besides the newest games, there was a corner with education and career advisors. It’s an easy way to make some contacts face to face. I think most of the exhibits like that have some “career corner.” But I know that it is not always an option to go to this kind of events. In that case, your CV will be your brand seller. Your face.

What does it mean?

It means that based on your resume you will end up in either YES or NO folder. I remember, once I saw my manager working through tens of CVs. There were two folders, green YES, and red NO on his desktop. “Hey, where is a ‘maybe’ folder?” I asked him. “I haven’t got time for a maybe.”

How you build your CV is important. It takes about 10 seconds to scan it with managerial eyes and if you don’t have anything that will stop them. Well, welcome to the NO folder. I’ve seen a lot of CVs; I have designed a lot of CVs for other people too. And I know one thing for sure. People don’t know how to write their resumes! I mean, one time someone sent me a CV written by hand. It looked like a child wrote it.

It is that bad.

But have no fear! I want to share with you few insights and few tips on how to tailor your bio. All these tips are universal and don’t apply just to music or sound industry.

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Know the position

Read the job description. You want to know what you are applying for, but also if it’s a good fit for you too.

What are the requirements?

Are there any specifics?

If yes, then make sure you mention all them on your CV. My girlfriend’s boss said they first thing they look at is if CV says all the things they ask in the job advert. It is a requirement. I know that some of these things can seem like common sense to you. “I don’t need to put that on my CV. It is evident that I know this, and it will just take up space.” It can land you in the NO folder before anyone has a chance to read the rest of the stuff from your resume.

 Adjust your skills

 It is an important point. If a job offer says “sound designer” and the studio asks about your sound design skills, mention them. Don’t write that you have live sound mixing experience. At least not as your selling point. Yes, it is a nice touch, but the company is looking for a sound designer and not for a live sound mixer. People always say “I sent out hundreds of CVs and so far, no reply!”

Yes, hundreds of the same, generic ones. Don’t be that person. I know it requires some work up front to do these changes, but it will pay off later. So instead of sending 10 CVs a day, send two. Tailored and adjusted for the jobs you want.

For me, templates are the answer. I would have three main templates that I’d adjust every time I want to send an application out.

The three resume templates are:

Skill based

Work-based

Education based

Skill based CV will focus on your skill set. Write down what are you good at and why you are good at it. Remember that first you want to answer all the job requirements. Next are other relevant skills. A great portfolio is a must. Especially in sound industry. Have the portfolio ready online and include the link in your emails.

A work-based resume is a standard one. And usually the best choice. List your projects; you can do it by date or relevance. Project list should include where did you work and what did you work on. Include your responsibilities and skills you used for the job. And not just technical know-how. People skills are essential too. Communication, teamwork and good project management. These are the words all employers like to hear.

Education based can be the weakest one. Especially when you want to get into sound engineering world. Why? I don’t know if any of the people I worked with in post production had degrees in sound. But with twenty years of experience behind their belt, a piece of paper will not impress. If it’s your only option, make the best out of it. List your education but make sure to include what did you worked on. And why is it relevant to the job description. It would be good to mention all the extra projects that you did your free time.

And a strong portfolio will be helpful too.

 

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Bullet points

Don’t write long lines. 

Just.

Bullet.

Points.

Something that will catch the eye.

And will make it stop.

For a second.

Some people argue that paragraphs can work well too. But I say you should save them for the covering letter. When managers have a hundred resumes to go through, and it is almost lunch time, attention span is short. You have around 10 seconds before they move onto the next one. Don’t write long sentences and get to the point. Make it clear, easy to read and simple. Sometimes one word can be worth more than a hundred. 

 

Covering letter, yes or no?

 

It is a tricky one, and it depends on the job offer. Did they request one? Then write a short, concise and personalised paragraph on why you are the best candidate. I’m not the biggest fan of covering letters as most of them sound the same. I asked my office manager what did she think about them.

“Keep it simple, keep it short. I don’t want to know your life story.”

So there you go. If you need one, write it for the particular job. Don’t use a template. Read it out loud a few times, make sure it flows. Again, someone will spend around ten to fifteen seconds on reading it. Make sure it is the most exciting ten seconds of their day.

Also, check out the publication from CareersWiki and these cover letter examples by Novoresume.

 

Layout and graphic design 

I’m big on design. My girlfriend is an excellent graphic designer, so I get a lot of good info from her. But let me tell you one thing. Most of CV designs that people sent to the studio where I worked were so bad that we usually run a contest for the worst one. We either got a Word document with bad formatting. Or something with too many graphics and colours. Do not complicate this one. Use one, maximum two colors. Have a beautiful header or a sidebar. Make it easy to look at and easy to read.

 

Don’t be a liar

It is that simple. Don’t lie on your resume. The truth will come out eventually. Today it is easy to check your background (thanks, the internet!). So be careful if you want to make up some education or past work experience. And when it comes to your skills, lying may get you the job but after one week everyone will see the truth. You can say you are still learning, or you are keen on extra free training or something. But don’t lie.

 

Email + attachments

The last point is more of a reminder for you. Make sure your email contains all your documents, CV and covering letter. Make sure you label everything in a transparent manner. Easy and straightforward to read. I don’t want to say a number, but one in ten job application emails is empty. And I don’t mean the text. People still write “Please find my CV attached.” and nothing.

I mean, come on. Check it twice, three times even. Just make sure that everything you want to send is there. Remember, there is no MAYBE folder. Only YES and NO. Work on you CV, make sure it’s perfect. And don’t skip the tip about reading the job description.

My girlfriend told me that once a girl had an interview at their workplace. She seemed nice; the interview went well too. But at the end when the boss asked her “So, do you have any questions?” she had one

“Uhm..I sent out a lot of job applications lately. Can you remind me what position we are talking about?”

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How to Find No Experience Jobs

How to Find No Experience Jobs

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18 FEBRUARY 2017

written by Mike

HOW TO FIND

NO EXPERIENCE JOBS?

 

Work experience. Everyone talks about it, but no one saw one. How can you find no experience jobs? I want to mention modern paradox – work experience loop. Can’t work without experience, can’t get experience without work.

All jokes aside, yes it is still a valid subject. There is training available for graphic designers, photographers, audio editors. You just need to know how and where to look for it. I’m going to focus on the film industry as I have the most experience in that matter. But I did other work too, so you must remember that this advice can apply to any industry or profession you are in.

I know that people will say things like “starting out is hard, no one knows me…”

Yes, finding a nice, comfortable, nine-to-five position will be difficult. But with the power of the internet, there are other (better?) ways to, not find, but create your job. Anyway, we are getting off-topic here.

First of all, is work experience worth it and should you look for one?

Well, yes and no.

It depends on what you understand by experience. But I also want you to stop thinking about it one dimension.Getting an unpaid week in a legendary recording studio? Yes, that’s cool.

But it is also quite hard as there aren’t that many big recording studios around, and I doubt that they have a quick turnaround. By all means, try. Someone has to work there, right? In my opinion, it will be easier to try a smaller, independent studio.

Listen, there are many ways to get the ‘experience’. And thanks to the internet your opportunities are unlimited. You can work on projects from all around the world. And you don’t even need to leave your bedroom. Of course, there are some obstacles.

For example, film industry, games, and music are tight places to enter. It seems that everyone knows each other, so reputation is everything. And word travels fast, really fast. I had colleagues that liked to gossip and bad-mouth their managers. Don’t ever do that. It’s hard to get a gig when people know that you have a big mouth.

So yeah, it’s tough to get a foot in the door. But I got in and so can you.I want to give you a few general tips on what can you do starting right now. Also, I’m going to share with you a few stories. Stories of my friends and how they got their way. And believe me. Everybody’s journey is different.

Student and unpaid projects 

Yes, I know. Working for free sucks. But think of it as an investment in yourself. Take on different projects. Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll learn a lot, and you will meet new people. You know that Danny Elfman, and Tim Burton started their relationship early? And look at them now. Spielberg and Hanks know each other for a few years now. These kinds of collaborations kick off early. Relationships take years to develop so don’t think it’s working with the best or nothing. Next “best” may be still going to school.

I’ve done my share of free work. Some of it was good, some not so much. Most of it didn’t lead to anything, but I still value the time. I learned more that I would in a class. It helped me to try different things. And I developed relationships. Easy example, a friend who I helped on some little project had a six weeks gig at a movie studio. When he moved to something different, he recommended me. From there I’ve agreed to do some free training. I worked there as a freelancer and then became a full-time employee for a couple of years. Without the small project we did together, my friend wouldn’t know if I was any good. And would recommend someone else.

You can’t plan for everything.

I have friends who still take on free work. They are professionals in their field. They will come in on weekends when mixing theaters are empty. And they work on some low-budget projects. Some of it pays, some doesn’t. They still love it.

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Festivals and unpaid studio work

I would say do it whenever you can. This one is a bit harder as you will need to know some people on the ‘inside.’ Your other projects can lead to these relationships. And if you don’t have that option then your determination will be your other chance. Look up email addresses, Facebook contacts or LinkedIn profiles of people in charge or people working in a venue of your interest. And contact them.

Perseverance is the key. Pester them. Wear them down. There are plenty of opportunities. Research areas near you. I know that everyone wants to work on the biggest festivals. But I’m sure there are lots of small events that you can do.

My unpaid work experience was on world music festival. All organised by charity.I worked on a smaller stage as a supervisor, greeting bands and setting them up These few days were tough. We slept on stage. It was cold and wet. I run the event from early morning to late evening. What did I gain? Experience in live music, decision making, teamwork, microphone techniques, authority and the list goes on and on.

What about studio internships? These are a bit harder to get. Why? Well, there are a lot of people who want it. And because everyone is at the same level it’s a matter of luck and knowing somebody. By all means, do apply. But this kind of offer should be another thing that you do, not the only one. 

Perseverance

What do you have to lose? Nothing. What can you gain? You don’t know. And that is why it’s exciting.There was a guy who contacted everyone in our department.

I think he got the info from LinkedIn or Facebook. He kept asking for training for months. We had to get him in. Just to stop the bloody emails. In the end, it didn’t work as he lacked technical skills. But he did get a week of training and opportunity for freelance work. At least now he knows the next step.

When my brother was seventeen, he was looking for work. At one restaurant, the manager said to him that he was going to call him the next day. I remember I was working behind the bar on that day when my brother showed up all sad and bitter.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“They didn’t call me. They meant to call me today. I’ll never find a job. Everything sucks!”

“Ok, it’s six pm now. Get up and see him now. The place is two minutes from here.” I made him do it.

What happened? He caught the manager as the guy was leaving the place. Turned out he forgot to contact my brother. The manager asked him to do a trial shift and hired him after that. Moral of the story? You guessed right, it’s perseverance.

Now you may say, “Oh well, good for him, but I’m still waiting for tips how I am going to get what I want.”

You must understand that everyone has a different story to tell.

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Few other tips

My friend who was a sound designer at a big game design studio got one year long paid internship through university. He completed the contract and returned to finish his studies. After the graduation, the studio hired him back. A few years passed since then; he finished as a leader of people who were pioneering the art of sound on next-gen consoles. Why did they want him back? He is a good teammate; he is a hard worker and a likeable person.

It’s that simple.

My friend tweeted a manager from another department asking about vacancies. The tweet reached my boss who offered him a training opportunity. He got a full-time position after a couple of months. At the moment, he is a team leader, working with sound editors on big blockbusters. How did he get there? He is a smart, friendly person. And he took upon himself to deliver a challenging project when no one asked him to take this kind of responsibility. It’s important to recognise these moments.

Another one of my colleagues got a week long work experience through her father. He knew someone at the office. After her gig, she got a call from the boss asking if she wanted to do some freelance work. After a couple of weeks, she got a full-time contract. How did that happen? Relationships – her father knew the right people. Luck? Yes, she was at the right place at the right time. People just left the department, so there was an open position. Hard work? You bet. She learned fast and always delivered her best. When I started, she was a supervisor, only after about five months being there.

My story is entirely different too. I spent a couple of weeks at the studio shadowing my friend. I wasn’t expecting a job out of it, just some CV experience. For me, it was a perfect opportunity at that time. After a couple of weeks, I got asked to help out on one of the projects. I have also volunteered to train for free during their downtime. After six months of both free training and paid freelance, I was offered a full-time position with the company. How did I get there? Relationships and luck? Yes, it was my friend who recommended me. But I made my success. After a week of shadowing him, I realised this could be bigger. I resigned from my bartending job, and I quit doing stage setup at local clubs. Hard work and the risk paid off in the end.

It is important to recognise opportunities. You never know who can help you and how the events of the present will affect your future. Work experience is a great thing. Don’t think about it in black and white terms. You may not get a job afterwards. But you may learn your real passion, your likes, and dislikes, your character.

Remember, it’s not only about your goals, it’s the journey that matters.

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Pros and Cons of Full Time Employment

Pros and Cons of Full Time Employment

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08 FEBRUARY 2017

written by Mike

PROS AND CONS OF

FULL TIME EMPLOYMENT

 

For a few years I worked for a big movie studio in a post production department. Our projects were the biggest blockbusters in the recent times, and the inflow of work is quite steady. “Dream job!” you may want to shout. Well, just like everything this kind of career choice also has its faults. Let’s have a look at strong and weak points of working nine to five in a ‘factory of dreams.’ 

 

Advantages

Steady money.

I guess this is the biggest one. Nothing to do and you spend all day on your phone? Not to worry, a paycheck will be the same.

Is Christmas coming up? Holidays?

Not to worry, you can calculate how much you will earn and save. Every month you are guaranteed to receive agreed amount of money. It is your salary. If a company is doing ok, your salary is not affected. Profits rise? You can expect a bonus or a raise. Planning holidays, birthdays, family, house, cars and anything in between is much easier when you know you have a steady monthly income. It gives you that peace of mind.

Steady work.

All contracts are negotiated by company directors and can last for years. The company I worked for had schedule sorted for next few years, and this was only a core contract. There are usually small, short-term projects coming in too. You can plan and develop strategies months in advance. You can predict how difficult the project will be and how much additional man/woman power you will need. When you go on holiday, you go on vacation. Meaning, you don’t have to think about clients or money. You can rest.

The company is the brand, and you are helping to build it.

 

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Credit score.

Mortgage plans? Loan for a new car?

No problem. I don’t have to write that banks and lending companies will look at you with a smile when they see your job contract. It means your income is steady, and it means you can pay back your loans. The risk of your default is much lower than a risky freelancer, so it is easier to take advantages of modern world financial system.

Holiday/tax/insurance.

Again, you don’t have to worry about it too much. Your tax will be sorted by Finance Department. Insurance is paid before you receive your money. A pension plan should be in place too. And you get paid holiday (at least here in Europe). The money that you receive at the end of every month is yours. Meaning, you don’t need an accountant of a financial advisor. Just a bit of rationality and a good sense of what to do with your cash.

People.

I can guarantee that you will be surrounded with smart and experienced people.

And this is every day, at least, five days a week. It means it is an excellent opportunity for you to learn, develop your skills and get mentors. Some of the people I worked with had been with the company for over twenty years. Working on classic pictures and with analog sound and classic mixing desks. Their stories, experience, and knowledge are priceless. Trust me, six months with these people and I learned more than in four years of college. The environment will keep you motivated and inspired. And you don’t have distractions such as TV or games, which also helps.

 

Disadvantages

 

Comfort.

“Comfort?! How is that a bad thing?!”

I know, it is quite controversial. For a bit, I was contemplating how I should categorise it. For me, it’s a drawback, but for you, it can be the best thing. It is a personal thing so don’t take my word for it. I tend to think that people can get too comfortable.

Steady money? Check.

Regular work? Check.

Well, it means that you don’t have to worry too much, right?

It does. But it can also mean a lack of challenge. You can get complacent. And it can be a bad thing. You must know yourself and your priorities first, only then you can decide what is best for you.

Corporate ladder.

Big company means a corporation. Working in a small advertisement company may be different, but corporation means bureaucracy. Big means slow. Any change or request will have to be approved by three different managers, director, and board of members. For the people in Finance department, you are number 367. You are your tax code. And it also means office politics. You better learn how to play the game, or you will end up resenting it every day.

I know people who thrive in this kind of environment, but I also know a few who loathe it. Which one are you? 

 

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Can’t start/leave on your time.

You show up at nine; you leave at five. It does not matter that it’s not busy. That you end up sitting on a couch all day. You still have to clock in and clock out. And days like that can be slow. Of course in a busy environment, they are relatively rare but still can happen. And sometimes they can make you question your career choices.

Can’t choose projects.

Schedules are set; projects are negotiated without your input. Your tasks are selected for you, and you have little autonomy. Your freedom and creative input will be restricted, and you will have to conform to certain standards. You may work on the biggest film of the year, but you will have to do it in a certain way. And often you can’t change it as much as you would like to.

Can get boring.

Yes, it is exciting. Yes, there are big projects. But it still can get boring. I mean editing footsteps day in and out for weeks gets tedious for everyone and I don’t care how massive the movie or game is. Once your boss assigns you to a certain task, you will have a little freedom and flexibility. And like everyone else you will start watching the clock and wishing it was Friday already.

On the bright side, you must keep learning and developing your skills so you can be assigned to more interesting and exciting parts of the job.

Ok, that’s it. I hope that now you have a much better understanding what are the differences between these two choices, independent and full time. Some people prefer steady job and paycheck; others can’t imagine sitting in the same room every day. I would advise you to try both. Freelance for a bit but also work for someone too. It will give you a clear idea of it, and you will learn how do you prefer to work.

I know people who work full time and still freelance on weekends so you can still do both! Remember don’t think about it in black and white categories. I’ve done freelance; I was in full-time employment.

Try to shake it up once a while, as there is nothing like a change.

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