Getting Your First Job After Graduation: Advice from Our Grads

By: Rachel Handel

June 16, 2016

Once the excitement of graduation wears off, many grads are faced with the reality of job searching, résumé updating, and interviews. What can you do to stand out from other job applicants? And how can you leverage your creativity to make a strong impression in an interview?

We spoke with graduates of The Art Institutes system of schools to get tips on how to prepare for interviews and present yourself well to a potential employer. David Magnia earned an Associate of Applied Science in Video Production from The Art Institute of Dallas in 1998 (as of 2012, a campus of South University). Marlon Munoz a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Effects & Motion Graphics from Miami International University of Art & Design in 2008.

Be Respectful and Humble

Magnia suggests that grads find a mentor with industry experience who can help you to put together a strong presentation. It’s also important to do your homework and understand the company that you’re interviewing with. “Get a list of standard interview questions and practice, practice, practice your answers.”

“Dress to impress, have a polished portfolio, be enthusiastic, know where you want to be in five years, and finally, be humble,” says Magnia. Recent graduates shouldn’t expect to jump into a high level job—everyone has to do their time and earn their position.

“Finally, send a thank you email or card to the hiring manager. A simple thank you can go a long way. Probably one of the most important things you can do is to show that you want the job. Email or call the hiring manager and let them know you are serious about working for them. Be careful though, you don’t want to be a bother to them, so there is a balance. Hiring managers want to know that you have the drive to pursue your career.”

Bring A Strong Portfolio of Work with You

“Examples of work speak volumes to a prospective employer but be selective and brief. It is important to put your best work at the beginning of your portfolio presentation,” adds Magnia. “Don’t expect that your entire portfolio will get viewed.”

Munoz agrees, “Feature what you specialize in. Keep it clean because less is more.” And when presenting your work, be confident—but keep the bravado in check.

“Don’t overdo it. Be confident and honest.”

Tailor Your Résumé to the Position

In the competitive creative marketplace, showcasing your particular skill set can be the difference between an interview and a “thanks, but no thanks” letter. “In the film and video industry, employers are looking for people who can manage their customer and team member relationships well. Showing that you value collaboration is key on your résumé,” says Magnia.

Munoz mentions that grads looking for a job in animation should highlight the software that they know how to use. “It seems like C4D is the trending software for motion graphics because it integrates smoothly with After Effects. Maya/Houdini is what most studios are leaning towards for film.”

Perhaps one of the most important things to do is to keep the stress level down. Life after graduation is busy and the pressure to find a job can feel overwhelming. Taking freelance work or volunteering can help to fill the gap between graduation and your first day of work.

Then when you do get an interview, you can show that you’re continuing to work and grow as a creative artist.

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By: Rachel Handel

June 16, 2016

alumni graduation