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22.11.17 + Perspectives

Navigating a First (Remote) Job

Junior Designer + Animator Krysta Coates on what it’s like to start your first job remotely plus some tips for young designers

What made you decide to pursue a career in animation?

I didn’t grow up super artistic or creative – I wasn’t the person in your class who you knew would be an artist – I didn’t think I was born with that gene. But I had great teachers and supporters in my life who made me realize that creativity could be taught and learned, if I put the work in.

This gave me the confidence to enroll in art classes in high school, then later to apply to art school (Savannah College of Art and Design, SCAD). I went to a technical high school that allowed students to choose their focus area, so I learned the basics of graphic design, a foundation to explore other types of design.

What activities or pursuits in college made the most impact in jump starting your career?

When I first arrived at SCAD, they were introducing their clubs and activities to all freshman students. I was immediately drawn to MOMELove, a student-run organization focused on the motion media industry. I was super involved in what I was doing and felt embraced by the community. I went to every single club meeting and helped run CoMotion, the student-led motion graphics conference that brings in around 50 companies – including Trollbäck– to participate in portfolio reviews, panel discussions. Meeting other people, friends and employers all happened through CoMotion.

What advice would you give young designers about finding and choosing internships?

I got my first internship by putting myself out there. I was chatting to another student and genuinely curious about an internship she had done. She offered to put me in touch with the company. I did have a portfolio – that is important – but what’s more important for young designers is to be excited and curious about what the people around you are working on. That is just as important as the quality of work.

What has been the biggest shift in going from a school environment to a working environment?

It’s hard to simulate the collaboration that happens professionally. In school, you have personal projects – sometimes you collaborate with other artists – but it’s not to the same degree as when you begin working. When you’re working on school projects, you are the producer, animator, designer, and the creative director, and you save your files however you want!  At the office, you have a specific role, a systemized way to organize work in folders, and you have to communicate where you are in a project.

The pacing of things is also different from what you imagined or the way things are in school. There are sometimes long pauses in projects for example, and you might not know how to deal with that! This happens a lot in our industry. The waiting period that happens, after sending something to a client, can be intimidating and hard to navigate.  In that time, my advice is to find something productive to do. When there is free time in between things, it can bring some self doubt.

You started at Trollbäck remotely. What was it like to have your first job out of college be remote?

You need to put in extra effort to reach out to people and communicate properly. Though we’re so used to digital communication, it’s still easy to make a typo or misinterpret messages you receive. Since you don’t have the opportunity to walk up to someone at their desk, tools like screen sharing are super useful.

One of the most important things I learned is to get over the fear of asking for help. It can be intimidating to see your history of messages – you see you just asked for help on something, and you’re asking for help again – this is something that’s not documented if you were asking in person. But don’t let that fear get to you. It can be isolating going into your first work experience remotely, especially for young designers.  It’s easy to second guess yourself and not feel confident in what you’re creating.

What has been one of the most exciting projects you’ve had so far?

My first project was on Betterment, and it was a great introduction to the team. I loved how the rebrand turned out, it was cool to see the full process and what initial ideas rippled out to the end.

Whenever you’re starting a first job, you’re always a little unsure. But the team was so welcoming from the start. That made me feel more comfortable when it came to speaking up, voicing my opinion and brainstorming during meetings. It never felt like my ideas were disregarded. This gave me a boost of confidence and made me more excited to contribute.

In school, we’re prepped to believe that to be part of a team, we have to work our way up. You’re almost prepared to not do cool things or have a voice. But T+CO has such a collaborative spirit that you feel like you’re making an imprint and can claim ownership of something.

Who/what gives you inspiration?

One huge influence of mine is Yaniv Fridman, his work encompasses everything I love. Otherwise, I am inspired by everyone I work with.

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