Career Coach: Declaration of Independence by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, Creative Career Coach

Franklin, Adams and Jefferson write and rewrite the Declaration of Independence by Leon Gerome Ferris 1900
Franklin, Adams and Jefferson write and rewrite the Declaration of Independence by Leon Gerome Ferris 1900

You don’t need to be American to celebrate Independence Day. In the new job market, Pamela Kleibrink Thompson explains why we should all declare our independence.

In July, people in the United States celebrate Independence Day. This year, declare your independence and stay that way.

A New Way of Thinking

First, think independently. You are not an employee. You are a vendor of specific skills. You are hired by a company for as long as that company requires those skills. When your skill set no longer meets the needs of that company, your employment there will end. That is the nature of the business.

Recognize there is no such thing as job security, especially in the broadcast and animation industry. One veteran states his life is much like that of a migrant worker and that one should be ready to move on to another company at any moment. To do this, one must have transferable skills that the companies want.

Stay up to date on what the company needs and make sure you have the skills they look for in new hires. Whether you specialize in broadcast graphics, broadcast engineering, video editing or virtual reality, invest in yourself. Take whatever classes/seminars you need in computer graphics or broadcast to make yourself more valuable to your employer and to future ones.

Once You’re In

Most jobs are project based. This means you are hired as the company needs you. If you are hired for a specific project, don’t think of yourself as a staff employee, even if the project lasts for many months. You may be hired to work on consecutive projects, but you are still a project hire.

Since you will have many jobs in your career, be a positive, hard-working team player people will want to work with again. Maintain a great attitude and give every job your best, no matter how brief. And remember, your current job may end, but the same employer will hire you again if your work is of high quality and your approach is professional.

Keep your marketing materials up to date (resume, portfolio, demo reel and breakdown sheet). Network all the time, even when you are employed. The best time to find your next job is when you are still in a job.

The Long Haul

When considering job opportunities, remember in the long run, what you learn is more important than what you earn. The more skills you have, the more employable and valuable you are. At a small company you may have the opportunity to learn many aspects of the business. At a large company you have an opportunity to make many more contacts. Keep in touch with those you work with when they leave the company. These former co-workers may give you a tip to your next job.

When you land your dream job, don’t go out immediately and buy that dream car or dream house. Even if you have a staff job, you probably should view yourself as a freelancer. Maintain at least 6 months of expenses in a savings account to help you weather any layoffs, hiatuses or down time.

Once you declare your independence and strive to maintain it, no one will wield undue power or influence over your financial well being again. Don’t allow someone to hold you hostage financially. If you dread going to work, it’s time to network and get that next job.

The days of retiring from a long career at a single studio are gone. It’s important for you to take an entrepreneurial approach to your career. Recognize that you are in business for yourself. That requires hard work to maintain good relationships with clients and to market yourself to potential new clients. Accept independence as a way of life. Prepare for down times, enjoy the good times and welcome the freedom that this provides.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, Career Coach for broadcast, animation and visual effects
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, Career Coach for broadcast, animation and visual effects

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is uniquely qualified as a career coach, independent recruiter and management consultant. She frequently speaks about careers at colleges and universities. You can reach her at

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is an internationally-acclaimed recruiter, career coach and animation veteran (production manager on The Simpsons, ink and paint supervisor on Paramount's animated feature Bebe's Kids.) Pamela is a popular speaker at colleges, film festivals and entertainment industry conferences around the world.She has presented courses at SIGGRAPH in San Diego, Boston, and Los Angeles; was the commencement speaker at Art Institute of Tampa, and taught the Career Realities course at Gnomon School of Visual Effects.Pamela was named one of the Top Ten Recruiters by Animation Magazine and has worked with clients around the world such as Disney Feature Animation, Technicolor in Beijing, Framestore in London, and Lucas Animation in Singapore.She has written for over 80 publications including Computer Graphics, Animation Magazine, U.S. Art, Media History Digest, Apple Directions, Art Business News, Idaho Arts Quarterly, and Animation World Network.
Pamela Thompson
Broadcast Beat - Production Industry Resource