Can Superman and Spiderman get someone’s career off to a flying start?
Visual effects or VFX artist Vinay Thakur, who has helped create some of the magic in fantasy adventure films like Sujoy Ghosh’s Aladin, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Riteish Deshmukh and Rakesh Roshan’s Krrish, is convinced they can.
After clearing his Class 12 exams in Bathinda in Punjab, Thakur was desperately looking for a direction in life when friends suggested that he go for a design and animation course because of his fondness for the DC and Marvel comics’ superheroes.
He moved to Chandigarh and completed a professional diploma in animation and VFX (visual effects using computer-generated imagery) at animation institute Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC ). That led to his first job and soon he found himself in Mumbai, working on Bollywood films as compositor (integrating 3D objects and live action to create a single scene).
Most young millennials and Generation Z professionals today are following their hearts, stumbling on careers while exploring their passions. Once they are clear about what they want, they pursue jobs doggedly, not bothered about the number of interviews they have to give, the second part of the Hindustan Times Education and MaRS Monitoring and Research Systems survey on Efficacy of Education reveals.
Connecting with 1,680 young professionals aged between 21 to 27, employed for three years or less, the study indicates that 79% respondents do not attach much importance to career counselling. More women (26%) than men, however, feel the need for some sort of guidance as do 23% employees in the age group of 21 to 23.
Today professionals do not attach much importance to career counselling, training
Achal Khanna, CEO of HR professional group, The Society for Human Resource Management India (SHRM) feels that to understand Gen Z’ers, people born in the mid-1990s, just stepping into their first jobs, it is important to know that the work they do is as important as the reputation of the company and the salary. They strive for differentiation through education, reputation, brands and technology, and especially money, she says.
Training too is not an intrinsic part of 63% respondents’ career plans, a majority (75%) of them from Chennai.
But, as some sectors require trained staff, 48% of the respondents from digital advertising and digital media, 46% in social media and 41% in digital entertainment and media say they opted for training before employment.
On the importance of training, Thakur, with no prior painting or sketching skills, says he had to learn “everything from scratch.” VFX artists have to have extensive knowledge of the human anatomy, 3D modelling, lighting, texturing, animation and compositing.
Keen to start earning a salary, young professionals say they don’t feel disheartened if they are rejected by more than one company. Based on the number of interviews the respondents appear for, Kolkatans struggle a little with 3.2 interviews while Mumbaikars on an average have 2.9 interactions with hirers.
For Tanseer Ahmed M Banglewale, working as an animator at New Zealand-based Weta Digital, the first interview of his career was a disaster. “I obviously did not hear from them,” he laughs. The next few potential employers did not want him either, but determined to get a foothold in an organisation, he made a demo reel of his work and showed it to the department head at animation studio Rhythm and Hues. “He refused to believe I had made it — that made me feel even more proud of my work,” says Banglewale.
He was “scooped up by the company and in two months was working on a huge Hollywood project. From there I moved to DreamWorks (Animation) and then Industrial Light and Magic and am now with Weta Digital,” he says.
Before settling in their current jobs, the respondents say they make it a point to check out three to four industries. Digital entertainment and media generates the maximum interest (49%) followed by e-commerce (37%), social media (37%) and modern retail (31%).
Vishal Mehra, senior vice-president at IT education and training organisation Aptech and head of Team ICAP (Industry Connects, Alliances and Placements) says he has seen demand for design and VFX experts increase every year. “Though there have been job losses in the IT sector, the demand for digital media and entertainment professionals is tremendous.”
Refusing to disclose names, Mehra says he has “just now been tapped by a big industry player for 80 to 100 graphic designers”.
Their skills are in great demand but “we do not have enough people qualified to do it,” he adds. Demand for even basic rotoscopy (animation technique which requires work, frame by frame, to trace over motion picture footage) skills can “guarantee kids at least four job offers”.
On what organisations expect from Generation Z today, Khanna says candidates are now required to be domain agnostic, possessing the ability to work across systems. Firms are also seeking professionals with a good academic background and sound technical knowledge.
Thirty-seven per cent of those surveyed expressed interest in e-commerce and social media, with 45% Hyderabad residents opting for social media and 42% for e-commerce.
Not surprisingly, younger professionals are very sure of their professions.
Ninety six per cent working for digital entertainment and media like their jobs and say if they have other options, 33% will want to work in social media and 22% in television.
Both Thakur, now working with Technicolor India in Bengaluru, and Banglewala, derive tremendous satisfaction from their jobs. “My first project (Golden Compass) as an animator won an Oscar for VFX. We were ecstatic. It was a win against the Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” says the latter.
To other youngsters looking for jobs now, Thakur has this advice: “Work hard, don’t expect early success and learn the process – understand that the work you do in life will lift you up, not the money.”