Over the past few months, we’ve been focussing on careers and industry advice, hoping to inspire people and inform on different career journeys. We’ve been sharing profiles of our brilliant colleagues in the talent department, diving into their journeys into the creative industries and how you can kickstart yours. Next up is Lesley McDonald, Talent Acquisition Specialist.
My own story…
I work in the talent team at Axis as a Talent Acquisition Specialist. I predominantly work sourcing new artists to join our teams whilst also reviewing new applications that come through & taking initial calls to discuss suitability & what that person is looking for before the final stages with the Heads of Departments.
We have a few Specialists who work across different departments, so I cover & specialise within Animation, Layout/Previs, Rigging and CFX at the moment, however over my time with Axis I have hired across most departments. I work closely with the Heads of Departments and crew team to ensure we are crewing up on the next projects on time and have the best team possible for the upcoming projects!
I never set out to work in recruitment I followed opportunities and what I enjoy and found a career within an industry that I am really happy with. I studied photography and worked in various roles in fashion & then software recruitment over seven years living in the middle east and San Francisco. When I moved home to Scotland to be closer to family and saw Axis was hiring I thought it would be the perfect fit. 4.5 years on and I am still loving working at Axis, no two days are quite the same and speaking to artists all over the world on a daily basis is always a highlight. When it comes to placing someone in their dream role after going through all the hiring stages it is gratifying to have been a part of that journey and see them flourish within the studio!
Goals at Axis
My goal is to ensure any candidate interviewing with me feels at ease to ask as many questions as they like and stay motivated through the process. If a candidate is mid or senior level and has a lot of demonstrated experience depending on the project they may be more likely to be selected that time round, but I always tell junior candidates even if they are unsuccessful the first time to keep sending in their new personal/professional work when they have it and they see us advertising. You never know when you will show something within your reel or portfolio that's perfect for a project we are working on.
It's also important when reapplying to keep your reel with all your best work only, if you're submitting new material try and ensure you include your strongest work and remove anything older as your skills develop.
I think most of the seniors/leads in this industry will have experienced being knocked back a few times when trying to pursue their goals, but I would say I believe we are incredibly lucky to work in such a supportive environment where there is a great understanding with juniors that join our teams that they may need extra support. We take care to ensure juniors joining the team have enough leads/ seniors across that project for when they may need help with something, and are conscious of taking on juniors that we feel are ready for that next step.
Words of wisdom
My words of wisdom to everyone are similar to Sanchari’s: don’t give up! It can understandably be demotivating when you are trying to take those first steps into the industry and may be knocked back initially...But I would say 90%+ of the studio have experienced this on some level whilst trying to make their way into the industry initially, so we have all been there too.
It is also never too late to make a change and decide this is what you want to do! We have many seniors, leads and even Heads of Departments that came from different backgrounds who don’t have an animation degree. Instead, they may have worked on personal projects whilst in other careers earlier on. If you are passionate, driven and willing to work hard on developing your skills you will get your first foot in the door when the time is right! It may not happen right away, but as cliche as it sounds: all things worth doing take time. As I had mentioned previously, also make sure you send in your most recent & strongest work when reapplying. We will constantly be reviewing new work, so you never know when something you have been working on is perfect for what we are looking for!
Brilliant for beginners
I think the diversity of projects we work on as a studio first and foremost make it a great place for artists in the starting stages of their career to develop their skills. Working on keyframe stylized projects and then having the very realistic mocap work we do across long and short formats make it a great place for artists willing and eager to learn new skills. We also have a great team (although I may be somewhat biased)! I have been with Axis for over four years and have seen so many entry-level candidates come in and really develop and grow within their departments over the years, so I think that room for growth and development within the studio is a wonderful and encouraging benefit.
If you’re feeling inspired, be sure to check out our careers and opportunities. Whether you wish to submit a speculative application or fancy going for a more specific position such as our new openings across an unannounced animated Marvel series, we have something for everyone!