Helen Argo is Senior Producer at Aardman Animations. As one of the biggest brands in the creative industries, their award-winning work produces a unique combination of independent film alongside broadcast and advertising spots. The studio has had ten Oscar® nominations, and has won four. Helen kindly shared with us her personal career journey and her top tips for those considering a future in the creative sector.
Starting out on Reception
I started my career at Aardman Animations working on reception. The opportunity arose from my University friend who was a Runner there at the time. We were both Art degree graduates and knew we wanted to work in a creative environment but didn’t know what our future jobs would be.
Working as the Receptionist gave me an invaluable insight into the company as I quickly got to know all my other colleagues and became familiar with the structure of the company. The reception job is very important as you are usually the first person visitors meet and you perform an essential communication role. It is important to make a good impression and to be organised, calm and friendly at all times.
I knew this wouldn’t be my long-term role, but the time allowed me to think about the direction of my career. Aardman have always been supportive of their employees and try to help develop careers within the company so I gradually moved up into the production office and my friend became a prop maker and set dresser.
The importance of relevant work experience
If I was to offer some new employee advice it would be to gain as much work experience as possible within your chosen field. Sometimes the fit doesn’t seem right, and that’s OK; you’ll know when you find a company you want to be a part of. Seek out as many opportunities as possible and keep your CV up to date. When looking at job applications and CV’s it is the experience relevant to the role that I look out for most.
Skills for the creative sector
When gaining work experience, whether it’s one day, a week or a few months, always be helpful, quick and show initiative.
Whenever I recruit anyone new, I look for someone who is keen to learn and is not afraid to ask questions. I need to see the job applicant is proactive and is able to fit in to an existing team. It’s very important to act in a professional manner at all times and respect the fact that you’re part of a working environment.
Being able to demonstrate commitment and enthusiasm on paper and in person should impress a potential employer. And if you are working in a company that requires close teamwork then you must be a good team-player to succeed.
There are many roles working within a creative-led company
Some roles demand less creative energy than others – for example: administrative roles in HR, Finance, Technical and IT support. These are all essential parts of the company, but are more support roles to the main purpose of the overall business.
If you are highly creative and want to work within any well-established company, you must be prepared to work hard and work well with others. The collaboration required to succeed in a creative studio cannot be understated.
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