Thesis student Flip Sarta writes about adjusting to a new normal and looks ahead to life after graduation.
March has been a difficult month for all of us. Our lives have been warped and many plans for the future drastically changed. Special events such as graduation, birthdays and holidays put on pause or canceled all together. In times when it has been dark for everyone it has been difficult to find the light. Personally I have been struggling a lot, especially with the uncertainty of it all. I tend to live by a plan and now that it’s gone I haven’t known what to do with myself. This has given me a lot of perspective and made me realize I can’t live by plans only. Being flexible is so valuable, especially right now. I know I haven’t been performing to my usual standards and I know that I haven’t had any drive to make anything.
After being angry about this and about the situation I decided to be kind to myself. I gave myself space for the rest of March to process and adapt. During this time I was able to connect to many of my friends in the SVA community. Whether it be through Animal Crossing, Zoom, D&D, or Jackbox sessions, and just being there for eachother to talk out our feelings. It was a comfort, especially as a senior, that I am able to stay connected to the important people I have met at my time here when we can’t physically be together. I know many of us are going to go all over the country and even the world but this has helped remind me that we are all in it together and only a call (or a zoom) away.
March was for adapting but now it is April. We now have a new normal and have to create new routines (while still being kind to ourselves of course). During these last few weeks of the Spring semester and of my time at SVA, I want to take this opportunity to develop a whole new set of skills. Working as a freelancer is going to be a reality for many of us, whether we’re screenwriters, editors, or visual artists. As many of us know now, working from home can be hard. Not having structure is hard. Not having a “real” schedule is hard. Now, in light of these awful circumstances, is the perfect time to practice and create a freelancer schedule to hold yourself to.
One of the things that I think a lot of us are most fearful of is how do we get jobs and internships now? There isn’t an answer for this yet, because everyone is still figuring it out, but there are some things that will help no matter what the answer will be.
LinkedIn is your friend right now. Make it look real nice, update your resume, website and portfolio now while you can dedicate time to it. Once it is all prettied up, it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to people, especially SVA alumni, for informational chats / zoom meetings. Of course please be conscious of the current situation but it wouldn’t hurt to politely ask for a 15 minutes conversation. I had the pleasure of talking to two alumni, Christian Marsh Reiman (SVA Film) and Luz Batista (SVA Animation). They both imparted some really valuable advice for the future. [Keeping in mind that some of this is advice about moving from NYC to California]
Luz told me that being a student gets you a lotta clout. People look at student projects and will honestly say, “Wow a student did that?!” Use that to your advantage while you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Ask for emails from the careers office at SVA, ask professors to help connect you and reach out on your own. Email recruiters, ask them to review your stuff, answer questions or even for a mock interview. When this pandemic is over it is also a wonderful idea to go to painful networking events and meet people. Christian told me to check out ASEFA, WIA, the Writer’s Guild, the Children’s Media Association and also look up local hotspots for networking in your field.
Luz also told me to know my worth. Mostly people are great, but sometimes people try to take advantage of you. Secure a day rate for yourself and don’t accept anything less than minimum wage – which is still too low. It is also best to get a union job. If you can’t get a union job that is okay BUT look at the union website. The base pay for most positions will be listed there and will give you a better idea of if it is a good position or not.
She also reminded me to keep up on personal work when you do have a job. Make sure you are pulling from a happy place when you are working and not from sadness because when you stop being sad then your work suffers. So work happy.
One more thing I want to mention before I finish this up is be there for your community and don’t be afraid to ask them for help. The SVA community, the community in your ResHall, a club, a class, anything. We are all in this together. We have to build the new normal together so let’s start by being positive and supportive of each other.