By: Jennifer Baguss

For animation students, getting that ‘magic business card’ from employers was as simple as volunteering at the Ottawa International Animation Festival from Sept. 19-23.

The animation program offers students the unique chance to rub elbows with big wigs directly from their desired fields at the festival. They are given free passes to the event, all for the small price of volunteering for a few days.

Noelle Nagy, a third-year student who worked at the Algonquin College booth in the National Arts Centre was very excited at the potential job opportunities the festival could drum up for her and her classmates.

“It appeals directly to our job market,” she said.

The Algonquin booth at the NAC featured portfolios from past and current students as well as a television screen showcasing some of the program’s brightest.

“We’re really trying to get people excited about the program with this booth,” Nagy said.

Throughout the day Nagy and program co-ordinator Tom Crook could be seen speaking with many different people answering questions regarding the program as well as general animation questions. Crook is a big fan of the festival for its ability to aid students in getting their dream jobs. He said the festival offers free workshops and gives students, “a chance to network with industry people like Disney and Pixar.”

To obtain a pass to enter all of the workshops the students were required to volunteer within the festival, from helping out at the venue, to picking up the out-of-towners at the airport and driving them to their hotels.

Crook said the opportunity to volunteer is important for students because it gives them a chance to get “that magic business card.”

Mackenzie Drevniok, a first-year animation student did just that. He volunteered for two days in order to get his free pass and in those days he got a lot of business cards and met a lot of interesting people.

“I met someone from India who does children’s books,” Drevniok said. “I’ve always been interested in releasing a children’s book so it was great to meet someone who does that.”

Drevniok was very impressed with the program’s work with the festival, and its ability to help students find jobs afterwards.

“[Animation studios] are always very busy, so they’re always looking for options when hiring,” he said.
Drevniok also applauds the festival on its ability to bring face-to-face contact into the picture for these students rather than communicating over less personal means.

“Social media is a great tool for networking these days, but talking one on one [at the festival] is better,” he said.