“I always look forward to learning something new everyday! And I feel like this happens on a daily basis here. Being part of the training team really allows you to have eyes on everything.”
Jessica Graham joined DNEG Montreal as a Training Assistant in March 2021 and moved up to a Training Coordinator role last April. As one of the first faces our new hires see during the onboarding processes, Jessica’s calm and welcoming demeanour is appreciated by all. Read on to learn more about her journey to the VFX training team, her (very relatable!) proudest moments since joining DNEG, and what she loves most about coming to work each day.
Hi Jessica! Can you tell us about what brought you into the world of VFX?
Yes! So there’s a bit of a story here. I was starting CEGEP* (part of Quebec’s education system; functions somewhat like a junior college) without a clue in the world about what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I had a friend who was working at a different studio at the time and just hearing about his day-to-day in VFX, it sounded really enticing to me. The downside was that the CEGEP I was attending didn’t have any kind of animation or VFX courses so I went into Media Arts and Graphic Design. While I enjoyed it, it felt like something was missing. So after working in that space for a couple of years, I went through a period of time managing a boutique – which was totally different – before deciding to go back to school for FX and animation for cinema and television. I realized quickly that this was more my pace!
In finding DNEG specifically, I had actually gone to school with Jess Williams, our Training Coordinator for DNEG Animation, and after she was hired as a Training Assistant, DNEG was looking to hire an additional person for the same role. She sent me the posting and I was immediately interested. She referred me and after multiple nerve wracking interviews, I got the offer and here I am!
What is your day-to-day like as a Training Coordinator?
As a Training Coordinator, I’m responsible for coordinating with the help of the assistants our weekly onboarding process. Organising the training calendars, zoom calls and creation/editing of content. I also support the Global training team with their tasks by coordinating with them and other departments on training requests.
What do you like the most about your job?
That’s an easy one – it’s the people! Not only is my team amazing but everyone across the company is just such a pleasure to work with as well. There are so many creative minds here at DNEG.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Be very open-minded. There’s so much going on in the world of visual effects and a lot to discover. You might think that your heart is set on one aspect but if you’re open to exploring other parts of the industry, you might surprise yourself. I originally wanted to be an Environment artist but I’ve since realized that I really enjoy being part of the training team and it is where I’m meant to be.
Time for some rapid fire questions – What’s one thing that is always on your desk when you work?
Definitely a coffee cup! My cat Milo is also often on my desk – he likes to make cameos during Zoom calls.
What’s your ‘special power’ at work?
I hope it’s making people feel supported! I always want to provide comfort and calm to our new hires during their first few days as this can be a very stressful time.
What are you most looking forward to every day?
I always look forward to learning something new everyday! And I feel like this happens on a daily basis here. Being part of the training team really allows you to have eyes on everything and there’s so many interesting things happening in each department.
How did you feel on your first day at DNEG?
Very excited but also super nervous! Starting a new position and a new job from home was a whole new experience for me so that added to the nervousness as well.
What are your proudest moments to date?
There’ve been a few! Definitely getting hired for the role initially and then promoted was pretty exciting and a big deal for me. And then coming into the role, because it was new, there wasn’t really a clear structure of what we were going to be doing and how we were going to do it. I was very worried when I first learned that I would be presenting to big groups of people each week. Even though I’m not shy – I’m a very outgoing person – there’s something about public speaking that makes me very nervous. I doubted myself and my ability to do this job overall but after a month of presenting to a group of 40 or so people every Monday morning, I was really able to build that confidence and break away from that fear. It was a very proud moment for me.
What is your happiest moment so far?
My happiest moment was attending DNEG Vancouver’s holiday party last year! After starting the job virtually, I hadn’t had the chance to meet many of my colleagues in person and because I was visiting family in BC for Christmas, I was able to make it for the party and get to meet many of my team members in person for the first time. It was so fun.
Finish this sentence: DNEG is…
Such an inspiring, creative and dynamic team and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it.
To find out about Training and Career Development at DNEG, click here. And if you are interested in joining DNEG’s Oscar-winning team, stay tuned for our next ‘FOCUS’ and click here to find out more about our open positions across our studios in North America, Europe and India.