Knowing When to Start Over

So you landed a corporate job, huh? After the thrill of the steady paycheck wears off, you might start itching for some stimulation outside of the cubicle. Maybe it’s a longterm gig, or maybe it’s just a part-time contract. Either way, it’s a grind and you’ve got to have something to help take your mind off of the stress once you (finally) get home at night. We’re always curious about that space between getting the corporate job, working it and then deciding to leave it for one reason or another. So we asked a recent quiter, Andrea Interguglielmi, to talk about how it went for him. Here he shares details about his year at Dreamworks Animation, the projects that kept him sane, and how he came to the decision to leave the corporate world (and the U.S. altogether) to go back to his home country and do something that felt more true. 

Shaping wooden surfboard

How long did you work for Dreamworks Animation?

I worked there for one year. The contract was meant to be much longer and that was meant to be my dream job, but reality took a different course.

Were you able to maintain personal artistic projects while working full time?

Yes, especially when working in big companies I do feel the need to express myself outside of the work boundaries.

Back when I was at Dreamworks, for example, I started this web comic about the Universe who decides to abandon all his responsibilities and become a surfer, although he realizes that’s not that easy either. It’s weird, but it’s online if anybody is curious: http://tinyurl.com/opo98a8

illustration

How long after you were working there did you start thinking about leaving? 

Big companies can be frightening and exciting at the same time, so since the very beginning I had mixed feelings. The nice and comfy work environment can easily make you forget about your true ambitions, but it wasn’t before the end of my first year that I had to make a decision.

What was your main reason for leaving the corporate animation world?

As any foreigner who leaves his home country for a new job, I had left quite a lot back home. My girlfriend was not able to join me in order to finish her studies, of course my family was still back home too. Dreamworks was letting go a few people because of the economic crisis affecting even the animation industry back then. I was told I was going to keep my job, but since I was not happy with my situation there I thought that it was the right moment to leave and let someone else keep his job instead.

Shaping wooden surfboard

What happened that made you finally take the jump?

I was in California for my dream job at a 1,500+ people company, but while I was there I fell in love with another reality. That of the small craftsmen that everyday get their hands dirty making things that have a more concrete purpose than computer animated movies.

The dream of starting my own small activity while being close to my family gave me enough purpose to leave the comfort zone and make the jump I guess.

Shaping wooden surfboard

What do you do now? 

I am starting my own company of hand made wooden surfboards, Settembre Surf. It’s tough work and it might take a while to really make this a real job, but it’s so refreshing that it’s worth the energies spent so far.

Do you sometimes regret the decision?

I used to surf the best breaks of northern California and was lucky enough to be part of an amazing community of talented people which forms the animated film industry. It’s hard not to miss those things, and not knowing whether I will be given a second chance should I need to go back is scary as hell!

Whatever lies ahead though, I am experiencing what it is like to see friends and strangers surf on something I have made with my own hands. For a person who grew up using computers, that is quite a change and an achievement! That alone is enough to not make me regret the path change so far.

Shaping wooden surfboard

Any advice for people thinking about making the same change?

People might make it really hard on you, reminding you that a secure job is the key to a happy and steady life, that risks lead to high chances of failure. The only advice I feel like giving is that if your guts tell you different, then you probably don’t fall in the same category of those people who gave you the advice in the first place, so don’t listen to them! You are probably after a different kind of happiness altogether, and there’s nothing wrong with that if you ask me.

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