How to get an internship at Pixar

Pixar discusses details of its studio internship programme, revealing some top tips for a successful application.

Pixar team members Tricia Green (senior recruiter), Maxwell Planck (supervising TD, Global Technology) and Saschka Unseld (camera and staging) held an informative session at FMX 2011 last week discussing various ways of getting a foot in the door at the industry-leading animation studio.

“I came at Pixar from a very technical angle, I’m a computer science nerd,” says Planck. “But the cool thing about Pixar is whether you are a technical computer scientist guy or you come in and you’re an artist who uses a computer, you are treated the same."

Paid intern & resident opportunities

Pixar offers a wide range of avenues to explore when applying for positions.

The studio operates both technical director and animations internships which run at various points throughout the year. The TD programs are for either three or six months and offered all year round. They focus on a wide range of disciplines within the company for people to develop their skills.

Pixar also runs a TD residents program which is a one-year course for recent graduates. In any of these positions, applicants are paid, and work alongside Pixar TDs on their current films.

The studio announced that they will be looking for TDs in Jan 2012 and these positions will be posted on the Pixar website in August and September this year.

The animation internship is slightly different in that it typically runs during the summer months of June, July and August, lasting 12 weeks. In a running theme of recruitment this year, the deadline for this program has passed but there are still possible spots available, so well worth applying.

For more information, visit the Pixar application page.

Undergraduate programme

The Pixar undergraduate programme is a 10-week classroom-based internship, which is ideal for students who are in their first or second year of study.

All interns are provided with housing and transportation to and from Pixar HQ in Emeryville, California at the start and end of their program. This also applies to any applicant offered a job at Pixar, although permanent employees are not provided with housing.

Tips and tricks for everyone!

Pixar offers the following advice when applying:

  • When applying to a film/animation company, tailor your CV accordingly – they only want to see information relevant to their industry
  • Keep CV to one page, especially students. “It’s all about presenting yourself: short, sweet, best,” says Planck
  • Make sure your cover letter is addressed to the right place – if not, it shows lack of attention to detail
  • Don’t send in boring template cover letters. Tell them what excites and inspires you about Pixar. Put in a funny paragraph or poem – something that they will remember and that reflects your personality
  • Keep your showreel below four minutes
  • When applying for TD positions, don’t worry about music
  • Don’t show unapproved work
  • Put your best work first and provide breakdowns.
  • Label your reel and the case
  • Show the reel to others first and get feedback on what can be improved
  • Make sure it works on a standard DVD player – not just a computer

For more information and to view a list of current vacancies, visit the Pixar website.