Career advice in the themed entertainment industry

Those of us in the themed entertainment industry receive many employment enquiries from those still at school, those seeking placement during university courses, job seekers, freelancers and so on.

These notes are written to try and answer some of the many questions we get asked so often, and which we sadly don’t have time to individually reply to in detail.

For those in education 

What should I study?

There is no specific educational route which can be taken to lead to a career in our industry. Almost all of us have started out somewhere else and gravitated over time into the world of theme and adventure parks, museums, zoos, aquariums, heritage centres and so on.

What we have is an intense love for what we do and a passion which keeps us going through the very long hours and often with very little money. Don’t join this industry to make your fortune.

Within parks themselves, there are opportunities in general management, marketing, engineering, catering and so on.  Start by doing holiday jobs at your local park or visitor attraction.

Most creative jobs are in specialist suppliers to the industry.  You can find most of the best creative companies in the world at www.teaconnect.org (and you can join as a student for just €35 a year) 

At school

Almost every art and science subject has a real value. Work hard at the subjects that you find most interesting. Concentrate on your best traditional academic subjects – English, history, modern languages, art and design, maths, physics, chemistry, biology. Leave sociology to others.

At university

Again, follow what interests you but make sure you study a proper subject – try to avoid the lightweight soft options.  If you are creative, build a good portfolio. Employers want to see what you can do and what you’ve done. Our industry is essentially a craft based industry, so show what you’ve designed, invented, built, created and produced, and include things you’ve done outside college. For example, if you study fine art, you will be expected to produce abstract work which is of no interest to our industry, so make sure you also build a portfolio of life drawings and other representational work. College work you have to do; an interviewer hopes to see work you want to do.

For those seeking permanent jobs, internships or work experience

Farmer Attraction Development Ltd. is a virtual company that builds teams to carry out specific projects. It’s a little like the film industry, where in days gone by there were big studios employing all the people needed to make a movie – actors, musicians, technicians, scenic artists, lighting and sound engineers and so on. These days, people are brought together to produce a film as a stand-alone project, and when the film is done everyone leaves and starts looking out for the next one.

We operate the same way, and consequently we do not employ permanent staff and are unable to offer permanent jobs, internships or work experience.

For work experience or an internship

We suggest you get in touch with your local theme park for a seasonal job – every park takes on temporary staff for the summer. Be a sponge, absorb everything you see. Many of the world’s top attraction operators and designers started in the summer holidays as costume characters and ride operators at major theme parks.

We regret we cannot give further career advice.

For freelancers

From time to time we use freelancers. If you want to be included in our freelance register for possible future work, e-mail a resume to details@farmer.co.uk with portfolio examples as a PDF document. Don’t expect to be called if you just refer us to your web-site, we don’t have time to trawl through websites looking for the skills we need.

Freelancers we have used in the recent past include illustrators (hand illustration), voice-over artists, musicians, composers, graphic designers, lighting designers, scenic painters, prop makers, carpenters, electricians, builders, and site managers. And for video work we occasionally use actors, lighting cameramen, sound engineers and make-up artists.

Of particular interest right now are freelance graphic designers who are into theme parks, and also with a sense of the macabre for Halloween and scary stuff.

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