I tangented on this briefly last week, but from what I've experienced and seen for most studio jobs, your artistic skill is not the most important thing for getting you the job. Sure, if you can't paint/draw/compose/design you may not last long, but that's not the biggest thing you need to get in the door.
I've worked at several studios and in all cases, it was who I knew that got me in the door.
Let me say again: I knew someone who worked at every studio job I have ever landed. I have rarely gotten a call-back, much less a job, from any studio where I didn't know anyone in the department I was applying for.
I can't stress this enough - you have to meet people. You have to build a friend-base that extends to the places you want to work. Not "Networking", or "contacts", or "people I've exchanged business cards with," but FRIENDS. People who want to work with you. People who trust you to get your stuff done. People who know you have their back. The average artist at a studio cares more about how cool you are to go to lunch with than how well you can render a super-killer-robot.
Also - I am fortunate enough to be friends with some people who are much further along in their artist careers than I am. Those people have NEVER gotten me a job. They work at a different level of the studio system than I do. It's sweet to know them, I get good advice on my paintings from them, but they aren't the magic cure-all for finding work. You don't need to know famous people, so you can relax about that.
The ideal friend to find in a studio is someone just "above" your level. Someone who knows what you do, knows what you're going through, has a realistic understanding of the differences in breaking in to the industry today than 15 years ago, and can put a good word in for you with HR.
If you are still in school, MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE PEOPLE AHEAD OF YOU IN YOUR PROGRAM. When you come out in 1-3 years, they'll be working, and in a position to tell you when the studio is hiring, and maybe look over your art test before you send it in. Those artists aren't "scary pros" who are too busy to take every noob artist under their wing. Those people have a connection with you already from school, and are way more likely to help you.
If you aren't in school, or didn't go, same thing applies. Don't go hunting Disney Visdev artists as a means of getting work. Find someone who you respect who's just a bit ahead of you. Ask them for advice. Cultivate THAT friendship. It's not the name recognition that will get you work, it's being honest and true friends with people at your level or a bit higher...the faceless studio workers who are responsible for 99% of the stuff you see anyway.
On Thursday, I'll talk about how to meet these people in more depth, and how to help others as a way to help yourself.
Thanks for reading, as always, let me know if you agree or disagree, and please share if you liked this! Your shares go a long way to helping me reach new people (and make new friends, but I'm getting ahead of myself.)