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BlogDiversity & Inclusion

Announcing the 2023 ASWF Summer Learning Program!

Our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) working group is proud to announce the 2023 Summer Learning Program (SLP), which enables underrepresented individuals to learn more about technical careers (e.g. R&D Engineer, Pipeline TD, Color Scientist, etc) in visual effects and animation and help them get started through online learning resources. The deadline to apply is April 14, 2023

The Summer Learning Program also aims to develop an individual’s professional network, while creating new entry points into the industry to foster increased representation. Selected participants are matched with an industry professional who will mentor and guide them as they begin to develop the necessary skills for a career in software development. This year’s program also includes guest speakers and panels designed to cover a variety of topics and career paths.

The 2023 Summer Learning Program is available to those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. We are searching for passionate, dedicated individuals interested in expanding their knowledge. An applicant’s current skill level is not important for acceptance; beginners are welcome. We will be selecting 20 participants for the 2023 program.

“Each year we’ve strived to make the program more valuable to our learners,” said Kaitlin Pollock, Lead Department TD at DreamWorks Animation and co-chair of this year’s Summer Learning Program. “Last year, some of our mentors started seeking guest mentors to widen their mentee’s perspective, and I’m really excited that we’re expanding that program this year, while also adding several individual speakers and moderated panels.”

The foundation of the program is self-paced online courses and one-on-one mentoring with an industry professional. Learners accepted into the program will begin together with a quick introduction to Python in Maya. From there, courses will be chosen based on individual interest with guidance from mentors and team leaders. The mentorship element of the program pairs learners and mentors together in an effort to provide insight into the industry as well as advice and encouragement through the program’s courses. 

Karen Ruggles, Associate Professor at DeSales University, as well as founder and chair of the Summer Learner Program, reflected that “it is only natural that we in the ASWF’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group capitalize on ways to make the animation and visual effects industry more diverse. The SLP is an exact reflection of that charge. Each year we grow as a program and see growth in the people completing their summer which is dedicated to them learning from each other, their mentor, and themselves.”

In the past, the Summer Learning Program has run cohorts for Women and Non-Binary (2021), and Black, Indigenous, LatinX, and people of color communities (2022).  

“Each year, we’ve found that our learners have formed lasting connections with their fellow learners, mentors, and the ASWF community. We’re thrilled that multiple learners each year have gone on to further opportunities and even employment in the industry,” said Carol Payne, Imaging Technologist at Netflix and ASWF’s Diversity & Inclusion Working Group co-chair. 

Interested individuals should APPLY HERE by April 14, 2023.  

We are also looking for industry professionals who want to help out in some way, and we have a variety of roles with varying levels of time commitment. Please apply here or reach out to with any questions.