“If you’re really passionate, opportunity and success will come”
rom Vivid Sydney to Hollywood movies and commercial TV, VET graduate Sebastian Barkoczy’s creative career is thriving.
It’s a bright autumn morning in suburban Sydney and Sebastian Barkoczy is putting a drone camera through its paces. The designer, TV presenter and VET graduate is filming for Get Clever, a Channel 7 show that encourages kids to explore and enjoy science.
For the episode, Sebastian has created a drone obstacle course complete with a blower vac, liquid nitrogen and sliced up pool noodles. “We’re using everyday items to test the scientific factors that enable a drone to fly,” explains the 34-year-old, who also works on Channel 7’s companion program, Get Arty. “It’s all about exploring technology through art, and inspiring kids.”
VET opens doors to opportunity
‘TV presenter’ was never a job Sebastian expected to include on his CV. After high school, he spent three years overseas, working odd jobs to “just keep the travelling going”. Back home in Sydney, he fell into hospitality and retail, but, “I had no direction, no goals—I was just working to pay my bills.”
At 24, he decided to see if he could turn his love of building and making things into a career. He enrolled in a Certificate III in Design Fundamentals, then went on to complete an Advanced Diploma of Live Production, Theatre and Events.
“VET changed my life 100%,” he says. “It gave me direction, confidence, skills. Being a bit older, I was really ready to commit and I saw it as an opportunity.”
Since graduating in 2016, Sebastian has featured in the Vivid Sydney festival, worked on live events and music videos, and built sets and props for television and film, including Hollywood blockbusters Alien: Covenant and Pacific Rim: Uprising.
VET delivers the skills to succeed
Sebastian believes a key benefit of VET is how ‘real’ it is. “You learn what it takes to work under pressure with a team of people with varying skills, abilities and work ethic,” he says. “The teachers are all industry aligned and the learning and the facilities, it’s very similar to the real world.”
“Everyone in the industry wants a VET graduate,” he continues. “It’s their ability to walk onto a job site and know how to use the tools, know what’s expected. It’s a great transition into professional life.”
Self-employed, Sebastian works across a range of projects and contracts (at the moment he’s juggling the Channel 7 gig with another converting an inner city warehouse into a lush Buddhist temple-inspired bar). He relies on industry contacts and word of mouth to get his next job. “So far, that’s been my experience of the creative industry,” he says. “You’re as good as your last job and it’s all who you know.”
Navigating the gig economy
For anyone working in the ‘gig economy’, passion is important. As is resilience. “It can be difficult and uncertain, and financially it can be really hard,” says Sebastian. “I think you’ve just got to be really proactive—you’ve got to work hard in every job, leave a good impression—and I think more work will come.”
Of course, the ‘unknown’ is also part of the appeal. “You never know where you’re going to be in the next week or next few months,” says Sebastian. “There’s an element of spontaneity to the creative industries, which is part of the excitement.”