One bit of advice I would give an animator starting out is the same advice that one of my mentors, Gleen McQueen (from Pixar), gave me.
(Paraphrasing) “Get out there and get work… anywhere. Get your foot in the door any way you can – it’s much easier to work your way to where you want to be from within the studio than from the outside. Don’t be overly particular about where you are working when you’re first starting. Any experience is good experience.”
There is pretty much nothing in life that you can’t study and put your observations and experiences to good use in animation. It’s really quite a renaissance art; you need to be constantly observing life in general to create great stories and characters, and you never know when you’ll find an amazing story in any experience. So even if you can’t get work as an animator initially, use whatever you DO end up doing in the meantime to build up your arsenal of skills! If you’re working at a physical job, like landscaping or something like that, just imagine all of the great observations you’ll be able to make about body mechanics, lifting heavy objects, and even just paying attention to what your own body is doing as you are working. If you are working in an office, pay attention to the different personalities and dynamics at play. Watch people interact with each other, pay attention to nuances of body language, the differences in the way individuals stand, walk, gesture. It’s a totally different way of “seeing.” And all of the experiences you have, whether in an animation studio or somewhere else, can be used to make you a better animator.
The other bit of advice I would give is PERSISTENCE. Just because you don’t get accepted to the first batch of studios you apply to does not mean you should give up and find something else to do. It means you keep working on your skills, adding new shots to your reel, getting rid of old work, and send those reels back out again! Studios will keep files on you, and watch your progress. And don’t think that they won’t notice your enthusiasm either.