A year ago, I was downhearted about my employment prospects. Just out of college, without any real professional experience, I despaired of finding a job that would pay enough for me to live on. I had tried all of the usual ways to find employment - contacts through my college, employment websites, even temp agencies - but no one was hiring.
This was in the heart of the new American depression, and the only way I could make ends meet was to be self-employed doing whatever short term work I could find. I edited books freelance, tutored students of all ages, taught ESL classes, and even posed for some pin-up photos! Besides the stress of never knowing when I would have regular work, I was exhausted from constantly finding new clients and getting to all of my various gigs. This was in addition to sending out resumes and trying to get interviews, which I never stopped doing.
Video games, which I had always loved, gained a new importance. They let me escape from the stress, and gave me a sense of accomplishment that I was lacking in my professional life. I started fantasizing about making my own video game. Writing is a passion of mine, and I noticed that the quality of the writing (dialogue, scenarios, world-building) really impacted how much I enjoyed a game. So I came up with the story for a game - a branching decision tree "romance" game, where you could end up with various female characters depending on your actions. Every day, I'd try to do some work on it, whether it was writing some dialogue, drawing one of the still images I was using to illustrate the story, or talking someone into doing some voice acting.
My pet project didn't get very far, but for the best of reasons: it got me noticed for an entry level job in video games, which I have thrown myself into with all the enthusiasm I once reserved for my own game. At a certain point, I realized that my little hobby video game might make a really great portfolio piece. The coding was nothing to brag about, but I didn't want to be a coder anyway; I wanted to prove that I could write for video games.
I was talking about my independent game at a party, when someone happened to overhear and say, "Wow, you really must love video games - I have a friend whose company is looking for a Community Manager." That led to the interview where I was able to show off my writing samples, my forum moderation from my online collaborative writing days, and my partially finished game. When I heard that the Community Manager job would involve a lot of writing, I was sold. I now work full-time at a job I love, and paying my bills is blissfully easy.
Here's what I learned about landing your dream job. If you want to work in video games, never miss a chance to show your enthusiasm for the industry, because you never know who might be listening. If you're unemployed, make the most of the opportunity to add to your portfolio or flesh out your resume. Think about what you want to do in connection to the industry, and find a way to showcase your talents in that area. And finally, never give up. Even if you despair, even if you fail again and again, you never know how much your life might change overnight.
- Lucy Song,
(Grateful to be) Community Manager for Dragon Oath