Transitioning from school to work

Categories Mentorship

Hi. I’m the guy pictured here, which for me is a pretty awesome accomplishment. #humblebrags

A wise being once said: “with great power comes great responsibility”.

I guess if you’re the face of a careers page on a grad school website, you should ascribe to that saying. So here I am, trying to act both powerfully and responsibly.

I think in general I’m known (or at least would like to be known) as someone who is gregarious, honest, and helpful. Obviously I’d make a terrible professor, but that’s still what I want to do in many years down the line, after I stop worrying about money so much and stop being lazy and get my PhD.

In short — I like helping people, and I like being recognized as a helpful person. I love mentoring and talking to people about what they’re passionate about and sharing my own experiences with people as well. Simply put, I love teaching. I love listening to life stories. I had the most amazing time of my life being a Resident Advisor my last two years in undergrad @ UCSD. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, and it’s what life is all about — no matter how cliche that sounds.

So, in this post, I’m mostly addressing UMSI (my alma mater), but I really want to speak to all the students out there that happened upon this post somehow. I was one of you no less than 2 years ago at the time of this post. Now, I’m making a lot money doing what I’m insanely passionate about. I know how crazy it sounds but I know exactly how you’re feeling right now — nervous, anxious, worried, excited — all normal feelings, and all valid (and there are probably many more of them).

When you’re in school, the professional world is just so esoteric and so… unreachable. That’s maybe too strong of a word, but I’m sure you get what I mean, since you’re feeling it. You listen to guest speakers with perked ears, you scour the internet for any kinds of insights and tips into “what it’s like” at your favorite company, you’re on LinkedIn and Glassdoor 24 hrs a day… trust me, I’ve been there. But to what end? What do you need to do to get hired at your favorite place? What will you actually be doing day to day at work? How can you assuage your fears? How can you feel like you’re in control of your future and you have no need to worry? The simplest answer, actually, is to care less. That takes practice, so let’s break it down in more detail.

Big Idea #1: You require more vespene gas confidence.

When I applied to Blizzard as an intern in 2011, I had every intention of getting a call back. I planned what I would say in an interview — everything from projects I’ve done at school to specific things I disliked in Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty from a UX design perspective. I was confident. I was ready. I was prepared. No one really told me what to prepare, I just did it. Teachers and positive influencers can pretty much set you up for success, but your confidence is what will take you the extra mile in achieving whatever you want. For example, I didn’t even think about the fact that I wouldn’t get a call back. This is the first step in changing the way you act and think. I don’t want to promote positive thinking, and I think the law of attraction is kind of bullshit, to be honest. I believe in the power of confidence — believing in yourself. It’s really that simple. Try it sometime.

“Fake it ’till you make it” is a totally real thing as well. Try it in small doses. The next time you see someone you’re attracted to, try asking for their name. Give them yours. Obviously this is a completely different situation where it’s all about consent and wanting to be talked to, but my point stands — don’t be afraid of being rejected. The worst thing that could happen by just striking up a completely platonic and non-threatening conversation is that the person asks you to leave them alone and you’re where you started, before you even talked to them.

That’s how you should view applying to jobs.

Don’t worry about “not getting job x” or “what will happen if you don’t get job x” — worry about doing your best, and once you’ve done your best, don’t worry about things out of your control. I promise your brain will thank you for it.

How many internships have you applied to “in hopes” of getting a callback? How many jobs? Instead of hoping, you should be acting proactively. You should be doing more than hoping. Which leads me to…

Big Idea #2: Persistence and assertiveness is key.

When you interview somewhere, thank your interviewer(s) for their time. Send them a friendly LinkedIn message and ask to connect. At the end of an interview, ask if there are any unanswered concerns you can address before the conversation officially ends. Do everything you can to clear the air and walk the fine line between persistence and being an annoying little shit that employers don’t want to deal with. This comes through practice.

Asserting yourself requires positive body language. Face people you’re talking to. Try to make eye contact as often as possible (don’t forget to blink, ’cause that’s fucking creepy). Don’t end your sentences on an upward inflection. Studies have shown that this sucks and you are bad.

Big Idea #3: You have to network. Period.

I have 980 folks on my LinkedIn, and I’ve no intention of slowing down. Every single time you talk to a: recruiter, person in a related industry, person at a competing company, person at your company, people at your school, WHOMEVER — you should be thinking strategically. “Is this a person that can be my ally in the future?” or “If I want to work at company X, can this person help me get hired at company X?” what about… “If I leave company X, will this person help me get to company Y?”

Allies are super important. Especially in the gaming industry. Here’s how you network:

  • Don’t be an asshole.
  • Find interesting people who can tell you about their interesting lives.
  • Listen. Don’t always be thinking about what you want to say next. Fucking listen.

Big Idea #4: Know your companies

This should go without saying, but I’m always surprised at the number of folks I interview for KIXEYE jobs who haven’t even downloaded our latest iOS game.

If you don’t do any research on my company, you’re instantly a “no” in my head. I’m sure many other interviewers feel the same way. Want to work at Google as a UX designer? You better have a whole list of things you feel are a bad user experience and how you would propose changing them (and why).

Every company will also probably ask you… “Why [our company]?” Actually, this is probably later in your career, but you should be prepared for this question anyways. Know what you want to say to the representatives of the company in order to make a lasting impression. Prepare.

Good luck on your internship/job hunting folks, and let me know if I can help in any respect. If you read this all the way through and got something out of it or want to see more, please share! I’d be happy to write more all the time if people enjoy what I have to give. Thanks!

farivar [at] omid.gg

 

 

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