And I’m using that term very loosely…
My friend, HikaruRose made a post earlier today about what it takes to really work in the gaming industry. Apparently there’s this girl who created a poorly animated “music video” saying why she wants to work at Valve. While I’m fairly sure it’s a joke, I’ve yet to find where she openly states that this was just done for fun and that she really doesn’t do the things she lists in the video. Because she doesn’t openly declare it as a joke, I’m inclined to believe that she’s serious (especially when she states it right there). But this does bring up a rather serious topic about pursing a job in the entertainment industry.
Firstly…why am I putting this on a blog geared towards fandoms? Because many people in fandoms wish to pursue a career that will cater towards that fandom. Many anime fans want to be animators, mangaka/comic artists or writers, or voice actors. Many furries also wish to be animators or illustrators (not all but a decent amount of the artists do). I’m an animation major myself and while the only thing I’ve applied for are internships, a lot of what I say is either going to be from what I’ve learned from my professors who are professionals and have worked in the industry, what I’ve learned from my current internship at an animation studio, and from plain old common sense. Secondly…let me preface this by saying I’m pretty sure this video is a joke. I would really hope that there isn’t a person out there who actually thinks that this is a good way to ask for a job. I’m writing this really because sadly it was made and no one can really tell if it’s a joke or not because she never says it’s a joke. Like I stated above, she actually claims that this is supposed to be taken seriously and a few of the comments on YouTube are taking it rather seriously too (just a few but still a few too many).
Here’s a link to HikaruRose’s post with her thoughts on the subject: So you want to work at Valve?
And the video itself for reference:
With that out of the way let’s go through the top 10 things wrong with this video…
10. The presentation.
Creating a portfolio is key in getting any job in the entertainment industry. Whether you’re planning on being a animator, an illustrator/concept artist, character designer, actor, voice actor, or anything else in advertisement, film, television, etc., you’re going to need to prove that you can do what the job requires you to do. She’s asking for a job at Valve which is a 3D gaming company and what does she do for a presentation? A poorly Flash animated music video. She doesn’t display any knowledge of gaming or of how to create games. She doesn’t display any skills in 3D animation or character design. She doesn’t display a reason that Valve should ever hire her. If you’re going to apply for a job or even an internship, look at what the companies do, look at what they require their employees to know, and prove to them through a portfolio or demo reel that you can do the things that they would require you to do.
I will say this though, it is a creative approach to making a demo reel and so it would actually stand out among other applicants. The problem is that is doesn’t showcase the abilities needed to work at a gaming company. The only reference to gaming in the video is references to actual games that Valve has made which makes this look like a piece of fan art rather than a serious way to ask for a job. As fan art, it’s very adorable. As a honest way to get your foot in the door, it needs a lot (and I mean a lot) of work.
9. Telling the people you want to work for what to do.
In the first couple of seconds of her song you hear about how she applied for a job at Valve 3 times (which is what makes me 99.99% that this is just a joke…because who the deuce uses a carrier pigeon for anything anymore?), and why she wants them to take this seriously as an application. She wants an answer back from them because she hasn’t gotten one back before. As a job applicant, you don’t have the upper hand. You can’t call the shots. If they have a position open, that’s when a company looks through applications. If there’s no position open, why are they going to be in contact with you? It’s a job’s job to announce when they have open positions just as it’s an applicant’s job to keep watch for open positions in the company they wish to work for. Also, if they don’t like your application or if they don’t believe you’re the right person for the job, they reserve every right not to call you back. They don’t need to tell you you don’t have the job. Their silence on the issue can be answer enough. You can always apply again when you feel your skills are up to par, but if not, it’s not the end of the world. There’s other gaming companies out there other than Valve. There’s other animation studios out there other than Disney. They’re not all big names, but it’s a start and something to put on the resume. For a first job, it’s going to be rare that you’d get a top position at a first rate company or studio right out of the gate. That’s just unrealistic. Start small and work your way up. Be humble about what you get and don’t order your bosses around. You should be fine.
8. Pestering them.
I actually have a little bit of first hand knowledge of this from the animation studio I work at. You see, there’s some boy/man that keeps calling the studio asking to work on Alpha and Omega 2. There might not even be a sequel to Alpha and Omega, but this person keeps calling them. At first everyone was being nice with him. They just told him that he should check for job openings or send a demo reel. Eventually this guy kept calling and calling them. Not every day but maybe every other week or so. He wasn’t getting the hint. While they’re still professional with him when he calls, the truth of the matter is they’re only professional because they have to be. The truth is they just want to tell him to stop calling them.
Companies hate it when you pester them. They’re busy trying to put out products for the public and they don’t have time to be bothered with obsessive fans trying to work for them just because they want to work for them. You might have a good sequel idea for a movie or a good idea for a game that a company might be able to put out. That’s great. But they’re not going to listen to it right off the bat. They’ve got their own movies/games/shows/etc. that they’re working on at the moment. Sometimes they’re working on more than one thing at the same time. They’ve got deadlines to meet and other companies to please. It would be rare for them to take time out of their busy schedule to read a piece of fan fiction or check a piece of fan art someone sends in as “proof” that they’ve got good ideas for the company/studio. Again, this is another case of needing to work from the bottom up. Start slow and maybe somewhere along the line you can get your concepts out there. Rarely will that happen right off the bat.
Okay, to be fair on her website it says she works for Apple and she states the major she has and which college she graduated from. But all she says here is that she draws and she writes. Clearly from the presentation, you can see she animates and sings as well. That’s fine and dandy, but previous job experience? What else have you done in the animation field? Or outside the animation field? What experience in 3D do you have if any? And if not, what do you have that you can offer the company? Concept art? Character design? Resume goes hand in hand with a portfolio/demo reel. She has a few things up on here site but anything regarding gaming? 3D work? Nope. If she’s aiming for something other than concept art, I don’t think she has anything to show off those skills.
6. The “potential” card.
Now just saying you have potential isn’t inherently a bad thing. It really isn’t. It’s good to have potential and in fact everyone has potential for something. Whether it’s what you dreamed of or something you never could have conceived, everyone has potential. But in order for someone to bank on whatever potential you may have, they have to be shown that they can in fact rely on you. This whole concept of people just taking some poor soul from the streets and giving them a chance, while that’s a one in a million chance that could happen in real life, we’ve been taught that stuff like that happens all the time. It doesn’t. And usually when it does, it’s because the lucky person chosen showed that they had an inkling of ability. You know…like the team of people that worked on the Portal games. They were students, they created a student project as a thesis, guy who runs Valve (owns it…runs it…? I’m not sure) loved their work and their idea so much that he hired them. He didn’t hire them because they begged or said they had potential. He hired them because they proved they had potential and he saw it. So with potential, prove that you have it. Don’t just say you do.
Okay…this really has nothing to do with applying for a job or anything. This is really just about the concept of destiny. Just because you believe you were meant to do something doesn’t automatically make it so. Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try. But think of the people who try out for American Idol. There’s one person I remember seeing during the audition phases that was convinced that she was supposed to be a singer. Her mother told her that she was meant to be a singer. But when she went to sing, her voice was terrible and she wasn’t given a ticket to Hollywood. And she was honestly upset and shocked by this because she was told all her life that she could sing and this was her destiny. Destiny’s a tricky thing but we all like to believe in it. We all secretly want to know that we’re here for some reason and we’re not some accident. The problem with the idea of destiny is that you can get it into your head that this is the only career path that you’re supposed to have and this is the only thing you’ll ever pursue and you won’t think of the alternatives. Or rather you’ll think of them…you just won’t allow for them because you’re so fixated on this concept of “fate” or “destiny”.
4. Slightly distasteful jokes.
Now if there’s a second good thing I could say about this video other than the creative approach to a (sort of) demo reel is that there’s some clever gaming humor in there. Like the Left 4 Dead jokes and the one about the companion cube. But right in the middle, there’s a rather distasteful joke in there regarding doing…something…with an octopus. While it’s not explicitly said, you know exactly what she’s talking about. Humor is good. Humor when done well can make you stand out. Don’t rely on adult humor though. For some companies you probably could. Like if you wanted to work on South Park or Family Guy. Those are shows that solely rely on potty humor, societal commentary, and adult humor. But as a part of a portfolio, it’s better to hold back on humor like that. I’d say that this joke was slightly subtle. But to be on the safe side, it probably isn’t something that you’d want to show to future employers unless they’re Matt Stone, Trey Parker, or Seth MacFarlane. And even then you should still probably hold back a little and show off your skills and not how raunchy you can be. Again…in here it’s a subtle joke, but to be on the safe side (you never know who you might offend), it’s better to leave stuff like that out.
I can’t be the only one that feels how desperate she is to get a job with Valve. Every other line is something like “Please hire me” or “It’s my destiny”. Acting desperate is not a good thing. You’re not going to do yourself any good by showing off how desperate you are. Let your personality and most importantly your work speak for itself. If you don’t get the job or internship, try again later or try again somewhere else. You don’t have to go for the big fish right off the bat and you can still find a smaller place to be just as good. When you come across as desperate though, you’re just pushing potential employers away from you. They don’t want to deal with someone who’s desperate. They don’t need to. They need someone who’s confident.
2. Skill level.
Okay, I’m not a gamer. But I am familiar with the look and feel of Valve games like Portal. Not fully realistic, but very nice textures, very detailed environments, and fluid animation. Yes, skill level is something that’s important. While you most definitely don’t have to be a master at what you do (and who the heck is?), you do have to show that you have some basic skills. Basic knowledge of anatomy, movement, design, texturing, modeling, rigging…whatever the task entails. A simple, barely animated flash animation is good enough for YouTube fame. But for trying to prove that you have what it takes to work at their company, it’s not enough. Especially because Valve doesn’t specialize in flash animations.
1. Overzealous fangirl-ism.
Yes. This video had overzealous fangirl written all over it. Because that’s the way it was presented. She’s a fan who wants to work for Valve. Many of the jokes are centered around her playing games. She’s playing to the fact that she’s a gamer girl. Not the fact that she’s a person who wants to truely pursue a career in creating video games. No company wants to hire a fangirl or fanboy. Companies/Studios want competent employees who are confident in their skills, know what they’re doing, and have something unique to bring to the table. While it seems she can offer humor to the table, Valve already knows of writers who can write humorous material (just listen to some of GLaDOS’ dialogue). Her overzealous-ness is truly shown off when she claims that she’ll do anything to work there. Including janitorial work. Who really wants to do janitorial work? And why do janitorial work at Valve? Just to say you work there? That makes no sense. There is nothing wrong with being a janitor, but it seems desperate and very fangirl-like to say that you’d be willing to do menial labor just so you can say you work at X company/studio. We all have our dream places that we’d love to work at. But don’t be a fangirl or fanboy about it.
And that concludes my list. Now, I’m quite certain that this video is a joke and in fact I would rather believe that it is than believe that it is an actual plea for work. So I don’t believe I’m aiming this list solely at her. What appals me more than the video itself is the number of people sticking up for her and believing this is a viable way to try and get a job. This list is aimed towards those who really see this as a good way to get a job.
But what do you think? Is the video for real? Is it a joke? Do you think that the way she presented this video is a decent way to ask/apply for a job?