Updated: Jan 6
In addition to the fact that it gives you work experience!
Since my spreading the word about the "Dreams and Nightmares" video game volunteer project, many people have been skeptical about this volunteer work I've been talking so much about. Some say it's a perfectly valid option while others say that it's a waste of time. Some have tried to paint the straw-man that volunteer groups don't believe artists' work are worth paying for. What a straw-man.
So to answer these questions (that 'professional' artists like you should already know)...
How many years in the games industry do you have?
He doesn't get it. I'm trying to get that experience as someone who is just stepping out of school. I am a recent Full Sail University graduate in 2019 in the Bachelor's of Science Game Art Degree Program. I've only got a few months of volunteer experience, so far. This includes schooling. Scoff all you wish. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Eventually, I would like to get hired on a paid job making assets for games. And most game companies (all I've seen so far) want someone with at least 2 years of real work experience in the field.
But I don't have that experience yet. So now I'm up against a wall. How can I get it if no one will hire me based on my lack of work experience? What can I do to get that experience? What are my options?
It can get pretty frustrating many a time. How does this work, exactly? Because experience is a part of showing an employer that you have what it takes for the job. But I don't have experience because they won't hire me. And if you don't have it, you are less likely to get hired. As a matter of fact, your chances are extremely slim.
So what am I going to do now? Explore my options. And to my luck, I found out about a volunteer group of game creators called the "Christian Game Developers Community": A volunteer Christian Game Developers group with a vision, a group of game programmers, developers, and artists who got together to make video games that reflect Biblical values.
And my step towards breaking into the game industry is working with a team of artists on a volunteer project.
How many games have you worked on?
Two. One was a school project with a group called "Team Reliant" for a practice project called "Torn Souls". I worked on the Golem, Piston, wagon, 2D cave background, and train tracks. You can check it all out on my Artstation page.
The second game I have worked on is a game called "Dreams and Nightmares" with the Christian Game Developers Community. and the other is a real game project that will be published. Here is the progress on this project so far.
How do you make a living off of working for free? Can you eat exposure?
What kind of question is this? No. Of course not. As artists, we all need something to fall back on, especially when we are first starting out. And that often requires us to work jobs that are not necessarily in our field to make the living we need (even sometimes jobs that we don't like) to get to our desired goal. You have to do what you have to do until the door opens for you to be hired in your desired field. That's life. You can't just expect employers to hire you on that job position that you want, right off; with no work experience. Young adults who are either going into college or fresh out of college seem to have this mindset. But that simply isn't the reality of the business world. That is one thing I had to learn, and those are the honest and hard-hitting facts. Life is hard. Life is full of obstacles to overcome. This is the real world, snowflake. Either learn to live in it or melt.
Can you live under experience?
Yes. When you get that experience which is required for the job that you are applying for.
Job seeking is as much about marketing as it is about learning: if you can't market yourself to an employer well... you most likely end up with no job. It's almost as if having the right skills and the right amount of work experience matters. Imagine that.
So I've got one on the way so far and it has been good. It’s not finished yet. In progress.
((So it's not successful, considering it's self-run and you can't get artists to do your work for you for free. That's not a job. That's called a passion project.))
This is a huge misunderstanding. I don’t recall ever calling my volunteer work a job. I don't recruit people to work for me. This project isn’t run by me. It’s actually a team of game creators with a vision that got together and wanted to make a game. I’m one of the artists working on this project and spreading the word about it.
And, for the record: just because something is 'incomplete' doesn't mean that it won't be (or hasn't been) successful. All success starts somewhere, get it? We often look at success as a destination rather than a journey. Be proud of every step you take towards your goal. So what is the definition of success? Every person's path is different.
Everyone’s path is not going to be the same when it comes to their success or vision.
Again, if you don’t want to do volunteer work, that’s all well & good. But doing volunteer work is a perfectly valid option to gain experience, and I will be listing 5 reasons why.
There will always be those 'inexperienced' people that will scoff at your 'Volunteer Work':
...while complaining that you won't hire them. Be prepared to be gaslighted for sharing your personal experience with others and showing these college-aged kids that you need at least some work experience to be hired by most employers. The cognitive dissidence is at full display here.👇
Because calling someone an 'idiot' to validate your point must mean that you are 'smarter' or 'know more' than someone else who has already been down the road (based on your very limited view of the world)?
For all I know this may be some college-aged kid fresh out of high school who has never actually stepped out and tried to get a real job. So for that, I'll cut this guy some slack. He has a lot to learn.
What an extremely limited bubble you must live in that you don't wish to allow any outside thought to reach you, that you have the audacity to gaslight someone for telling you the honest to God truth about their own experience and what they have learned about the reality of the world.
-Sonya Marlene (you can quote me on that)
In case you didn't know, there isn't a job I am offering to be hired for. I'm just a volunteer artist, as of now; trying to gain work experience. If you want a paid job, go apply for an actual paid job. Go fill out some applications.
How do I get that experience to be hired if they won't hire me?
Get out there and get the connections that you need. You can't get that experience for those jobs you want by complaining about people who won't hire you on Twitter or Reddit. You can't get that experience by sitting around your house all day on social media. You need to go out and earn those relationships, do volunteer work if needs, experience the highs and lows of the medium. Get employed by jobs that may be related to what desired field you are going for. Push yourself towards your career goal.
So sorry no. These businesses and top-quality jobs require experience whether you like it or not. Even if it's your own it's still a business that requires you to know what the heck you're doing.
I'll consider that your assumptions about people's intentions may have caused you to misunderstand the message I was presenting. You are angry because employers won't hire you. And I can only wonder why?
I don't mean to sound like your grandmother, but...
I've been down the road a time or two and I know what I'm talking about!
Many young people seem to think that just because they have a degree in their hands (or can do art) that automatically qualifies them for that top-notch management job. This simply isn't the business world's way of looking at things.
To get that top-notch game job you have to be well educated and have some work experience under your belt: That's right kids. To be a hired professional artist on those high quality jobs you need experience.
Don't like that? Start your own business. Or would you rather spend time on Twitter and Reddit whining about people who are choosing a valid option that is right for them? This attitude of entitlement won't get you anywhere. The world doesn't owe you anything. Work hard. Get that degree. Get that experience the employer is asking for. Get that certification or learn a new skill. An employer doesn't need your stamp of approval to hire you. He decides what the requirements are, not you. He decides whether or not you are hired, not you.
I can only imagine a self-entitled smug and overly confident young artist who is just stepping out into the world, who thinks he knows it all but doesn't have a clue how to get his foot in the door.
How can you expect an employer to hire you over someone else who is more experienced? You might as well call employers, idiots, too. That's the attitude you are portraying, and that sure won't land you a job.
This kid will find out the hard way, in this case.
Why I chose to do volunteer work:
I put in my job hunt. I tweaked my resume. I polished my LinkedIn profile, I did my research on the game companies currently hiring, and even brushed up on my interview skills, my skills I gained from school, my knowledge of the software I needed for those jobs. Yet I found myself hitting a wall.
Every game job I came across wanted at least 2-5 years' worth of work experience, which I did not have. I had no previous work experience except for school projects. How ever was I going to convince employers to hire me?
The moment I found out about an opportunity to participate in a volunteer project, I was excited to become a part of something that I can show employers in the future. Yes, volunteering can have many benefits! And I'll tell you why.
Now, before you scoff at me, saying:
((Either pay the artists or do it yourself. There is no in-between.))
((If you have no money to produce the game to pay professionals to work on it, you'll never have a method to market the work and thus there's no experience there. Please stop pretending that "experience" pays anything to creatives.))
Congrats! You finally have a sound argument against volunteer work. And I see how you are trying to divert from the actual point I made to make another point (by putting up a straw-man). And only to miss the point. And that is: volunteer work is a valid option for work experience.
There is no defined path to employment or success. For all I know these are 25-year-old college kids who may well have found themselves at the right place at the right time, like many of today's child stars. Not being unrealistic here. Just saying not everything can be solved through education or volunteer work, but you'll most likely learn from this thing we call life and your teacher will be you, I know this is pretty deep stuff!
But sure, some adolescent adults, who are highly opinionated; who say that (("volunteer work is a waste of time and you shouldn't do it")) will have all the answers: Please, tell me more about that Million Dollar Game Business you run, Bruh.
These think-tankers who "know it all" and want to think for everyone else will have all the answers, right?
What games have YOU personally participated in? I can show you mine. And I'll happily take your advice if you yourself have been successful in the field. If not, nobody, not even absolute beginners; should take your advice.
To these think-tankers who are just stepping out into the world and believe success is only one defined cut and dry path: It's not a black and white issue. I'll happily take your constructive criticism, but saying that volunteer work is a bad idea is not sound advice.
Volunteer work is not about money. It's about gaining experience.
You try getting a job straight away out of high school with no previous work experience or qualifications and see how well that works out for you.
People can only learn from their own mistakes. Sure, you don't need to do volunteer work to make those mistakes, but for some that are aloof about the future it helps them develop character, and that can benefit those who are unsure of what they want in life. It allows them to explore their dream without barriers such as "Qualifications".
Volunteer opportunities is also something absolute BEGINNERS can do to accomplish something that they can show to future employers who want someone with work experience.
I could only imagine that there are those who are just starting out who are following your advice saying to themselves, "Hey maybe this is some real advice I can take" only to be met with unclear opinions.
All you are doing is discouraging them from choosing volunteer opportunities which is still a valid option for those who are actually seeking out a job that requires a lot of experience.
And for some people that may be the only way they will be able to gain the work experience they need to market themselves to an employer and land themselves that dream job. This is more than just an opportunity to make a difference in the world, but it can also have a major impact on your professional reputation as well.
What are the benefits of volunteer work?
Still scoffing at what I am saying? Well, I'll put the peddle to the metal and let you watch as I become successful. Here are five ways volunteer work has benefitted me, and how it can also benefit you and your future career, written by Kat Boogaard:
1. It Looks Good on Your Resume
Let’s start with the most obvious one first. If there’s one point that you can’t refute, it’s that volunteer work looks great on your resume. After all, when’s the last time you heard someone complain about a person being too helpful and community-minded? Probably never.
I’m sure that the skills listed on your resume are nothing short of impressive. But, when you’re willing to use those competencies to help with a deserving cause—even when there’s really nothing in it for you? That makes you look not only qualified, but conscientious.
2. It Presents an Opportunity to Meet New People
No, networking doesn’t just need to be done on LinkedIn or at a formal networking event. And, it definitely doesn’t need to be forced, uncomfortable, and filled with awkward pauses. So, this is where volunteering comes in. It’s an easy and completely natural way to meet some new connections in your area.
Generally, volunteer opportunities have a pretty friendly, low-pressure environment. This means that you can have genuine, engaging conversations with people who share your interests—without that awkward air of expectations. Chances are, you’ll make more meaningful connections doing this than you ever have around the appetizer table at a networking event.
3. It Helps You Determine Your Career Goals
Donating your time to volunteer is also a great way to gather information and find out a little bit more about what exactly you’re looking for in regards to your career. Perhaps you’ve always worked for a large company and are curious about what life is like with a smaller nonprofit. Or maybe you’re itching to find out a little bit more about what it’s like to work in a startup environment.
Beyond company size, volunteering is also an effective way to discover other important tidbits about how you function. Do you like working independently, or as part of a team? Do you enjoy getting your hands dirty, or do you prefer to do the coordination and administrative tasks? Does working with a certain type of organization make you feel especially inspired and fulfilled?
Volunteering presents a non-threatening opportunity for you to figure all of that stuff out. And, that information is undoubtedly valuable when determining your next career move.
4. It Allows You to Develop and Refine New Skills
You’ve mastered your current position. And while it’s great to feel confident and secure in your job, that doesn’t mean you want to be completely done trying and experiencing new things.
When you volunteer, you can try your hand at tons of different skills and challenges, without any threat to your reputation or current job standing. Whether you’ve always wanted to dip your toes into the world of coding or you’ve been meaning to learn a little bit more about marketing, you should have no trouble finding a volunteer opportunity that allows you to do so.
Plus, I don’t need to tell you that volunteering is also an effective way to polish your teamwork skills—which is a quality that virtually every employer looks for!
5. It Helps You To Become More Confident
An expanded network. Increased knowledge. Improved skills. They all help you to present yourself as a more impressive and well-rounded candidate. And, strolling into an interview feeling qualified and competent? Well, it’s a pretty nice boost to your confidence.
Plus, your experiences also give you a few different talking points to answer some of those common interview questions. Not only can you provide details on your various skills, but you can also share how you applied them in a real-world setting while simultaneously benefitting your community—which makes you look even more amazing.
Yes, volunteering is a great and powerful thing. Not only does it get you off the couch in order to do something positive with your time, but it can also have a pretty huge impact on your career and job search.
So, keep these benefits in mind and get out there and do something! You won’t regret it.
If you want to know what to do with your life: You live it, set goals for yourself and motivate yourself to succeed. Don't just sit there wasting your time listening to those who think they know what you should do. They don't know! They aren't you.
Why not actually spend your time researching the things you will find helpful such as jobs that may interest you, look at the requirements and try to become that person detailed in the job advert and MAYBE you'll get that job of your dreams, discover what your life is worth and find happiness, because sitting here listening to "You shoulds" aren't going to get you anywhere. Just do it! Make your dreams come true.