Past Choices, Present Consequences



The WINZ job hunt meet-up was different than I expected. I was led to believe I would have to present evidence of my hunt & hope I did enough for them to be sated, but they didn’t even ask about our results. Instead it’s more of a job hunt workshop, which is pleasantly surprising. I think it’s a new programme in association with WINZ geared towards people in my age bracket.

But there’s something that made me think about my future beyond the current ‘getting any job I can’ thing. In my group of six, half of us were IT graduates. As one of them said whilst explaining his situation, the problem is IT is a fast paced industry. You’re expected to go straight into an internship when you graduate, except in NZ pretty much all of them are in Auckland (I hate Auckland).

I can support his claim. At least half of all NZ graduate IT job adverts I’ve seen are based in Auckland, & virtually every single ad has this line: “must be a recent graduate or junior _”. I’m still just a graduate, & I’m definitely not recent. So this has made me wonder, yet again, have I screwed myself just because I wanted to take a break from IT?

This is a look at my choices pertaining tertiary study & after graduation (prepare for a long read).

The reason I studied IT is obvious – I want to make games, but I was also told that the only way to get a job was with a qualification (I took this literally at the time). Back then I had no idea what the job landscape would be like. All I knew was that it’s harder to get into games than standard IT jobs. A qualification is better than nothing right.

My two choices were Otago University or Polytechnic; I didn’t even consider other institutes. Both featured the chance to make games but in different ways. The Uni only had a four week holiday course where you just made a game, whereas the Polytech had a second year paper – “Games Programming: C++” & the possibility of doing a game for your final year. I’d also been told that Uni is more theoretical whereas Polytech is more practical. Both institutions were willing to take me in, but Polytech was the obvious choice.

The first half of my course seemed reasonable. But by the time I was in the midst of Games Programming the workload became intense (that didn’t stop me from wanting to kick ass at Games Programming though šŸ™‚ ). I managed to get through that; feeling tired & getting an idea of what the final year would be like.

As I went through my course, I found that several of my papers, while interesting & better for getting an IT job, weren’t things I imagined myself wanting to do for a career. I wanted to do more creative things. I don’t want to do databases, websites, networks, or even programming for the sake of programming – my only real interest in IT is games (actually that’s wrong. I really enjoyed CHI since it was quite design oriented).

Before I started my third year, my brother suggested I learn more about the game industry by reading articles online. Through that I found out about the rise of indie games. People outside of major studios were making their own games, some without having any qualifications. This, the increased workload of second year & a wish for something more creative, made me consider dropping out, but I pressed on (I was too far in to back out now).

Having said all this, my course taught me a lot of important things I’ll need for future projects. I don’t consider doing the course a waste of time, I just wish I had this awareness sooner.

I believe I’ve said the next part in a previous post, but I’ll say it here anyway.

For the final year of the BIT at Otago Polytechnic all students must do a year long project. This typically is the most gruelling part of the whole course, & in my case I had it worse than most students. Groups are typically made up of three students, but mine comprised two. Our group project was a sex education game geared towards children, which made things harder than normal, especially since the scope was way too much for us. It was awesome having a game as a project, but games are always more intensive than other software. We also had to get consent with an ethics committee (whose head just retired) on the worst ethical combination: children & sex. Lastly, my partner, whilst contributing about 40% during the initial planning stage, ended up only contributing about 1% to actual development. I never had to go through this thick of a shit storm in my life.

Despite all this, I was able to pass with 89% (an A- grade) & deliver a decent “beta” game. But the whole thing burned me out. Throughout the three years I studied, I barely saw my friends, especially during the second half of study. I was in a darker head space. I probably only allowed myself a single week off back then, excluding the end of year holidays. So when I was finished, I really needed a fucking break.

About two months after graduation I moved out of my parents place & started flatting for the first time. My parents had been telling me that they were selling the house & moving to Te Anau in early 2014, but I’d been so engrossed in my workload that I never gave any consideration for anything outside of it (I had to back then, it was the only way to survive it). Finding a flat wasn’t difficult, & it seems I was really lucky with my job hunt. My night-fill job started a month after I started flatting.

At the time, I didn’t know what to do (in some ways I still don’t know). I just wanted to settle & take my well deserved break. I just wanted a year off before trying for an IT job & experience flatting. I’d been away from my friends for so long I felt I needed to be with them while I still can. I didn’t expect the window into IT to be so small. I didn’t anticipate that I would forget much of what I was taught in Polytech.

I’m still wondering if it’s even worth going for an IT job. If IT jobs demand the same workload I went through in my final year, for each year I work it, then fuck it – I don’t want any part of it. I would just suffer & have no chance to do what I truly want to do. It’s not a life I want to live.

At the same time it’s the most practical choice I have. It’s the one that would likely get me out of Dunedin & onto the next stage of my life. I can’t stay where I am else things will become worse than the above.

Delay & decay, or go forward & hope IT doesn’t consume me. Perhaps that’s why I stay, & hope my own projects forge a new path for myself.

Thank you for reaching the end, you deserve a cookie. I swear I’ve made this kind of post before. Sorry if a lot of this is familiar to you.


2 thoughts on “Past Choices, Present Consequences

  1. Ow, I feel with you, my story is a little different, since I went the graphical path of education, but craving to do the technical part also (which i never felt confident enough to do by myself) so for years I had to live with the fact that I’m not as “good” as some other students, that everything seems to be so much more work for me than for others or atleast that was what I thought…In overall I seemed to have always some disadvantages from being socially not so adaptive and versatile or in other words, I had to deal with being an “awkward” person *sighs*
    Also, not being able to do exactly what I want instead of graphics design, advertisements etc. was feeling like it throw me back regarding becoming and indie developer šŸ˜®

    I think what it could need though, to get out of that situation is taking a brave step, follow what you feel is right, even if all kinds of voices are telling you that you are crazy šŸ™‚
    It helped me alot, so maybe it helps you too šŸ™‚

    • Damn, I can relate to the feeling of being disadvantaged (a few of them seem to be majorly impacting my job hunt right now šŸ˜› ). At least you’re taking steps to learn more technical stuff. I did actually consider doing “communication design” instead of IT since “graphics” was one of my favourite classes from high school. IT won out though since I was like ‘yay, I get to make a game’.

      I’m honestly not exactly sure what brave step to take. I’ve just been trying to do the first step of getting a job. Doing projects of my own seems to be the only, slow, alternative at the moment.

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