Yay for people!

The ETC is super fun (I promise it is, if you were on my mailing list you’d be up to date with its awesomeness) but there are still rough spots going on in my life. Today I’m going to talk about some AWESOME PEOPLE at the ETC.

First is Jesse Schell, my professor for Building Virtual Worlds. He is a no-nonsense, straightforward, bluntly honest sort of person who gives harsh but helpful critique. He was Creative Director at Disney Imagineering VR for a good while before deciding to move back to Pittsburgh to raise a family and start his own game company, so one is always assured that his critiques are backed up by a wealth of knowledge.

The ETC is very profession-focused, and we had a class about resumes and salary negotiations and general job-hunting in the industry. One of the big things they hammered in is that people want to see that you know what you want to do. None of this “I could be a modeler or a texture artist or an animator or a programmer or a producer…”, they want FOCUS. This was somewhat distressing to me, because I really am ambiguous about what I want to do career-wise, and I have the talent to be able to do many different things. It’s a big obstacle for me, and I can get really down and distraught and flustered about it.

So I went to Jesse for guidance (having gone to him for guidance prior about other things and having had success), and of course he first asks me “Well, what *do* you want to do?” And of course I sobbed “I don’t knoooow!” feeling down because whenever I bring this up, EVERYONE asks me that, as if it’s some magical question that will trick myself into knowing exactly what I want to be when I grow up. But Jesse reassured me that it this was a big tough issue to contend with, gently scolded me to not use uncertainty as an excuse to remain ambiguous, and then told me that generally, once you take the first step to figuring this out, the rest tends to roll out pretty quickly. I nodded, disheartened, because I’d heard similar things before when asking people for advice.

But then Jesse did something AMAZING. He said “and this is what your first step is going to be…” and gave me an assignment. “Make a list of 10 jobs that if you had them, it would be the most awesome and fantastic and fun job ever, even if those jobs don’t actually exist.” He took it a step further by saying “and email me that list by tomorrow.”

I was somewhat fascinated. People have given me advice lots of times on how to figure out what I want to do in life, but this was the first time someone actually showed willingness to sit down and work with me on figuring it out in a tangible, meaningful way. Plus, Jesse is a busy man, so it made me feel quite warm that he was showing such willingness to help me.

I did my assignment as instructed, drawing my own conclusions from the list that I might be more interested in Location Based Entertainment than I am in games or animation. Jesse agreed, and said “but it’s interesting how many nurturing jobs you listed (referring to the exact numbers in the list), you should talk to so-and-so, she’s an associate producer at Walt Disney Imagineering. I’m going to arrange an introduction.”

And sure enough, the next day, the Imagineer dropped me an email, and I’ve been conversing with her about producing in LBE and what all it entails. It has been very reassuring about the thought of producing, and extremely helpful (not to mention a good contact).

But Jesse still didn’t leave me there, at the slightly-less ambiguous phase. “Assignment 2,” he said, “is to figure out which of these things on your list are actually achievable, and rearrange them in order of preference.” I did this thing, and more and more, producing in LBE bubbled to the surface of the list.

I discussed it with Jesse and he agreed, offering me a few last instructions of “I would focus all your lasers in getting an internship in LBE this summer, and try to go to this conference, and this conference, and this conference…”

The thing is, I don’t think Jesse would necessarily be this way with everyone in giving advice. I feel like he keenly picked up that thing I really need is SPECIFIC guidance, not ambiguous advice, and honed in on that. It has made me both extremely grateful and extremely impressed with Jesse, and very comfortable with going to him for guidance. I’m one of those people who thrives on having a mentor, and I believe I’ve found a good one for this point in my life, even if he is slightly terrifying and has laser beams for eyes. Hooray for Jesse!

I was gonna talk about other people too, but that was really long, so I’ll leave you with that for today 🙂