Whether you’re starting your first junior role or a seasoned veteran of the game development industry, strolling into a new studio, putting your best foot forward when integrating with a new team can always hold its challenges. When to ask questions, making good impressions and displaying your best work; these are all things you’ll be considering when joining a new studio.
Whatever questions you’ve got, fear not, we at Aardvark Swift have got the answers to soothe those nerves. We’ll break this down into the first day, week and month – helping you every step of the way in what will be an exciting new chapter in your career!
Your first day – you’ve got the job, that’s the difficult bit out the way
Smooth operator – stay calm!
Nerves are to be expected, but remaining clear-headed will allow you to take in all you need to know throughout your induction, make you seem more personable to your new colleagues, and allow you to produce your best work all the quicker.
What’s the game plan?
Every studio is different and you can never really know what to expect; entering through those doors for the first time will be filled with anticipation, and amidst this, going in with a rough idea of what you feel you need to learn or achieve will keep you grounded and on track. “Go in with an idea of what you would like to learn in the first week, month and quarter, whether that’s finding out what each team does and who you will likely be interacting with the most or getting everything you need from a systems and IT perspective” says Senior Global Brand Manager Carly Drew from 505 Games.
Hands in your pockets? Make yourself useful!
Your first day might be filled with a lot of admin and paperwork, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take initiative and lend a helping hand if the opportunity arises, advises Lead Artist Gonzalo Canepa, from Airship Images. “Be helpful! If you see someone struggling with something, or you feel that you can help in any way, just go and offer help, it’s always going to be welcomed.”
Be Kind, Rewind.
Gonzalo also mentions the importance of going in with the right attitude and mentality to integrate with your new co-workers as quickly as possible: “Be positive at your work environment. This is always going to get people close to you, and generate a nice working environment.” Carry forward the same enthusiasm and positivity you displayed in the interviews that got you the job initially, and you will find your feet in no time.
Your first week – learning the ropes and settling in
In too deep?
In the creative industries, more than any other, the work you produce can feel like a reflection of yourself and can easily become intertwined with one’s own self-worth. With all the great work going on around you, you might feel a little out of your depth. So with that being said, remember: no one will expect you to produce your best work right away. It’s going to take time for you to truly integrate into new pipelines, roles and dynamics, and your new team will accommodate for this while you settle in.
It’s inevitable. Like it or not, you’re going to have to ask a lot of questions at the beginning of your new studio journey; and your first week is going to take a lot of them. Your colleagues will expect this too, so don’t feel like a burden – it’s better to ask than to get it wrong, says Airship’s Gonzalo: “Don’t be shy. If you need help, if you are unsure about something you can always ask your lead. It’s much better to lose 30 minutes asking for something than to lose 2 days of work correcting an error, remember that they are in that position to help".
Gonzalo continues to say “On the other hand, you can always try to solve small problems before going to someone else. Many times people come to ask about naming conventions, paths, folder structures, polycount, and many other things that you can most of the times found on the project documentation, so always try to find your answer before going to someone else”.
“Listen and take notes! Nothing impresses more than if you pay attention to the instructions that you are given and execute down to the details”, says chief HR Officer Ann Keve from 10 Chambers Collective. Depending on your role, it might take some time to gain some independence and creative freedom. If you complete your designated tasks exactly as your lead envisions, using note-taking to help you, you’ll be in good favour with your leads, gaining their trust for larger responsibilities.
As any motivational speaker will tell you; teamwork makes the dream work. While done to death, the old adage does hold truth – getting acquainted with your colleagues is critical from the get-go, and will assist you in both understanding the company culture and getting help as and when you need it. Easier said than done, right? Well, Head of VR Development Sam Gage of Oxford VR tips
“Take part in different activities organised by your company – work related or otherwise – to bond with the rest of your studio members to get to know each other better – this will also improve your team chemistry. However, games require a lot of different types of personality to work together. Try to be accommodating, and give people the benefit of the doubt – always assume the best!”.
Your first month and beyond – establishing your place in the team
Patience is a virtue!
If you’re coming in as a junior, after a month or so you may feel well-acquainted with your role and responsibilities thus far; you may even feel ready to take on some more serious stuff. Sometimes though, it takes longer than you’d hope for your supervisors to feel ready to move you to the next level. “Be patient. Your time to shine with your skill and your ideas will come – get to know the culture and the projects and opportunity will come” says Ann from 10 Chambers.
…and with that comes humility.
If you’ve landed your first junior role, you may feel like a big-shot game developer overnight, but remember it takes more than you to make a game. Ann continues: “Be humble. Respect that making games is very hard and understand that a production is full of compromises instead of ideal solutions.” You may have to do things you don’t want to, even things you think are beneath you; but tackling these responsibilities with a positive attitude will stand you in good stead as a team player, a reliable and valuable member of the studio.
Where there’s a will there’s a way.
When the honeymoon stage ends, there may come a time where you encounter a grievance or have an issue with an internal process. “Try not to complain about things without offering a solution, it’s fine if you are not happy with something, you are always gonna have problems at work, but before complaining, think of a solution and communicate this to the next in the chain as a positive change, it’s always going to be super welcomed” says Airship’s Gonzalo.
How’d I do?
Gonzalo continues “always being open to receive feedback is one of the most important things you can do in a work environment. It doesn’t matter your position, you always need to be open to criticism, good or bad – we usually lose perspective of our working methods or quality of work after so many hours of doing the same thing, and it’s always good to take on board other people’s opinion, especially our seniors or leads, to get the best possible end product.”
As with any big change in life, embarking on a new stage in your career at a new studio comes with new responsibilities and worries. Everyone in your industry, your colleagues, your peers, even those rockstar developers your first followed into the industry will have gone through the same experiences, anxieties and concerns – you aren’t alone in that.
The studio that has taken you on board has belief in your abilities – so keep a positive outlook, keep motivated, and simply enjoy working in a fantastic industry!