The short story:
My research work under a federal grant is ending May 31st, so I have been job seeking. A little bit tired of chemistry, I decided to switch careers and look into software engineering. After countless interviews, programming tests, etc. I was offered a job today as a gameplay programmer for Black Lantern Studios working on an unannounced Wii game! The madness of it all!
The long story:
For the past three years I have been working as a research associate at the Toxicore Laboratory in Kansas City. The work has been interesting and very good for me. I was lucky enough to attend several national conferences to present my work, as well as get a few publications in mainstream science journals.
During this time, I came to gamedev.net and my programming really took off. I had long attempted to program games, but lacked sufficient knowledge. That changed very rapidly once the resources of gamedev.net came to my aid. So, I started actually making and finishing real, albeit short, games. My interest in programming was renewed and I went back to college for two semesters to finish my B.A. in computer science. Since then, I have continued working at the lab and making games in my free time. The latest fruits of my labor, Fireheart and Gearo, really show the progress that I had made the past few years in game development.
In January of this year, I found out that our grant extension was denied and our work would come to an end this May. Although saddened that I would be leaving the lab that had treated me so well for three years, it seemed the perfect opportunity to switch back into programming and more specifically software engineering. Since February, I have been sending out my resume to several software companies in and around Kansas City. Although there were some opportunities that came about, none of the positions were really a good fit for me or my skills. About 5 weeks ago I started to worry a bit that I wouldn't be able to find the 'right' job. A wee bit of despair set in. I knew I could always stay in chemistry, but I really felt this was my opportunity to get into SE.
Shortly after that, I happened to visit one of my old professors at the University and showed him my latest builds of Gearo, while talking to him about the difficulty of breaking into SE. He asked me how many game development companies I had applied to. Hmm. None. I never really considered it. After a bit of discussions it did seem like the right thing to do, and it is hard for me to describe why I had not done so up to that point. But later that night, I sent out my resume and game dev portfolio to a few game development studios here in the Midwest.
One week later I was taking programming tests out the wazoo. As slow as a start as I had with my SE applications, game dev interviews and tests came raining in. So I took them (some well and some not so well) and did a few interviews. I found a very small dev studio in Springfield, near my hometown, and applied in the off chance that they might have something available. They did.
For the next two weeks, there were interviews, tests, and finally, the glorious moment this morning when I found out that I had got the job. Wow. After so many years of wanting to make games, then finally getting a taste for it, I have now been given the opportunity to do it at a much bigger level. That makes me happy.
I wish there were more of you crazy gamedev.netters in the KC area 'cause drinks are on me for the next few days!
Anyways, what I wanted to say was thanks for everyone here that ever helped me, read my journal, or gave me advice. It is this wonderful community that really deserves the congratulations of getting a chemist-turned-hobby-developer into an actual professional game developer position. Cheers to all of you!
And for those who are curious, I'll be posting about Gearo quite soon. Lots of progress and fun things to show!