As some of you may or may not know my main passion is rendering. I can get extremely excited about implementing fancy lighting systems, next-gen rendering pipelines and everything in between. Obviously my goal was to find a job doing just this once I had my degree; the only downside to this idea was that Belgium doesn't really have an active game industry. Conclusion: I'd probably need to get my degree, get a software engineering job at a local company and try to work my way into a game development company abroad (preferrably across the atlantic ocean) one way or another after gaining some professional experience.
I went to visit my cousin in Vancouver last month together with a good friend of mine. This cousin is doing a year-long marketing internship at a local company and is basically having the time of his life. Of course I had to go over there to join in on the fun.
Some time before I departed from Belgium my cousin and I started talking about the organisation through which he set up his internship and all the other internship opportunites which were available in Vancouver. Apparently this organisation was in talks with a game development studio, and this studio in particular was looking for someone with experience in rendering.
Of course, this piqued my interest, but I didn't give myself any illusions. I was still in university, I did not have a degree nor any professional software development experience whatsoever and my portfolio was made up out of an engine project and a bunch of small tech demos. Since there were talks about possibly setting up a meeting with this company I collected some of my best demos, wrote up a resume and made contact cards, but I still wasn't really optimistic about my odds of actually impressing anyone. The reaction I was expecting from this meeting was something along the lines of "that looks really nifty, why don't you come back in a couple of years and we might be able to talk business", and I would've been really happy with that (having contacts in this industry means a lot!).
So after a week of being in Vancouver I had my first job interview. Ever. 8000 kilometers from home. And it was awesome!
I was able to show off my work, talk about my engine project I've been working on for the past four years and to my amazement the discussion quickly changed to talks about an intern position for the coming year and a possible full time placement afterwards. All in all it was just a very exciting and surreal experience.
After this day my life was pretty much turned upside down. I'd be leaving Belgium and move to Vancouver for at least a year. I would be giving up my studies (although my university guaranteed me that I could pick them back up from where I left them if I wanted to). I really couldn't refuse this offer since it was basically everything I ever wanted in a job.
A couple of days after the meeting I arrived back home in Belgium, and the events of the past couple of days just seemed way too surreal. In the following weeks there'd be tons of paperwork, a technical interview including a programming test over Skype (which went really really awesome as well), apartment hunting and telling friends and family that I'd be moving to the other side of the world very soon.
This brings us to the present day. I'm finishing up all of the required paperwork (work permit, rental contract, etc.) and I hope to be able to depart for Canada in about a week or three.
I couldn't be more excited.