Level Up. Unlock More (Job) Opportunities

February 5, 2012

It is amazing how many skills I've learned from playing video games. So many hours playing StarCraft and Command & Conquer: Red Alert taught me to monitor everything in project management and multi-task. The SIMs taught me that if I drink too much water I might piss myself in the living room floor in the middle of a party.Just kidding. Seriously. I don't pee my pants at parties.I have recently been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic where I play as a Sith Bounty Hunter. I am a freelance contractor, it only made sense to be a bounty hunter, right? The game is your standard Role Playing Game (RPG) where you start with a basic character. From there, you go on quests and do missions to earn experience points. Once you acquire a certain amount of experience points, you level up and can add certain skills to your character, making him or her more powerful (than you can possibly imagine). You can also gain credits on the way to purchase new items, combining your skills with weapons to become even more effective.Uh…this sounds like real life. The reality…it is very similar.This month marks a full year that I have been working with my mentor. When we met, I was still pretty junior and had a lot to learn from her. There were certain tasks she assigned me that took me some time to finish, and she usually gave me a lot of revisions. Not after leveling up, baby! After doing a lot of these projects, I learned and gained experience. My dexterity, knowledge (but not resistence to lightning, unforunately) increased and I became more effective at what I did.It is amazing how much has changed in a year, and what I'm able to do. I emailed Marie a few days ago and asked her to give me feedback on what I can do better and areas I can focus on. I think it made her really happy to hear that.Here are some RPG realizations that will help you in the work world:

  • Maybe I don't have the skills to complete this quest? If you're in a job search and wondering why you have not got that offer for the dream job...it could be you do not have the skills for it. This is not a shot at you, but a possible truth. Think about not just what skills are required for this job, but what skills can make you destroy the competition.
  • Experience points matter, even in areas you are highly skilled in. Experienced developers unlearn and learn code again to make sure they stay relevant in their field. Never say to yourself "I don't need a refresher". As a designer, I look for unexplored areas to see if there is a nugget of information I can take to become even better at what a do. A great example is when I learned to start using smart objects in Adobe Photoshop.
  • Focus on your quest. Don't be a PK. Don't be a Player Killer. There is a bunch of low-hanging fruit in work, and we all can get our own. There really is no need to be so invested in what other people are doing.

In life, you can never stop leveling up. Acquire new skills constantly, sharpen your old skills and you will find bliss in the work world.