Cryss Leonhart, community manager at online game company Aeria Games Europe, tells us the lessons he has learnt moving from journalism to indie development, and eventually, community management.
A while back, I was ready to pony up close to 30k for three years of heavy drinking and occasionally studying (if you can believe it) geology. When my friends left university they stepped into a job market filled with applications demanding experience as I boarded a flight to my most challenging opportunity yet.
I’d like to point out that I don’t consider university a waste (far from it), but would like to highlight other ways you can break into the industry.
I wasn’t really expecting to fall into the industry like I did, a friend of mine requested help covering E3 and after the event had finished I continued writing. I was terrible (any journalist who looks back at their first articles will most likely agree), but learned a lot and had a great mentor.
When he left, I took over his responsibilities, engaging fans on social media and learning about Facebook and Twitter. I never became a huge journalist, but I’d honed my writing and backed it up through social media. I read up on SEO and incorporated it into my work, anything to bolster my skillset.
Eventually I started my own site, developing my network of contacts, managing a number of writers, dishing out review code and making sure we met deadlines. I’d bolstered my CV with people skills, time management, planning and organisational skills.
It was these skills that landed me an internship for an indie PR firm in London, unpaid gig, but I learned so much and could work from home (unless I was needed in the office). I paid my bills by working night shifts at a local cinema (which put some grueling 15-hour days into the work week) and by caring for my grandparents in the semblance of what I called ‘free time’.
It was tough, but I had creative freedom and was in charge of my own projects. I helped developers shape their game, performing QA one minute and writing a press release the next. Their passion inspired me, resonating with my desire to find my place in the industry.
As my internship drew to a close, I was looking for places to apply everything I’d learned. I saw an application for a community manager that didn’t require a university qualification, though it was in Germany.
It took a while to hear back from them, but when I did things moved pretty quickly. In the space of three short weeks, I’d had two phone interviews, a presentation to prepare and an interview in the Berlin office. Soon after I was offered the job and had three weeks to move my life to Berlin.
Don’t under value your experience and what you can bring to the table when looking for your start in the industry and never stop building that skillset.