The pandemic has sequestered many of us to our homes, away from in-person connection and networking opportunities. Finding a job is harder than ever now, as people scramble to connect over email, social media and video conferences. Trojan Horse Was a Unicorn (THU), a networking ecosystem built to share knowledge, inspire and empower creators from all areas of the digital entertainment & interactive industry knew something unique was needed in these trying times. Adjusting to the current normal, THU decided to take a novel approach to providing job hunting and professional development resources to its community.
We’ve all done it - scrolling through job ads, cold-emailing prospective employers, updating our CVs, portfolios, and LinkedIn profiles, applying to our dream positions, and hearing nothing in response. It’s disappointing, frustrating, demoralizing, and at times, even soul-crushing. Enter job hunting during a pandemic and these emotions amplify tenfold. Hearing that was what its community was facing, THU decided it was time to change the process and humanize it. Welcome to THU Career Camp by Lenovo, a free 3-day event taking place November 11-13.
THU is about connection and community. As such, its first order of business was to ensure people were getting the word out to those in need. Each tribe member (anyone who had attended a past THU event) was entitled to two Career Camp passes: one for themselves, and one for a friend. Because even though they might not be looking or didn’t need career development resources right now, chances are, they knew someone who did. And if you weren’t yet part of the tribe, or didn’t have an in with a past member, you could still apply to gain access.
Reaching out to recruiters and HR professionals across VFX, Animation, Video Games, Mobile Games and AR/VR, among other areas, THU gathered intel and suggestions from leaders in the industry: on positive experiences from past events, suggestions for improvements, and tips and advice for those currently job hunting. Besides the expected “do your research” and “come prepared” advice, insights from Space Ape Games such as “Please relax. We want you to have a great, informal experience with us.” helped put applicants at ease. “Try not to overthink or think too much about how to impress recruiters - we want to see the real you and get to know you” from Supercell, highlighted the power of authenticity. And “Build relationships. We are a small industry and connecting through Career Camp is a fantastic opportunity. You may not get a job right away, but those relationships help when something does open up for you.” from Sony really captured the tone of the event: friendly, approachable, connected. Sharing these insights with the tribe helped set the stage for what to expect.
The experience itself remains true to the spirit of THU, it feels fresh and fun. Think choose-your-own-adventure, where you get to explore areas at will. Looking to meet other members of the THU tribe? Cool, you’ll likely be headed to the “Warriors” section, where you can interact with over 1600 participants (including event mentors and recruiters)! Eager to check out the opening ceremony and industry talks? “The Main Stage” is the place to be. Seeking guidance on anything from how to craft your resume or portfolio, to insights on video game production, entrepreneurship, how to focus your career, the path to art director, and more? The “Mentorships” area has you covered, facilitating nearly 60 small group and 1:1 interactions. Curious which companies are participating in the Career Camp? Check out the “Companies” section, listing all 45 companies in attendance and what jobs and/or mentorship opportunities they offered. There’s even a “Sony Oasis” where you can find out more about Sony’s volumetric capture technology and share your ideas. And of course, you’ll have ample opportunities throughout to chat, ask questions and make new friends and connections. There’s something for everyone inside the Career Camp.
Technology has enabled us to stay connected in these challenging times, but overcoming the inherent limits and disconnect of digital interactions continues to be a struggle. THU’s Career Camp by Lenovo is a step in the right direction, encouraging agency and personality to shine through by applying a multi-faceted approach. Setting the scene for more engaging human interactions, THU is indeed “helping create a sense of unity and hope.”