4 Hugues Ross - Blog: A post-graduation reflection
Hugues Ross


A post-graduation reflection

Last May, I got my Bachelor's Degree at Champlain College. Now that May has come again, I thought I'd give a quick recap on my first year out of school.

Getting a job

I started hunting for jobs on and off several months before graduation. Unlike many of my peers, I was in the interesting position of not wanting any sort of game development job at all. For years, I'd read stories about the horrors of game development and how it churns through the annual supply of bright-eyed college grads. So, I applied to software development gigs and got ignored a whole lot!
I suppose it's natural. Game Programming doesn't sound like the most reliable major to pick, even with the work I've done on my own. Ultimately, I got my current job through a mix luck and networking: My friend Vince (lead programmer on The Last Light) recommended me to a recruiter from Ubisoft Montreal during the end-of-year showcase of our game, and that led to an offer. (Seriously, networking is really good and you should do it) I wanted to stay close to my home in Vermont, so I decided to take the offer rather than keep looking.


With the offer accepted and some necessary summer prep work complete, I found myself on the other side of the border just in time for Fall. Due to a scheduling mishap, I ended up arriving a month and a half before my start date, giving me plenty of time to settle in and explore the city. In order to best take advantage of this, I spent the majority of the time sitting in my room with a tiny specter of legal and financial uncertainty drifting lazily over my head.

Now that the weather is warm and I no longer fear for my checking account, I've been spending more time going out and looking around. Overall, I'm super happy to be here! Being half-French, I'm enjoying the mix of languages especially, even if I now have an irrational fear of peanuts.
Yup definitely not made of spiders no siree
...Moving briskly on, Montreal is a really nice spot to live. I've got a nice inexpensive apartment on the Plateau, and some streets are lined with enough trees to almost give the feeling of being in the woods! As someone who grew up in a reasonably small town village, the neighborhood makes me feel at home while still providing all of the bustle and convenience of a city close by. (And of course, there are some standard socialist benefits like free healthcare and unified public transportation systems)

Work life

Unfortunately, I won't be discussing too many details of my work. I'm not 100% sure what is/isn't covered under my NDA, so for now I'm playing it safe and speaking in very general terms. If I get that cleared up I might discuss some juicy details in a future post. So far, Ubisoft has been an incredibly pleasant surprise. Being a big publisher, I was expecting them to screw me over at every opportunity, but I have absolutely no complaints about them.

I've only truly been "on the job" for a scant few months (I was in a long-term training up until mid-January), but I feel like I'm trusted and relied upon regardless. I usually get handed a bunch of requests and long-term goals, and then I'm left to my own devices until they're finished. Not only have I not done any overtime, the senior devs that I work under have made a point of reminding me to take it easy on the hours and stay fresh. Some of this can be chalked up to the fact that the production I'm on is still at a very early stage, but even so I was expecting much more pressure.

Another fear that I had was about whether or not I'd be allowed to continue my personal work unrestricted. Ubisoft requires you to send in a 'request' for side-projects, but:
  1. The restrictions that come attached are mostly just obvious things that most sane people wouldn't do in the first place
  2. The responses get back to you in a reasonably timely manner
  3. I have pushed no fewer than 19 personal projects through the official channels, and to this date not one of them has been refused.
Point is, they're pretty nice about these sorts of things. It would be even better if they didn't ask for requests at all, but at least the process is simple and painless.

The work itself has been really fulfilling and exciting for me. I've been doing tools work since it's the closest I can get to normal software development, and it's been a lot of fun! It makes me a little disappointed that Champlain doesn't cover tools programming in their curriculum at all, given how crucial good tools are to large-scale production teams. I'm mostly working in C# and WPF, but my experience with Vala and GTK are still coming in handy regardless. Indeed, it feels like both my personal and professional work are fueling each others growth.

To sum it up, I've managed to land a fun and not-too-stressful job in a city where I feel at home right out of college. I can't help but feel lucky where I am right now, and I hope my current streak of good luck lasts quite some time to come!

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