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Archive for February, 2013

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I’ve started a hobby research project of sorts, in Geek Sociology and how it interacts with mainstream culture and the job market. I am looking for stories and anecdotes from geeks and nerds out there on how they may have used their subcultural skills and knowledge to land them opportunities and advantages in mainstream society, maybe even landed them a job! Once I’ve gathered enough material I intend to produce a highly anecdotal article on it, as I suspect there could be a hidden well of tricks and references when it comes to the advancement of Geeks and their ability to earn Credits or Platinum, based on some fairly specific traits.

I’ll start with myself as an example, limiting myself to my time in America, which would be the last 6 years of my life.

My first “job” was an internship at [insert big state agency archive], I talked my way into that one, completely without geek references – probably a very good thing at the time, as the former [boss title person in my field and in that state] didn’t seem to have any appreciation for alternative culture. However! When I started working there, I befriended several geeks, one archivist who was a full blown RPG gamer, he became a good friend (and introduced me to the Order of the Stick!), and one tiny birdlike brilliant archivist/historian lady who was a huge Trekkie and Star Wars fan and could swap trivia with the best of them. So, while my geek traits didn’t initially land me a foot in, it certainly led to me having more gigs with [big state agency Archive] over the years, because my friends talked me up with the boss person.

Another job I had alongside other work was for an on line site for educational resources, used by teachers and librarians. I wrote book lesson units on YA books, both modern and classics. This chance was given to me by one of the editors on the site, a wonderful woman whom I got to know on line, on a blog platform, and with whom I definitely shared a nerdy passion for children’s and YA lit. My first job was on Pullman’s The Golden Compass, and it went on to other writers, such as Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket.

A few years later I needed a job while waiting to start Grad school, something temporary but fairly decently paying. There were not that many jobs in this category lying around, as you might imagine. A friend of mine told me that she had faxed a company that was “looking for people exactly like you”. O rly? I said, and you faxed them my contact info?

She had, to a prosperous company called “Renaissance Adventures” in my home town. When I didn’t bother contacting them, the owner called me on the phone himself, that’s how well my friend had pimped me out. And what she had written them to promote me, were things that I hadn’t in my wildest imagination thought would land me a fairly decently payed job ever. It was the fact that I had played D&D, done LARPS, played amateur theater and written fantasy stories.

I met with the owner, who convinced me to attend a School-of-the-Performing-Arts type of audition. There were about 70 people seeking 9 jobs, auditioning for Renaissance Adventures (RA). Most were younger, more athletic and better looking than me, including the guys. We were divided in groups, ten in each group and then a full afternoon of hard core improvisation and roleplaying commenced. Poetry, song, myth, acting and game systems on the fly baby. Not for weaklings, for sure. I thought I saw a lot of talent, there was a big mix of applicants; college students, real actors in need of seasonal work, camp leaders, various types of performers, even some teachers and librarians. But not surprisingly many were professional performers and actors of some kind.

The nine that were picked in the end consisted of 6 guys and 3 gals,  4 actors, 1 camp counselor with a degree in child care, 2 performers with multifaceted skills in juggling/singing and playing instruments, one Library science teacher and…me. Our job would be to lead groups of kids between 7 and 15 on empowering quests where anything could happen. I still am not sure what exactly made them hire me, but I do know that I had rarely been geekier in a job setting than there. I played a troll, a unicorn a dwarf, and many other parts, I improvised bad verse and talked game systems, and then I guess I also hit people with foam swords. Yeah..good times. There was a fairly heavy bureaucratic and pedagogic side to the job too, which I had to embrace later, but I have no doubt in my mind that my geeky traits played a big part in landing me that job.

I went away to grad school that fall, and had a fairly intense couple of years “commuting” between Sweden and the US (writing my thesis about an American subject, but putting it forward in a European University). But when I came back, it was time to look for work again.

My family made me aware of a manager position for an archival agency in my home town, and I laughed at the thought. I have never managed anything in my life, except possibly pets and gamer children. But everybody and their dog says that you should apply for anything in your field, and go to interviews as if there is no tomorrow. So I did.

To my surprise it landed me an interview, and I found myself sitting around a big oval table in a fancy conference room with about ten manager-type individuals taking turns on grilling me.  It was as if something went boink in my head, and I found myself giving off Harry Potter jokes like soda burps (well, they were GOOD HP jokes, pertaining to the old vaults in the old big archive I had worked in, comparing it to Hogwarts). They laughed, as Harry Potter isn’t necessarily only a Geeky cultural phenomena, but also fully belongs to mainstream culture nowadays, and can be seen as one of many gateway drugs into full nerdhood. After an additional Dr. Who reference (about the Tardis and getting things done in time) and a (rather subtle) shooter game reference, I thought I’d bridle myself a bit and the interview was amiably wrapped up.

I did not get the manager position, but they did call me back and gave me a job in the same department, and within my field…so I guess they must have been really into Howarts, Dr. Who or video games, at least they didn’t mind me being into them, which is a small tribute to nerd culture in my book.

 

 

Give me your thoughts and stories, either through the blog platforms or facebook, or if you know me, in more direct ways, I’m eager to hear them!

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