AIE Alumnus, Liam O’Leary recently spoke at the Sydney Alumni Event. I gave him the brief of explaining how he got his first job, in the industry. This is his story…

I graduated AIE in 2013 after completing both the Game Art and Incubator course. During this time, I worked as an intern for an indie game company, released my own adventure game with other AIE students, worked for clients around the Sydney area and released my own children’s interactive picture book for second screen devices.

Once I completed the incubator program I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I knew I wanted to work for a company but I didn’t quite know how to get noticed. The competition to get your foot in theLiam O'Leary door is so tough and I wasn’t sure how to stand out from the crowd.

I decided I wouldn’t wait around and let someone hand me a job, I wanted to make it for myself If no one else was willing to offer me the opportunity.

Once incubator was over AIE offered me a “hot seat.” This allowed me to still work on marketing my children’s interactive picture book while still sitting in a creative space. At that time, I thought I would try and apply for any jobs that popped up in the industry but my main focus would be to release more interactive picture books.

One day someone came into the incubator space and looked over my shoulder at what I was doing. He asked if I wanted to send in my resume to his producer to see if they had any available internships.

From that point I then interned at his company for 9 weeks, was then hired as a background artist and then 2 months later was promoted to running the team. For the next 2 years I then held that position working on the ABC kids cartoon Prisoner Zero for Planet 55 studios.

From my story it seems like I got “lucky” and you would be right. In a lot of cases luck does have a big role to play in getting your foot in the door but it’s important to focus on why that luck happened.

If I wasn’t actively working toward my own goals, and working on my own projects I would have never been sitting in that seat to have been offered the initial opportunity.

My advice is to not wait for someone to hand you your future. If you know this is what you want to be doing, then it’s time to start doing it. When I left AIE a lot of professionals told me to “just keep doing what you’re doing.” In all honesty this is the best advice they could have given me, but I didn’t quite understand what they meant.

It means keep making your games. Make something small, prove to yourself that you can do it. If you work on your own projects and get them out there you never know what’s going to happen along the way. Before I got picked up by Planet 55 I had worked for 6 years at Bunnings Warehouse and another 3 at a café. These things don’t happen overnight, but if you are persistent, committed and driven you will be in the right place at the right time.