I hung out with Dann, Melissa and Colin last night. Colin has worked at Bioware for a little over a year longer than I have, so about 2 years total. And we got to talking… I didn’t like a lot of what I realized, even though deep down I already knew and was just in denial.
EA recently made a company wide mandate that terms could only work on contract for a maximum of one year. The idea behind it is that companies don’t exploit term employees, and should know after a year if they’re worth hiring permanent (salary), otherwise they should let them go and try some new blood. This is all good and great, but when the economy fell apart EA also instated a temporary headcount lock. No new hires. So essentially that puts terms between a rock and a hard place. Maximum term of a year, with no hope of being hired.
But over the next few months I saw some exceptions. A handful of people did get hired permanent anyway, but they were definitely a small group of people. So we have a few dozen QA terms, some have been with the company as long as 4 years on terms, and know a lot more than I do, and they’re all competing for the rare time Bioware is willing to hire someone new. Doesn’t look good…
I knew all this already, but was just being extremely optimistic in hoping I’d be hired permanent by the time my year was up (October). During my last contract renewal I was told there was a loophole, somewhat. If I don’t get hired permanently by the time my contract is up, I can’t work for the company for 3 months, but after that I can come back for another full year. Not the ideal situation, but for the ideal job, I’d be willing to put up with worse.
So the way things will likely play out is I won’t get hired permanently by October, and will have to work somewhere else for 3 months (maybe the Rogers Video here!). After which I can come back to Bioware and work for another year, and try my hand again at making permanent, and hope the economy gets better and Bioware can start hiring more liberally.
I plan on learning the developers toolset to learn a new skill set and be more valuable, and just continue to be my best and make myself as invaluable as possible.
Another fact of the matter is that not everyone will be as determined. I hate the cut-throat nature of times like these, but I’m sure there will be a lot of people who aren’t willing to take 3 months off, and will just follow other ambitions or leads. This pushes me further up the seniority totem. I’m willing to put in as much time as required.
The whole conversation with Colin just made things real, doesn’t really change my plans though. But I have to be realistic. It’s pretty unlikely I’ll have permanent within a year making salary. But if I’m willing to stick at it for 3 or 4 years, by then chances go up quite a bit. My cousin was a term for 2 and a half years before he got salary, though that was in a better economic time.
But I’ve finally found a career path I’m passionate about, and I can’t let go of this. Whatever it takes, I’ll do. Absolute worst case scenario, if Bioware Edmonton doesn’t pan out, I can look in to EA in Vancouver, or the new Montreal branch of Bioware. Or even Ubisoft Montreal.
So the adventure continues. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.