Stryfe

A Quick Sorry, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Go For It

Dear Nerd Appropriate Faithful,

So this is sort of a two part-er. A moment of apology and a minute of self congratulations, with just a hint of word of advice.

This site started and continues to be a project of passion. Ash, Scott and I don’t do this because we think it will get us somewhere (although if someone is reading this that can get Ash or Scott into the gaming industry, they aren’t going to turn you down)…but I digress. We do this because we love games, we love talking about them, and more importantly we are passionate and truly care about the various minutiae that we talk about. We love the intricacies of game design, the details of comic books and the grandiosity of movies. It’s not that we think we will meet someone famous, it’s that we are happy there are people out there who are famous and make us enjoy life a bit more on a day to day basis.

We got waaaay behind on podcasts recently. It wasn’t Scott or Ash’s fault in the slightest, they were very helpful in just trying to get the audio from me to get it edited and up. There was a minor detail getting in the way though. I was moving across the country to do something that 11 year old Matt had never dreamed possible. It’s kind of a crazy process to move your entire life across the country. We were lucky to have friends and family who were more supportive then we could have imagined. Helping buy things that we were selling, aiding in hanging out at garage sales for hours, or even just adding words of happiness and encouragement. Scott and Ash were on that list of helpers many times. So for the past two weeks I’ve been sleeping on a friends couch, living out of a bag and working. Which is the real reason for this article.

I got a job for Marvel comics. The Marvel Comics. It’s weird saying that, it’s weird doing some of the things that I have done already at Marvel. I’m not writing this for congratulations or for pats on the back. I’m writing this to let you know that it can happen. That place that you dreamed about as a kid, whether it was Nintendo, Wizards, Marvel, NBC, Warner Brothers, Cartoon Network, Pixar (all places I’ve loved), you can work there. It really is possible. It’s easy to think you can’t. It’s easy to think that you’ll never be hired by that dream company in the city you’ve always wanted to be. It makes your other decisions about staying where you are that much easier. I can tell you from experience that having a good job in a city that you’ve always been in isn’t a bad thing. Not at all. That job supports your family, helps you get through the week, pays off student loans. Could be a number of things. But sometimes, just sometimes you need to take a leap. When you feel monotony creep in, when that meeting you’ve had a 1000 times happens 1001 times. It may be time to think about looking.

Ulitmate bad ass illegitimate evil twin brother.

Which leads to the next question. The question I’ve gotten from more friends then anything else. How? How did I do it? How did I go from being a web developer in Florida for a University to a web developer in New York for one of the largest comic book publishers on the planet. The answer isn’t easy, because I don’t really know. I can only tell you what actually happened. My wife was on Disney.com one day looking for a job and she saw three postings for Marvel positions in their digital department. She knew about my love affair with the big city and just casually mentioned I should apply to them. So I did, albeit not so casually. I spent time working on the perfect cover letter, I composed and recomposed my resume. I freaked out over every last detail. Finally after 3 days of hemming and hawing I applied…and waited…and waited some more. Nothing happened. Literally nothing. I got no response, no thank you. Not even an I’m sorry we chose someone else. My excitement quickly turned to sadness and I felt like that boat had sailed. It was a brief and temporary pipe dream that would probably remain that. I would stay in Florida, work my good job and continue producing for the site that professes my love for things just like Marvel.

Life went on. Four months later in July I was casually looking at job sites, not really applying to anything, just out of total curiosity. Then I saw it. Someone internally from Marvel was posting THE EXACT SAME JOB I applied for not 4 months ago. This time sidestepping Disney corporate’s job posting procedures. I looked at it for a brief minute in shock and decided I had to do it. I had to apply to this job again, no matter if I was denied before. To be honest, I could have applied for the rest of my life if the job had kept popping up. I have been reading Marvel comics since I was Eleven years old, and there was nothing that would keep me from working inside of the office that produced the X-Men, Punisher, X-Force, Spider-man, and all of the other heroes I’ve read my entire life. After sending it, I told Melissa that I applied but that obviously nothing would come of it. They ignored my previous application, this one is exactly the same, why would it matter now?

Then it happened, I got my first interview, then my second, then my third and fourth. Then they flew me up to meet everyone, then I had two more interviews and sure enough I was selling all of my possessions and leaving my wife behind for a few months to take a job at a place that I truly never believed I would work at. When I was eleven, Marvel wasn’t a place you could work. It was some mysterious place in New York that magically made comics appear on my newstand and comic shop shelves every week. There was no way a guy like me could work there. Yet there I was, walking into the building my first time to become a Marvel employee. It was terrifying. What if I sucked? What if it wasn’t what I thought? What if I hated it? It was way too late to turn back now, I’m stuck. I mean hell, MY GRANDMA knows that I took this job and is bragging all over town about it. I HAVE TO STAY IN NY NOW, NO MATTER WHAT!

That didn’t really answer the how though, and we’ll get back to my complete sense of bewilderment and terror in a moment. The “how” in my book is pretty simple. I’ll stress again that I have no idea what really got me the job or what my manager ultimately saw, but I can tell you what I felt. Excitement and passion. This wasn’t some job, this was Marvel. I wasn’t applying so that I can do web development, I was applying so that I can work on the upcoming Spider-man site, or the Digital Comics reader. I CARED and I cared a lot. When I was asked if I read comics, I answered “Of Course!” When I was asked who my favorite Marvel villian was, I answered Stryfe without hesitation. (He had a bad ass helmet when I was 13). When asked about web development I could ( and do ) go on for hours about the latest things you can do with javascript, or what I’ve built in PHP. These are things I am passionate about. I applied and followed through on this job because on my worst day sitting at my desk, when I hate everything and don’t want to be doing what I”m doing, eleven year old me will kick thirty-one year old me in the shins and not so politely remind him that he works for Marvel and he should rightly shut his complaining the hell up.

It is terrifying to go after something you’ve never dreamed possible but always dreamed of wanting. Because you can get rejected. You can be left standing like your 13 year old self dateless on 8th grade dance night because you got turned down. It’s possible, hell, probably likely that you may not get the job you want right away, or worse, you get it and then you can’t pull it off. You can not let that stop you. Of course you could fail, you could fail at anything. What if you suck at eating ice cream, it isn’t going to stop you right? (That was a ridiculous example). I digress though, if you never did anything in life because you could suck at it, then you will never do anything in life. That is not the way to progress. I applied to a dream job, Scott is getting a Doctorate and Ash started his life completely over with a SECOND degree at the age of 27 (I think the age is right) so that he could teach kids about something he is passionate about. We all could have failed at these things, but it didn’t deter us from taking a chance and doing something in life. You HAVE to try.

I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite sentiment on the site.

So what I’m trying to say with this article, is that it’s been two weeks now of sleeping on a couch and living out of a duffle bag and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My back is screwed up, I’m lacking sleep, but the other day I switched out the Avengers graphic on the movie site and it is easily the most surreal thing I’ve ever worked on in my life. You can follow your passions, you CAN apply your current abilities and qualifications at a company that you AND your Grandma would be proud of you for. All you have to do is care and follow your passions and be consistent. You aren’t out there looking for any game development company, you are applying to THE game dev company. You don’t want to work on any old writing, you want to write lines that Commander Shepard is going to say. You may laugh, but it’s not impossible. I’ve been doing web development for seven years professionally and a few before that, you just have to keep at it, keep trying and never let anyone tell you no. It’s like I said, I applied to the same position twice at Marvel and I would have applied a hundred more times if that is what it would have taken. Because I wanted it, and I wanted it bad.

So again, I’m sorry that my articles may have slowed and the podcast ground to a halt, but things are back on track and it is all for the better. I hope everyone out there one day gets to land a job they never thought they might have, or meet a hero they always felt unreachable. You just have to keep trying and keep believing that it can and HAS to happen. So I’m not leaving the site, we are just now based out of two cities. Hopefully this will bring bigger and better things. I (and we) appreciate all of you listening, reading, commenting, writing emails, sharing suggestions and everything else you have done to help make this site the way it is now. There is so much more to come and I’m feeling more hopeful now then I ever have before. Thank you, I’m sorry, and follow your dreams. You can never do it if you don’t try.

All the best in the universe,

Matt

PS share you dream jobs in the comments. You never know who may be reading here that can help you out. No one is in it alone.

  • dtmexploded

    So, Stan Lee on the next podcast, yes?

    Dream job… Principal of my own school. Haven’t decided what level yet, though. Need some Elementary experience to compare it with Middle. Really hoping to make it happen by my 40th birthday. We’ll see…

    Great article. Huge stones, moving and all that. Hope to do the same thing someday.

  • What an inspiring story. It’s so easy for people to dismiss their dreams and settle. I’m really happy for you. Moving to New York was, without a doubt, the hardest and yet most amazing experience of my life. I can only hope that you and Melissa enjoy it as much as Kristin and I do.

    Oh, and get a subscription to Time Out New York. Trust me. It’s become our guide to everything going on in the city. It’s cheap, incredibly helpful and everyone likes getting fun mail every week.

  • You might think I’d say game designer, but really… I’d just like to make technology more understandable and enjoyable for people… and to make sure robots don’t enslave the human race. Entertainment, simulation, training… I’d like to be another person that’s making [your] experience on “The Grid” a better one.

    • matt

      Oh I didn’t mean game designer. I just said game industry. I never figured you to be on the design side, maybe AI intelligence.

  • Dream job? Famous Actress. (everyone who knows me well, knows this) I intend to make this a dream come true.

    2nd dream job? wedding planner/coordinator – CHECK.

    3rd dream job? I WANT TO WORK AT MARTHA STEWART OMNIMEDIA IN NYC!!!!!

  • Rigger

    Great article Matt. Congrats on the dream job.

  • Dream job…travel back and forth to Indonesia and Africa to help save the chimpanzees and orangutans left in the wild and in captive situations. Workin’ on it now…www.redapes.org

  • Rigger

    Oh and current dream job would be concept artist. I got some work to do though.

  • Ash

    I enjoyed your article good sir. I really do enjoy what I’m doing now with a few exceptions. However, If I could do anything on Earth I’d sure love to do something creative and get paid for it. I’ve always wanted to write/ direct a film and have always enjoyed entertaining people with stories and information. On a semi-realistic note I’d love to work for pennies writing about the things I love.

  • Cohen

    Great stuff Matt…definitely inspiring in many ways. I get strange spurts where I feel like I want to design/build theme park rides and rollercoasters. I might start with a mini backyard setup, that sounds safe right?

  • Justin

    Really encouraging words, Matt. I wish you the best of success in all you do at Marvel.