A Welcoming Working Lunch
It never ceases to amaze me the goodwill and hard work of the Australian and New Zealand gaming and tech industry.
This is an industry that has every reason to buckle under its numerous challenges – whether it be access to suitable telecommunication infrastructure, aligning industry standards in tertiary curriculum, seeking suitable employment bargaining agreements, or even being able to count on a consistent avenue of government support. It always seems to be a question about “legitimacy” of the career path.
But through it all, what I have always found to be the most fascinating is watching how the Australian gaming and tech industry finds some way to survive and thrive, and it does so through its focus on people.
Ally McLean hits this same point when discussing the Working Lunch Program – an initiative to assist women and non-binary people in the games industry take positive steps towards identifying as emerging professionals, with mentors and a reliable network of support. Now in its second year, McLean is enthusiastic to expand the program beyond our island continent to our neighbours in New Zealand, based on the positive feedback for the program and its success in the translation of mentorship into industry employment (cited as 30% translation in its first year). The Working Lunch definitely has the feedback to achieve further success, not only from participants but also through awards such as The Women’s Weekly Women of the Future Innovation and Technology Award, the NSW Creative Achievement Awards and Trade Media Awards ‘Women in Games’ Awards for campaigner of the year and outstanding achievement.
However, it also needs the mentors and the mentees committed not only developing their professional expertise, but also to engage in these positive networks that will further fuel our industry and grow these initiatives. This is not an uncommon occurrence, with a lot of tertiary institutions focusing on opportunities for “work-integrated learning” as they see the benefit of mentoring new professionals at early stages to keep their industry thriving (whether it be the traditional service avenues such as health and education, or white-collar administrative and managerial roles). Even the research sector is going down this track, due to concerns that higher degree research graduates often do not have general graduate capabilities when seeking employment in the industry sector. It is great to see these sorts of opportunities, especially for underrepresented cohorts such as women and non-binary people, and goes to show that people who are enthusiastic and passionate enough about their workplace and professional community can make great things happen even in the absence of more traditional support structures.
Applications for mentors and mentees are now open, and The Working Lunch are seeking entry-level mentees who are looking for work in the industry or just starting in their first role, and mentors who are experienced contributors working in the games sector and are passionate about developing the next wave of contributors and professionals. Applications close on 19 February 2019, and further information can be found at http://www.workinglunch.online/apply/
When Sarah was young, her brother complained that she “got through that final level of Super Mario World on a fluke.” Refining this skill, Sarah has continued to be successful purely by accident. Follow her on Twitter at @essieteric.