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If I Knew Then What I Know Now…

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Last week, I was given the responsibility of training a Summer intern. Let’s call him Sam.

Sam requested to intern at Studio 216 after seeing some of our work earlier this year. He expressed a high level of interest in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, and was already taking college courses in programming. Sam sent us some small Unity projects he created, and we saw plenty of potential.

We have a steady flow of projects to keep our plate full every day. I spent some time trying to establish a strong list of objectives for Sam’s internship that would supplement our daily routine, and teach him skills that will further his education in the field of immersive technologies. After the first week, I discovered something intriguing.

elevator-to-success-200x300Studio 216 builds content for a wide range of clients. Some clients like mobile apps, some like Gear VR, some love VR or AR, and others want Hololens. While this sounds like a lot, it’s actually just multiple facets of the same objective, delivering media and content through the latest immersive tech.

Sam needed to learn how to build content for each of these delivery methods, and deploy them successfully. We set him up with a kick-ass PC, Unity 5.5, and a few objectives. This is where the story gets interesting.

Within the first few days, Sam had successfully built an Augmented Reality app, deployed it to an Android device, built a working Oculus Touch prototype, and then moved on to building a Gear VR demo. He was blasting through objectives like he’d been doing it for years, even though it was his first time seeing some of it.

I was stunned and excited. How was this possible?

It took my team months to understand and develop some of the content that Sam built in one day. After I thought about it for a while, it started to make sense.

There was no discovery needed on Sam’s part. There was no need to fiddle with broken SDKs, or software version mismatches. Sam didn’t need to test and determine the amount of draw calls or poly counts that would break a mobile experience. He didn’t need to wait for bug fixes or magic mojo from John Carmack. The last few years have been full of challenges, frustration, and broken… everything. I bet we lost a few good devs because of this.

For the most part, everything is stable now and does what it should.

Some developers in this industry can tell stories and share battle wounds from being involved at the beginning. We’ve paid our dues and gained the knowledge necessary to do our jobs the best we can. New developers who jump in now, will have it much easier because we have cleared the path and paved the way.

People always ask me how to jump into this industry. Is it too late? Did they miss the boat?

I say that NOW is the BEST time to join in. Things are easier now, thanks to the pioneers and the risk takers.

Come join the fun, and reap the benefits of our challenges and experiences. Find a ‘veteran’ VR/AR dev, and pick their brains. Listen to their stories, both good and bad. These devs have a bounty of knowledge and most are excited to pass it on.

I am certain now that Sam will quickly catch up to the rest of my development team, and will leave this internship with a load of skills that will set him up for success in this industry. I am excited to see what amazing things are in his future.

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