In the true spirit of Valentine’s day, I thought I’d share with our very own fairy tale love stories. We’re used to helping people with new jobs and career moves, but it’s not often it comes with such a tale behind it! To quote ol’ Cinderella “If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.’’ and this story really makes it hit home just how true that is.
Stefanie was preparing to move from the Netherlands, looking forward to starting her new job with Outplay in Dundee, when she received a welcome message from Neil, a soon-to-be work colleague.
“I knew Stef’s artwork & had even shown it as an example in pitch documents for Outplay, so when I found out she was joining us I messaged her to be, like “hey I’m a fan of your art already” explained Neil.
Now to me, a hopeless romantic, this is the dream as I’ve always had the belief your boyfriend should be your biggest fan!
“We were friends right from the start, and through working on the same game we started hanging out together more and more.” says Stef. “It became pretty obvious we were starting to get feelings for each other”
After a trip to Marrakesh with each other, their relationship grew, leading to a lot of time together and trips across Europe. Stef’s most prominent memory being her holidays as a child to Barcelona, something which she wanted Neil to experience too. This eventually led to a potential career move for Stef, joining King in Barcelona.
“It came down to me. Do I want to move to this beautiful country with this girl I’m in love with? Taking a chance, even though I didn’t have work lined up for me? Of course I went!” Neil reminisced. Everything was peachy for a while, living together in their amazing roof terrace apartment overlooking a beautiful city, but Neil was struggling to find the right role.
“I had to get back to work. Opportunities weren’t panning out and I couldn’t have this huge gap on my CV. It came to a point where I had to look elsewhere.”
Things began looking likely for a move to Stockholm for Neil, with invites to visit and multiple positive interviews. Desperate not to be torn apart, Stef contacted her HR manager asking about the potential for a transfer to the Stockholm studio. There was an opening about to close, so within three days she’d signed and secured her new role in Sweden to join Neil… except his new job was now going to be in Poland.
“It was a crappy situation and it very much wasn’t planned.” says Stef on them both ending up in different countries. “It was very much a last resort for both of us. I was now tied into this contract thinking “Why am I in Stockholm? I really don’t want to be in Stockholm!” This is about when I started speaking with Max at Aardvark, who said “Hey I have this position in Guildford’’”
Guildford potentially seemed a great solution, as that’s where Neil’s family lived. Usually Stef didn’t reply to recruiters as in the past and had always applied for her own roles. “I think you guys were something special. I wouldn’t go looking for another recruitment agency because Max and Sol have been amazing!’ enthused Stef.
We’re pretty sure one of the most important things to consider when looking for a new role is that it’s the right fit for you. Having previously worked at King, Stef’s art style was really fun, working on a lot of the cutesy characters that leave you feeling all fuzzy inside, which Stef was clear about from the start.
“I don’t want to go somewhere and find out they’re doing a hyper realistic WW2 shooter or something and be completely out of space” When Max talked to her more about what studio was was going for, things started looking up as they were working on some of Stef’s favorite games.
“Max put me in touch with my potential new boss for a quick get-to-know-you chat, and we ended up talking until 10pm – even after that first call I was like yeah, this company feels right to me’’
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Stef, even though she is an amazing artist I think we’re all guilty of feeling a little insecure
“Without Max I probably never would’ve moved to Guildford or gone for the job because It was a lead artist position and I always think I’m not good enough. He encouraged me to just try and it really worked out!” Sometimes people can be ready for that step up without realizing it, chances are if you’re working at incredible AAA studios you’re pretty awesome already, so believe in yourself!
After Stef managed to secure her new position the race was now on to help Neil, we really didn’t want them to be apart!
“Waking up, coming home and going to sleep without Stef being there has been absolute agony’’ It pulled on everyone’s heart strings at Aardvark, we really wanted to find him the right role so they could be together, the whole office began rooting for them.
“Sol at Aardvark was really great and proactive at chasing up companies, opening doors and getting them to speak with me” says Neil. “He got me speaking to a company on the Monday, invited to visit them on the Wednesday and then they practically hired me on the spot!”
It worked! Neil managed to land a new job at a studio just a few miles away from Stef’s and we’re so happy for them both!
“We’re going for the whole shebang, saving up for a deposit to buy a house together! This industry can be so volatile and I’ve worked at so many studios because of the way things are, I never dreamed of being able to do this with someone.” says Neil. “The fact I could do it with Stef makes everything worth it.”
I’ve even heard that there may be a new addition of a Pomeranian named Pom on the cards!
And they all lived Happily Ever After…