My internship at Ubisoft: The fairy tale of a childhood

Ubisoft, we grew up playing their games, or similar ones. In this digital age, they are part of our lives. We all had parties where all we did was gaming. It became more than an entertainment, it became mainstream.

When we were children, as we grew up, we visualized our future. Who we would be, where we would be and what we would do. When thinking about our future job, the idea of creating video games comes to everyone’s mind. It is widely viewed as a dream. If it’s not yours, it’s someone else’s. For those who eventually become developers and designers, working at Ubisoft seems like a fairy tale, the fairy tale of a childhood. A fairy tale I had the chance to live.

Sadly, it wasn’t my fairy tale.

Working on video games is not my dream. I would never enjoy what I worked on. I do not play video games. Well, sometimes. I am a social gamer. I play for the social, but I wouldn’t play it by myself. And even then, I’d rather do something else most of the time.

It might not be my dream job, but working there was awesome. Starting from day one, I saw what I expected and I was amazed. People are passionate, hard working, and they aren’t all nerds. There is a lot to learn from them, starting from their attitude to their expertise.

Looking at all these faces, I thought, there are so many stories, so many experiences I need to know about.

What my internship looked like

As I started my internship, I mostly talked to my team. I didn’t have much reasons to talk to the other teams. Team leads talk a lot to each other to keep track of what is happening in the company, but developers and designers mostly stay with their partners.

At lunch, I saw what I expected and I was amazed. People were social, but most of the time, they were social on their computers. We had free access to all Ubisoft’s games. Headsets on, it’s game time. Gaming is part of the culture of Ubisoft, and it’s not going anywhere soon. People there are passionate about this.

Sadly, I’m not.

At this point, I told myself that even if I did enjoy working there, maybe it wasn’t for me. If I liked it, someone else would too, and he would also have enjoyed gaming with his mates. I didn’t like it, and as I had a busy time this winter, I preferred to complete other tasks instead of play with them. I wasn’t a social lunch mate.

My project at Ubisoft is the biggest one I had ever seen, or at least, worked on. Layers of abstraction were numberous and finding bugs and errors were a pain in the ass. I learned a lot and realized (even more) that these good programming practices we are taught, they are useful for these kind of projects (real and big projects), and that every task takes time to do, because it has to scale well.

This project would be used widely. I worked on a tool that would be used by most productions in the company. When leaving, I would tell myself that I did contribute to their biggest releases, as they used the software I was working on.

And I was proud of what I did. It required a general understanding of the whole project, which was a hard task in a short time. It also required good communication with my teammates, because even with good programming skills, I didn’t have time to understand everything. Every time I was in trouble, I had to determine who was the best person to help me do my job.

End of internship

My contract ended on april 15th. I knew I wouldn’t be done. There were many thing I wish I could have finished and yet, time was running out. I was proud of what I had done, but it was job unfinished, I wouldn’t see the future of my feature.

Happily, the week before that, my team lead asked me if I would like to extend my internship. To finish the task, and if I had time, to provide help on other features. This meant no vacations before my summer school semester. But I enjoyed what I was doing, I couldn’t leave this way.

I extended for two more weeks, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. We made many iterations of my feature, and we were hard at work at finding the best way to implement it. Looking back at what I’ve done initially, I‘m glad I extended. The job was good, but now it’s great. And as the new intern continues to work on my feature, it might even become awesome.

But I’ll never see the end of it. I’m not coming back.

Last day at work

As I was leaving, I thought about what I have done. I worked on one of many features of one of many tools used by developers and designers. I help make video games. But, this is not my passion. As much as I enjoyed it, I knew I was leaving for good. I’ll let someone else enjoy it even more. And I’ll work on something that truly passionates me.

As I was leaving, I was sad. Sad to leave such a nice team, a nice environment. I’ve met some other people there, and on my last day, they came to wish me good luck on my next projects. I was amazed at their honesty. I might be a little naive, but it truly was appreciated.

As I was leaving, I realized, there were so many people I didn’t have the chance to talk to. People who were working normally. It was a normal friday for them. They saw me walking as I prepared to go back home. They couldn’t care less. They actually had no idea who I was. I had no idea who they were either…

Looking at all these faces, I thought, there are so many stories, so many experiences I‘ll never know about.

Thanks to Ubisoft for the incredible experience. And now, I look forward to new amazing opportunities.

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