The Merits of Volunteer Positions in eSports
As eSports continues to grow, interest in working in the emerging field grows alongside it. One of the more common ways to become involved in professional eSports is to begin as a volunteer and work your way up. This system has been heavily criticized by people in and outside of the scene and there are certainly options to monetize your content here, on GAMURS. It’s easy to brush these positions aside; who would want to work and not get paid for it? As someone who has worked their way up from a volunteer to a full-time analyst, I would like to shed some light on why these positions are a positive for the scene at this point-in-time.
The main reason teams look for volunteers is simple: there aren’t many metrics with which to judge candidates for your position. Unless you are an established analyst in the scene with references, you likely don’t have much of a resume. I came into my volunteer position with a portfolio of articles I had written and had published online, including some I had been paid for at GAMURS; but that portfolio doesn’t tell a team all the information that they need to know. Questions such as “How quickly can this person complete assignments?”, or “How does this person interact with players and can they teach in an effective manner?” aren’t answered by most portfolios, even if you can display an excellent amount of game knowledge. In addition, throwing someone with no experience into a professional team can be negative for both sides. Between coaching staff requests, questions from players and watching other leagues to maintain your knowledge of the meta, analysts wind up working quite a bit, and not everyone is ready for the time commitment required by top tier teams. The situation becomes negative for both parties if someone can’t handle that workload; the team has to look for someone else, the analyst may have lost any good references they may have had. Volunteer positions allow new analysts to ease their way into the job and learn at a slower pace.
In addition to being beneficial to the team, volunteer positions can be a net positive for the analyst, as long as they follow a few guidelines when making their decision to apply for a volunteer position. The first is to know what you want coming in. When I came into my position, I knew that I was with the right team for me, and I knew that if I worked hard enough I could become a professional analyst. But that isn’t going to be the case for everyone. Sometimes your goal could just be to have a great reference when you look for a team you’d want to stay with long term, or your goal could be to learn if an analyst position is right for you. All of these things are fine, as long as it is what you think is the right thing for you. Don’t force yourself to stay with a team with no possibility of advancement forever if you’re looking for a full time job in esports.
The next guideline is to know when to walk. It’s easy to get roped into promises of contracts and full time jobs, but sometimes this isn’t going to happen. If your management isn’t clear about the potential, or has betrayed your trust, re-evaluate whether staying with them is the best thing. In my experience, I came in expecting to get a good reference. I was never promised a full time job or a contract; but I wanted to work my way up. Eventually, when they needed a new full time analyst, I was towards the top of the list. If you are in a volunteer position and you are told you will get a contract eventually only for it never to come into fruition, it may be a good idea to begin looking for other options. In other words, make sure you trust the coaching staff and management of the team you are working for.
With these guidelines in mind, there is a lot to gain from these positions. Just like an unpaid internship, the end goal is to gain experience, make connections, and figure out whether this is truly what you want to do. With that being said, building your portfolio on GAMURS is a great way to develop your ability to analyze and monetize your content. Sure, working for a team without getting paid for it is a risky move, but until the eSports scene develops more and there are better metrics to evaluate job applicants, working a volunteer is one of the most effective ways to launch your career.