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Talking Talent with Make Real

We caught up with some of the team at Make Real to take a look behind-the-scenes to find out what they look for when recruiting new staff. They’re currently growing their team and are looking for some fresh faces to join them, including a Senior Unity Developer, Senior Immersive Learning Designer and Project Coordinator!

So, if you're interested in working for an award-winning studio that create state-of-the-art immersive experiences, read on...
 

What do you look for in a prospective employee for your team?

There are a number of factors we take into consideration when looking for prospective employees for the team here at Make Real. Firstly, skill set related to the area of development that they would be working in, mostly design, art and code areas.

For design, we look for candidates with a mix of experience in interaction and learning design; traditional screen-based content has been finely honed over the years to fit a series of patterns and templates that often have to get thrown out of the window when working with or designing for VR and more immersive technologies. However, a solid understanding of UX and some knowledge and understanding of design for immersive experiences is always appreciated. A portfolio of experiments or prototypes would help, or a range of blog posts exploring UX for immersive technologies would be beneficial.

We also look for those who have experience of developing traditional eLearning content, as most of our projects are based around learning and development, training and simulation - so whilst the application differs, the terminology and methodologies can still be applied. So, we look to those wishing to break out of the dual-axis nature of screen-based work and want to expand in 360°.

However, code also covers a range of aspects like networking, to allow more than one user to be present in a virtual space together at one time, or a solid simulation of a real-world asset or system, requiring complex 3D maths and physics coded to replicate realistically what the user needs to be interacting with effectively, with the desired and expected outcomes of correct, and incorrect input/s.

In terms of developing for hardware, we are fairly hardware agnostic as a whole, with the design solution driving the appropriate choice of technology deployed rather than leading decisions. We look for developers who have some experience of creating high-performing, optimised experiences for some or all of the following: standalone VR (Oculus Quest, Vive Focus Plus etc), full VR (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive etc), mobile AR (ARKit, ARCore, Vuforia etc) and headset AR (HoloLens, Magic Leap etc).

Sometimes the solution will determine that the latest immersive upper scale hardware is not the right solution so we still look for developers with experience of creating 2D and 3D applications for tablet and mobile devices (Android and iOS).

For project coordination, it takes a lot of skill and organisation to keep all the various moving parts spinning and on track, but also enthusiasm for variety as there’s many parts to the role that can’t easily be determined upfront. Whilst you don’t have to be able to wrangle a high-pressure hose, sometimes a bit of fire-fighting skills are necessary when events, clients, deployments and milestones all collide, demanding attention at the same time! Of course though there is a network of people around to help and provide guidance; our Head of Delivery is the main conductor of the immersive virtual orchestra.

Skill sets aside, we look for candidates with a passion for getting the best out of technology and using its behavioural change and positive impact upon the users.

However, that passion shouldn’t mean they burn themselves out and work all hours to deliver; we have a strong belief in a positive work/life balance to ensure that we all have a happy, healthy work approach and life outside, away from the studio and project work. Many of the team have entirely unrelated hobbies, such as playing professional-level classical instruments, beach volleyball, writing, D&D and even lawn-mower racing.
 

What opportunities are there for someone to develop at Make Real?

Now is a great time to join Make Real in terms of opportunities to grow in the mid/long-term. We took some investment into the studio a couple of years ago and this has really helped shape and solidify our development processes but as always, there’s room to improve and continue our upward trend of even greater successes.

Whilst still carrying out the typical day-to-day project work for clients and partners, we created an internal R&D team to start exploring ways Make Real can create our own IP products and brands utilising emerging immersive technologies. Whether it be within the growing marketplace for consumer applications and experiences, in- or out-of-home or Off-The-Shelf enterprise training products that offer specialist training content for corporate, education establishments and those looking to expand their skill sets with construction, health & safety, well-being and many other sectors. Their first products are starting to be deployed to customers and it will be an integral part of the company future direction moving forwards.

There’s likely to be numerous product teams spun out within the studio which will all have their own unique set of challenges, requirements and leadership opportunities.

We offer the ability to attend relevant events to hear from specialists in the fields we operate within, or even be a speaker and present your knowledge to a similarly eager set of eyes and ears. Training budgets are allocated for each person to spend time attending courses or expanding upon specific areas related to their role, present or future, within the relevant immersive sectors.

The senior team have all been at Make Real for 5+ years but have also worked for some of the biggest organisations within the training and simulation, television and gaming sectors. Whilst the seniors can assist with estimates and sensible solutions based upon experience, that’s not to say the juniors aren’t able to get involved and promote their own thoughts and angles to a particular problem that needs solving.
 

Meet some of the team

Ellie Watts, Production Assistant 

What is your position and how would you describe a typical working day?

A typical day as a Production Assistant can vary greatly over the different areas that make up our production team. One day I am testing our latest apps for bugs, another day I am organizing delivery of equipment and another I am demoing our apps at a big London event. I also set up and maintain the devices we use, making sure they are ready and available whenever they are needed. When we have a fully-fledged experience, I then record and document the app using video capture for use in cheat sheets, trailers, and showcasing.

In the meantime, I get to learn about everything that goes into making immersive and engaging simulations, including coding, 3D modelling, and motion capture.
 

What experience or qualifications do you need for the role?

When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress, so at college I studied a BTEC in Performing Arts and performed at many shows and venues. Alongside this, I grew up drawing, tinkering with computers and playing games. At university, I combined my skills into studying Animation and created a VR experience for my final year project. By taking the time to learn the fundamentals of VR, I gained a better understanding of a user’s behaviour and what felt comfortable within VR.
 
A lot of my time is spent setting up VR environments and troubleshooting when they have issues. Experience working with Windows, video editing software, VR and AR devices is very important.
 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Being a Production Assistant means no one day is the same. I am challenged every day to tackle new and interesting issues. Finding solutions and having a hand in fixing these issues feels great.

 

Alan Stewart, Learning Designer

What is your position and how would you describe a typical working day?

I’m a Learning Designer at Make Real, which means my days can be pretty varied. Some days I’m writing project documentation while others I’m playtesting builds and speaking to clients. I also might grab a mic, from time to time, and partake in some impromptu audio recording. As someone who subscribes to the 'variety is the spice of life' belief, I love having a job where no two days are the same.
 

What experience or qualifications do you need for the role?

Prior to this role, I was a Learning Designer at LEO: an eLearning company in Brighton. And, before that, a teacher. My time in the classroom gave me a solid grasp of the principles underpinning effective learning design and this was then further enhanced during my time at LEO. Additionally, LEO taught me a great deal about working with corporate clients and the processes by which digital learning experiences are made. (I’ve also got an MA in Games Design: probably not a necessity for this role, but it really helps and was a fantastic life experience.)
 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Rightly or wrongly, learners seem to approach VR with more of an open mindset than traditional eLearning, often leading to moments of genuine delight once the experience has been deployed, which I love.


If you like the sound of working at Make Real, you can check out all of their latest job roles here.
 

Plus, don't forget to register for your free ticket to our digital, media and tech Jobs Fair on 29th April, part of this year's Talent Fest 2020. 

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