I have a complicated relationship with my job and pretty much all the jobs I’ve had in the past. Like anyone who studies the arts, my post college life was mostly spent jumping from one minimum wage job to the next. I currently have a job that on the one hand I am infinitely grateful for. I have health insurance. I still have a job, which in the midst of this pandemic is not something I take for granted. On the other hand, this job suuuuuucks. I don’t want to get into that too much here,because I guess apparently at some point I’m supposed to talk about video games. So I once again find myself on Indeed looking for something better. I draw from everything I’ve learned. My time working at a VR headset booth in the mall. My one day working at Macy’s before I quit. And all the time I spent playing Final Fantasy.
Honestly I got a bit of a late start to the Final Fantasy series. My first console was a GameCube, so not only did I miss out on the initial classic FF games, I missed the wave of PlayStation entries as well. But I have remedied that and gone back to quite a few of them. I have to say, overall my preference leans more towards the open ended job-based games than the tight narrative focused ones. A niche opinion for sure, but not an entirely unpopular one. I had a ton of fun with V and I’m currently playing through X partly because I do enjoy it and partly just because X-2 looks like it is going to be extremely up my alley. Every day I look myself in the mirror and tell myself that I’m not allowed to start playing XIV no matter how much I know I would love it, because it will absorb me and also the idea of subscriptions for games has always kind of bothered me. So what real world skills could I have possibly gotten from some old school rpgs?
Diversify early or you will have to grind
It’s totally ok to not know what you want to do. I still don’t know what I want to do. School can only prep you so much. You need to experience a few things before you can really figure out what clicks for you. But I would recommend trying to get that experimentation in early. If you max out a character as a white mage, but then decide you want to try branching into summoning you’re going to run into some trouble. You’ll likely be at a part of the game that’s not suited for a low level job so you either have to backtrack to an easier area or rely on the rest of the party to carry them. All the while, you’re just sitting on all that white magic you learned, letting it go to waste. I’m in what you would call an administrative position now, and as much as I would like to not do that anymore, it is where my skills lie. Transitioning to something else entirely would be a huge risk that would involve taking a serious pay cut. It’s not impossible or unheard of, but it does mean getting back to fighting rats and soldiers instead of undead gods and mythical beasts. You know, metaphorically speaking.
Some people are just naturally inclined to certain jobs
This one is actually less of a Final Fantasy thing and more of a general rpgs that are based on dnd thing. Most Final Fantasy games with jobs truly let any character take on any role. I think maybe XII tied stats to the characters. Also consider VI in which every character was basically just a staple final fantasy job given an expanded personality. All that to say, sometimes it’s clear that some people are just sort of better at certain things, and some things are just more useful than others. I bring this up as a job hunting tip because I really do believe that an important part of getting through all this is not comparing yourself to others. If you work super hard to get to a job you want only to find out there’s someone 10 years younger than you that’s been working there for a year, that’s ok. It doesn’t diminish anything that you’ve done. If I judged my success based off of how many people I went to college with have already paid off their student loans, I would probably just give up and live in a cave out of sheer disappointment. And as cliche as it may sound, your attitude is absolutely going to play a part in your career success. Everyone knows Umaro’s not the best character in Final Fantasy VI, but sometimes you just want to have fun whacking enemies with clubs and throwing your other party members at them, and when that’s what you want Umaro is absolutely your man… your yeti.
Take something with you when you move on
I think the thing that appeals to me most about the job system is that it really allows you to take what you like and what works best for you and combine it into something unique to you. This is something a lot of the games play with, but I think it’s most evident in Bravely Default which is a Final Fantasy game. Fight me about it. Every job gives you a massive list of skills, proficiencies, and passives that you can just jumble up together however you’d like to make one super character. It’s such an open system that unless you’re part of a group that wants to min max the most possible efficiency out it, you’re probably going to have a much different looking party than anyone else. That’s the secret of getting a job you want. Yeah, the job listing will let you know what skills they’re looking for, but that’s just the basics. If you really want to stand out, you need to show them what else you picked up. And it’s not always even things they realized they were looking for. I know just as much about Excel as everyone else, but I also had professional voice training and experience working with angry parents from my time working at kids parties, so that kind of made me the best choice to answer phones at a car dealership which is just where the angry parents direct their anger when their kids go to college. It feels almost nonsensical, but it really does come down to any little thing that can make the difference. Yeah, you got a cool knight there. Tanking damage and everything. What if you gave him the ninja’s dual wield so he can hold two shields. Now he’s got even more defense. He’ll never die. Nonsense, but just the right kind of nonsense to give you a little bit of an edge.
Take breaks or you will burn out
Final Fantasy games are long. I’ll admit that I probably got to the final dungeon of just as many games as I actually finished. I always try to go for 100% on my first run. I do usually end up looking things up, so I get that I’m not usually getting the full authentic experience. But I do try to be realistic about the fact that I’m probably not going to replay any of these games for a while. I want to make sure I see all the super bosses and secret summons. That does lead to a bit of burn out though. I said I was playing X right now. Truthfully I’ve been playing it for about the last week. Before that I think I hadn’t touched it since about February. I find it so easy to get engrossed in the experience that as soon as I’m able to break away from it, the idea of going back is daunting. I panic and move onto something else.
A brief side note: you do not owe your employers anything. They make compromises for you only because they are legally required to. In order to combat that, they will make you feel like your basic needs are a major inconvenience to them. They will keep you going until you experience that burnout, but in this case the options to move on are much more limited. If they give you the opportunity for a 10 minute break and an hour lunch (which again they are legally required to) you take it. I’m not overly pessimistic. I do acknowledge there’s plenty of small businesses where the people in charge want to know you and make your work experience a good one, but when you’re first looking for jobs there’s a good chance you’re going to spend some time working for a giant chain. Also please use your vacation days. It’s the same situation but just on a bigger scale. Saving them up is fine, but they truly do you no good if you never use them. If you use the tools you have to manage your burnout and don’t rush everything all at once, you can stay calm while you make that steady grind to unlock Yojimbo. I mean get a 401K.
Your job does not define you
I want to leave off with something specifically from V, the game with what is probably the most detailed and robust job system. That game feels like it really did find a way to get the best of both worlds. The characters are actual characters. Not just blank slates for you to customize. They’re not as fleshed out as later entries, but they’re still plenty endearing. What I think is important is that at no point does their job factor into who they are as characters. Sure, it’s probably a technical limitation. Creating unique dialogue for that many jobs back on the SNES sounds impossible. But the point still stands. I still like to think of myself as a creative. My job requires no creativity, but my job is not my identity. Part of that may sound a little defeatist. Like I’m telling you to just suck up your pride and take whatever job you can get. I actually find it comforting and a bit liberating. I don’t need to obsess over my career, because I know that it’s not the defining factor of my life. And don’t you also just sort of find that things come to you a lot easier once you stop actually caring about them. Remember, Faris is always going to be a pirate. Geomancy is just what she does to pay the bills.
Well, that was definitely the most personal thing I’ve written. I know there’s a lot of people that are probably looking for jobs right now. I would recommend also looking somewhere else for help with that. I am in no way an authority on any of this. Clearly I’m not even an authority on Final Fantasy. Has the experience of looking for a job been frustrating for you? Have you had any recent breakthroughs? Please share them with me. I’d love to be able to commiserate or celebrate accordingly. And as always, thank you for taking the time to read this.