To Judge, or Not to Judge.
In 2011, I was working as a Game Designer at a large, well reputed IT company in Karachi, Pakistan. This was my first job out of college, and it had only been 11 months since I started working there.
We had a 3 story office with more than 500 employees. I had a lot friends and the culture was amazing! We had great perks and benefits; game room, free lunches, medical, bonuses, picnics, trips, trainings, you name it. The work was alright, but I liked my job and I was happy!
One day quite randomly, I got an email from a gaming company for an interview. I thought, I work at a great company and I’m not looking to switch, but what’s the harm in giving an interview? I’ll at least get to assess my market value. So I go ahead and schedule an interview for after work, later that week.
Fast forward to the day of the interview, I reach the venue and I see a tall, kind of deserted office-building, the entrance of which was through a shady back alley. This was during winter by the way, and it was quite dark and there were no street lights. I go in, and the building was extremely dim lit. There seemed to be a power outage. I think to myself… uhm, okay.
Just to be sure, I call the person who is supposed to be interviewing me to confirm if they’re still around, or if I was even at the right place — because I really wasn’t sure if that building was even inhabited. He responds yes, and that they’re waiting for me.
Now here I am, after dark, standing in a shady back alley of a building with almost no light, for an interview of a job I didn’t even want. Not to mention, this was Karachi, a city with a pretty high crime rate back in the day. I was scared, I did not really want to go in that building. I thought I’d make an excuse and leave, but then I decided I was here already, so I might as well go through with it. Before I go in though, I actually called my brother just to tell him my location, and say, “Hey! If you don’t hear from me in 45 minutes — come and get me.”
I go in and locate this small little office at the farthest end of the hallway on the 8th floor. The entire place was no bigger than a small living room. Lots of furniture crammed in the a very tiny space and I just think to myself… oh my god.. what am I doing here..
I get seated and start talking to the CEO who looked no older than a recent graduate himself. Turns out, it was a small game development startup with a team of total seven guys. The office was very small, very shabby. Throughout my conversation with the CEO I kept looking at my watch, waiting for this to be over so I could get out.
Not 10 minutes into the interview, I kid you not — I feel water touching my feet. I look around and notice the entire office floor had gotten flooded! The CEO got up and apologized, saying “I’m so sorry, our bathroom tank ends up overflowing sometimes”. I see two of the engineers get up from their stations and scramble around looking to clean up.
While this madness is happening, I take a moment to go back to cursing myself, “Rumaisa! What were you thinking?! You shouldn’t be wasting your time interviewing at a place like this. You should have at least done a little more research about them online!”
Anyhow, I try to be respectful and wait for the CEO to get back. Surprisingly enough, I had a pretty decent conversation with him after. Though I still kept looking at my watch — until, he showed me their portfolio, and the games they were working on.
What I saw on that screen, being a designer and an illustrator; the beautiful graphics, the seamless animations, the vibrant colors, the flawless movements, and the top notch game development quality.. it mesmerized me. I was in awe. I had not seen this high quality game design at any of the local companies. I forgot about the shady back alley, the dark and dim lit building, the tiny shabby space, and the flooded office.. all I knew in that moment was that I wanted to be a part of the team that produced that flawless portfolio.
Two days later, I got a job offer from them — but they were a startup, they could offer absolutely no benefits or perks. After all I had witnessed about that company two days ago, could I even be serious about considering this offer? Well, I decided to do what felt right.
I accepted the offer.
By far that has been one of the best professional decisions of my life. That small startup accelerated my learning and growth, provided me with lots of exposure and opportunities, enabled me step up in life, come out of my comfort zone, and make decisions for the right reasons.