Employment-League

Written by Weedmonkey on January 22, 2011




Today, I want to take a look at a different aspect of Magic-League and MTG in general. Of the articles I've written for Magic-League, the vast majority of them pertain to either elements of Magic-League or MTG strategy. What I haven't explored yet is how Magic-League relates to the wider world we live in - there are a number of skills stemming from Magic-League and MTG that have applications out there in the real world.

So Roo, what HAVE you been doing for the past three and a half months?

Shh voice in my head, I'm getting to that. This article I want to make accessible to everyone. However, for those considering on either becoming a judge or moving up in the Magic-League world, there will be a lot of information here that will directly relate to Magic-League. For everyone else, I'll be providing what insight and reflection I can to the application process, so that you can improve in your own employment endeavours :).

Roo's Job Quest

Back in September, positions opened for the position of Australian United Nations Youth Ambassador. Having decided only a matter of weeks before that I would take 12 months' leave from studying, I decided to get in on the application process. As someone who feels very strongly about social justice and equality, I saw the position as a fantastic opportunity to get my foot in the door while I determined if I would or wouldn't walk away from teaching (that story could take up an entire article on its own). If I did, then I'd have a career that I would love to move into. If I didn't, then at least I had a bearing in which to go.

The application process was divided into three stages; a brief expression of interest, a longer essay-style application, and a formal interview. Only a select number of applicants would progress through to each of the following stages.

Stage One: Expression of Interest

The first stage was four short-answer questions totalling 200 words each. The questions themselves were very broad in focus - an Expression of Interest is designed for the candidate to introduce themselves to the employer and show that they are serious about the position.

For this position, the questions I was given were:

  • What experience do you have in the field of youth advocacy and youth representation?

This is a very basic question. Due to the scope of the position, they want someone who has some idea of what's entailed, as well as someone who can show dedication to the position.

Strategy: For anyone asking about experience, every little bit counts - what matters is how you see that experience in helping you in the position you're applying for. For me, I didn't have a great depth in experience. However, I could show that I was enthusiastic about this line of work, and as such I see this position as one step into a career in this area.

  • How comfortable do you feel working with youth organisations and other non-government organisations such as the United Nations Youth Association Australia INC. in representing the young people of Australia to the UN?

This is your teamwork/collaboration question. Here, your employer wants to know if you can work in a group. From the lowliest McDonalds restaurant to the most dominating multinational corporation, being able to Play Nice With OthersTM ensures a smooth workplace.

Strategy: Being able to provide practical examples in an application is always a bonus. In fast food outlets like McDonalds, you're regularly interacting with customers as well as the other staff. My experience in teaching played well into this point, as teaching requires significant teamwork with other staff. For Magic-League, judges and staff also work regularly together in consultation, planning and plain 'ol favor asking.

  • What personal attributes believe best prepare you for this position?

This is where they want to get to know you better. Be honest - generic claptrap like 'I'm a great listener' isn't doing yourself any favors.

Strategy: There are a lot of skills here that can be utilised:

  • Developing Strategy and Effective Planning: MTG can be a great resource here. MTG teaches you to think in advance and calculate risks (something that is valuable in the finance sector - ask Jamie Parke). It isn't overly difficult to adapt these skills to other areas.
  • Communication: This is one of the points I used in my answer. As a judge on Magic-League, you're regularly called on to settle disputes, pass information on to other judges and staff, and consult with each other on rulings.
  • Collaboration: Contrary to the belief of some, we staff don't sit around sipping martinis and getting fanned by beautiful women every day :P. We do regularly consult and collaborate with each other when we look to improve Magic-League or develop a solution to an issue we want to address. This isn't solely the domain of staff though - regular judges and players do come to us occasionally regarding something they want help with or want to do. That was how the Floor Rules document was born.
  • Dispute Resolution: Judges do this every day, and after a while you begin to get pretty good at it with the right attitude. The best judges on Magic-League in my opinion are those that show the greatest patience. Judges who give their ruling and then shut down the player when they begin to disagree aren't as effective as those who take the time to explain their ruling in increasing detail. I'm not talking about high-level judges here either - I've seen a lot of J1s who have excellent skills in this area.

There are more than the ones listed above, but these are some of the most significant. Being able to provide concrete examples also can go a long way in backing you up.

  • What method or style of youth consultation do you envision taking on to most accurately represent Australian youth to the UN?

This question serves two goals - the first is to show that you have the right ideas for the position and aren't completely off base. The second goal is to show that you can bring something different and unique to the position.

Strategy: Show off your unique skills here if you can. For me, one of the angles I took to it was social networking sites and internet forums in addition to emphasising different approaches for different groups.

If you wanted to play on your experience with M-L or MTG, try focusing on the international side of Magic-League. We have people from around the world here, and being able to bring up how you solve issues such as language barrier problems goes a long way.

Stage Two: Long Written Application

This is pretty much a fancy way of saying essay. Loved by American tertiary institutions, essays are often the tool of preference for separating the wheat from the chaff.

For this stage of the application, I was given another four questions with a maximum of 3500 words, and a guideline of 2900. The questions were largely focused on practical skills that will be required in the position, and very open-ended in scope.

As a teacher, I don't normally like planning essays as they're normally drab and boring. Also, there are normally far better ways to assess learning for students at the levels I teach (ages 5-12). However, essays such as this one are aimed at letting your employer know who you are and what you're about. You should be aiming to show them both part of yourself and demonstrate that you have the skills necessary to fulfill the position well.

For example, in one question I was asked to write a submission to the Council of Australian Governments on the importance of youth representation. Having a look at the Council's website, I saw that a good method of structuring documents for the Council included a list of Key Questions, followed by answers for each question. This gave me excellent guidance on structuring my own answer.

Some key tips I would give are:

  • Organise, organise, organise. Structuring your responses and using formatting (headings, bullet points, highlighting) goes a very long way in improving the overall look of your application. You want it to look professional. Too flowery and it looks childish. Too little, and it looks like a wall of text. Like with art, chocolate and fine wine, often less is more. Also, structure makes writing your responses far easier.
  • Add a bit of you into your answers. One of the most important things I learned throughout this process was that you want to show that you are a person who wrote this application. When there's you and over 9000 other people applying for a position, you need to stand out and be noticed. Adding a personal edge allows you to emotionally connect to the person reading your application.
  • After completing it, leave it alone for a couple of days. It's amazing what your brain does in the background. When you come back to it, you'll look at it with fresh eyes. You can then start tearing it apart and improving it :D.

And after that comes...

Stage Three: The Interview

No matter how impressive you look on paper, this is the one shot you get to show your employer that you're who they want. Generally, the interview is to show that personally you're the right person for the job, and to make sure that everything you've put on paper up to this point stands up to scrutiny.

It can be difficult to quickly build rapport with your interviewer, especially if you struggle with public speaking or are put off by the unusual atmosphere of an interview. If this is the case, or if your interviewer doesn't make you feel at ease, you just have to do the best you can.

For me, I put a lot of preparation in advance for my interview. I made sure that my cover letter and CV were both as good as I could make them. I did a couple of mock interviews with various people, and I knew what to expect despite it being my first interview thanks to the huge amount of support I had. I walked into the interview room, and everyone seemed friendly enough. I was looking forward to showing them that I was the best person for the job.

And then the first question came, and all my preparation went out the window.

It was akin to staring down Emrakul with a lowly Mountain Goat. All my practice, all of my experience as a teacher and talking to other people disappeared. Sometimes it happens. For me, it did. I didn't ever get back on track. While I managed to avoid stuttering (a problem that has persisted on occasion from childhood), I managed to pause mid-sentence on more than one occasion while trying to find the right words. I was rigid, I was robotic. I wasn't able to display the personal qualities I have, and I certainly didn't demonstrate everything I portrayed myself on paper.

So it was a nice punt Roo?

It was a spectacular punt. In saying that though, I learned a lot coming out of that interview.

  • Take three seconds before you answer. It doesn't have to be three seconds, but the point is to just stop and breathe before formulating your answer. Your brain works in the background, and taking the time can help you to improve the quality of your answer.
  • Details, details. You are a person. You have a life with experiences that have shaped you. Use these to show who you are. Some things may seem silly to you (like saying you're a staff member on Magic-League), but they can all help give your points so much more substance.
  • Be honest. This is one point that I've been told repeatedly you shouldn't do. However, I believe that you need to take a line of honesty, even if you have to attack the truth from a different angle. For me, the whole plastic fantastic sugar-coat all my answers and act like it's a beauty pageant just doesn't work. If employers are expecting you to lie, then there is a serious issue with the entire interview culture. Be yourself - the real you is far better than any image of you that you think people like more.

So Roo, what about those who want to use M-L in their job interviews and applications?

I suppose I did go into a lot of detail up there. What I'll try to do now is link the example I've given to M-L and MTG.

Magic-League and your CV

Although Magic-League is a gaming site, we are also a community with dedicated volunteers who give up their time to help improve Magic-League for everyone. You can call judging on Magic-League a volunteer position, or an unpaid position, but either way you are developing skills and gaining experience judging on here. Being a judge on here isn't a job, but as I mentioned above, there are a lot of skills that you can use. One example:

Magic-League.com (2011-Present)

Judge: Level Two

Responsibilities:

  • Organising and operating tournaments for a number of players (up to and beyond 128 players)
  • Resolving disputes between players
  • Mentoring new volunteers
  • Working with the team of volunteers to resolve any issues that arise

That's off the top of my head, but as you can see there are a number of skills that you gain while working on Magic-League. Employers like people who can show that they can work well collaboratively - a trait I also like to see in our higher-level judges. While I can't speak from an employer point of view, I do have a perspective as a judge who helps oversee the team of volunteers Magic-League has.

Volunteering on Magic-League

Although judges are the most visible volunteers for Magic-League, they aren't the only ones. Up until the middle of last year, I was working with three other people on developing the coverage area of Magic-League. While they all had to leave for their own reasons, the team has done more in the past twelve months for Magic-League coverage than there has been done in the years since coverage first came to fruition. In the forums, Engrishskill became a moderator for his dedication there. Since then, he's made a vast improvement to the Decks forum and given it more structure and guidance than it's ever had before. It's volunteers such as these that are valuable - and for Engrishskill or any other volunteer I would more than happily write a reference for them if they asked for one.

If you want to volunteer and can't pass the judge test (or aren't interested in judging), ask where you can help! As I've said before, it's the community that makes this place great - and if the community wants to help make this place great I'm only more than happy to help any way I can.

Famous Last Words

So Roo, how does this story end?

Am I going to get the position I've put my heart and soul into for the past three and a half months? Nope. I didn't demonstrate during the interview the personal qualities needed for the position (one of the strengths in my application) - and that's okay. I learned a lot about myself professionally throughout the process, and from here I can grow. What I will do is email the Vice President of the association responsible for the position and seek further work. Having progressed this far in the selection process, they should be able to point me in the right direction.

I'd also like to take this time to thank everyone who has supported me in this endeavour. There are a lot of people who believe in me and have given me a hell of a lot of support and advice, and I really appreciate it. I'd also like to give a special thanks to Farseer for the countless hours of advice and support throughout this process (and no doubt the amount of desks that heads were put through).

While this article is a bit more left of field than what I usually write, I hope people can come away with a new perspective on Magic-League and how it can apply to them in a professional context.

- Roo

Back to Magic: the Gathering Articles

Comments:
by sol02 on 2011-01-22 07:43 CET

wat i dont even-


by on 2011-01-22 10:25 CET

Pity you didnot get that position. It would have been a great opportunity for you and your professional career. I consider it lucky though for magic-league, because what would we do without you :)

Greetz Nico


by Farseer on 2011-01-22 13:59 CET

Sorry to hear that you didn't get the position but I was more than happy to help. Just a few comments regarding what you mentioned above:

"I managed to pause mid-sentence on more than one occasion while trying to find the right words." -- Rushing answers and giving ill-considered replies is a problem. Pausing to consider what you wish to say, even mid-sentence, is not.

"I was rigid, I was robotic. I wasn't able to display the personal qualities I have" -- Ok, that is a bit of a problem. I think the make-up of the interview panel was what threw you here.

"I certainly didn't demonstrate everything I portrayed myself on paper." -- Again, that isn't a problem. It would take an interview several hours to cover even just the basic points on someone's CV in detail. The important thing here is that you do direct the interviewers to cover the most relevant/important aspects of your CV.

"[Do not] Be honest" -- Who advised you not to be honest??? That is terrible advice. The purpose of an interview is to let the interviewers see your skill set by providing stories to back up each point you make. There is absolutely no need to lie, or even sugar coat, if you are confident in your ability.


by Bob_A_Wilson on 2011-01-22 14:52 CET

Roo, you would have made a great ambASSador +D


by CamSullivan on 2011-01-22 23:10 CET

Great article, thanks for sharing.

That being said, I don't think I would ever list Magic-League on my resume.


by on 2011-01-23 12:24 CET

It is appreciated when you show any organisational and leadership skills in any field. Look at it this way: if you are organising a big benefit concert for the homeless ppl in your town, would you put it on your resume?
The only difference between them is the target audience. In doning things like that, you show initiative, and a natural capacity and drive to get things up and running, wich is a highly valued capacity in many places.

Greetz Nico


by Sebas_ on 2011-01-24 07:22 CET

tl;tr&dgaf

<3
Still good luck at United Nations


by TehDudeAbide on 2011-01-24 15:10 CET

Gay Aussie Represent!

YoYoYo!


by snorlaxcom on 2011-01-24 22:27 CET

I was wondering the same thing. If something you do for recreation, but have a leadership role is something worthy of a resume slot? I am the president of my university's gaming club and organize local shops to stop by for a biannual convention for gaming(including magic) that the whole student body can enjoy. Or do you only put stuff that has that different target audience like you mentioned?


by on 2011-01-25 00:05 CET

I have put magic-league on my resume, and it has always been interesting to people.
When an interview didnot result in a job, i always tried to contact the HR person to ask the reasoning behind me being turned down, and as meany reasons as were given, magic-league was never mentioned. In fact in one or two cases it was magic-league that kept me in the running longer.


by Weedmonkey on 2011-01-25 04:42 CET

snorlaxcom, I'd put it on :) nico's point about only the target audience differing is excellent. One thing I learned throughout this process is that what's most important is that you can demonstrate skills and experience - although you may feel a stigma on putting experience in this area on your resume, it IS an example of your skills and experience


by thedarkness on 2011-01-29 10:28 CET

I've also got some pennies to contribute to the target audience bank...

Out in Portland, I went through a job-hunting workshop, and the biggest piece of resume advice I got there resulted in me having a (currently) five page resume, which I copypasta into Word and cut out the irrelevant bits from, depending on what the job is.

If I had anything useful to put on my resume from M-L, it would be on my master resume without a doubt.

Edit: I wouldn't count yourself out of the running yet, as per what Farseer said. It's probably best to let yourself be pleasantly surprised if you do get the job, but I've been stiff in interviews that led to me being hired before, once even over someone I thought seemed more qualified AND personable. Of course, I might be missing some timeline information, like "this interview took place 3 weeks ago and the position was filled."

AAAAAAAAAANYWAY, I don't have the faintest idea why I'm still awake.


by Koen on 2011-02-06 23:51 CET

Great article, even for a Finance number cruncher like me :)
You give good advice and show a real understanding of selection processes that will no doubt be useful later on in your life.


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