Michael Abrash may not have done his post on the things Valve is looking for in potential employees yet, but another source came up: Valve's Handbook for new employees. As the title suggests, it's supposed to help new employees understand how things work at Valve. That includes tips on how to approach hiring, because as always employees are free to do what they feel is best, which includes the hiring process.
They've got quite the requirements, but that's understandable given their lack of hierarchy and the high individual responsibility - not everyone can work that way and people who can't may cause substantial damage.
To work at Valve I should be:
- A generalist, i.e. highly skilled at a lot of things. I may not exactly be "highly skilled", but I've sure got a broad range of experience: Modelling, animation, a little image editing, some electronics, webdesign and databases, drawing, basic video editing, crafting, cooking, mathematics, ... But yeah, I'm not exactly highly skilled in most of those.
- An expert, i.e. one of the best at something. Compared to my other skills I'm an expert at coding and maybe to a lesser extent software design, but on an absolute scale I'm advanced at best. Uni will help, but I'll only become an expert through actual experience.
- Better than the existing employees. Not necessarily in general but in some field. Haha. As if. Getting better than the best ones there at, say, coding would require a lot of learning. And the best place to learn new things is arguably Valve, so they'd likely only strengthen their lead.
- Collaborative. I guess I fit that, although I have little experience of working on real projects in teams. Still, it's the trait Valve values above all so I may have a chance yet. If everybody who's better than me can't collaborate. Haha.
- Productive. Well, I can be lazy at times, but when I work I do get things done, don't I? I just wrote an implementation of the Spriter file format for SFML in a day, although that's of course in part thanks to the simplicity of both the format and SFML. The goal was to be able to use it in Ludum Dare. Why am I not doing that right now?
So in conclusion I'm not someone they'd hire on the spot, but I may have a chance. But who am I to say that? In order to get a better opinion I just contacted Valve, asking whether they'd evaluate me and give me some tips on how I should improve in the coming years so I can join them after uni. I'll also try to talk to them some more at Gamescom, maybe do a dummy-interview, though that won't work spontaneously. I'll have to see about that.