October 23, 2020

6 Min Read

inside ubisoftbipoc

BIPOC of Ubisoft - Ellie Vengala

I’m an only child, and my family has this pack of suitcases that have come with us to every single location we’ve moved since I was nine years old. I went to two different elementary schools, two different middle schools, and two different high schools (filling out my college applications took a while). I think those suitcases held up better than I ever did after each move.

[UN] [News] BIPOC of Ubisoft - Ellie Vengala - Ellie

Coming of age is difficult, period. Coming of age as an immigrant in America? It was the worst. All you want to feel as a teenager is a sense of belonging, and you never get that as an immigrant. Every single time I have to fill out an application, I have to bring along a folder (my father has one for each of us: his is blue, my mother’s green, and mine is orange. I hate orange). This folder contains forms and pages and pages proving that I am allowed to be in this country, despite the fact that I was born somewhere else. Despite the fact that I’ve lived here for most of my life, and have given up my first language, and remember almost nothing of my early childhood.

I learned very early on that there was no place I belonged to. In this country, I am a “Non-Residential Alien,” but first and foremost, I’m a person, and just like any other person, I belong here and everywhere. More than anything, I belong to myself. So, before I made any large decision, whether it be applying to college or applying to a job, I ask myself this question: Who are you living for, if not yourself?

This was the question I asked myself before I applied for the Public Relations internship at Ubisoft on LinkedIn. I knew it was a longshot – the site mentioned that there were some 600-plus applicants. But I knew I owed it myself to apply, even if I didn’t get the position. Just by sending that application, I was reaffirming that I believed in myself. For me, that was worth just as much as a call for an interview. Applying for jobs always feels like freefalling off a cliff. There’s almost nothing in your control after you send in your application, so having that faith in yourself means so much. It’s like the parachute that’ll keep you afloat until you take another leap of faith and send another application.

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To truly have faith in yourself, though, you have to learn what matters to you. I think it’s one of the most fulfilling journeys you could take. Since I’ve never found a place on earth that felt like it belonged to me, I’ve always been drawn to the fictional worlds: books and, yes, videogames. I enjoy movies and television, but I believe neither are as immersive as books and games. Your thoughts are fully occupied with the story you’re living in a book or a game – you believe in its existence. I love stories so much because I find pieces of myself in them, and they become a part of me as much as I’m part of them. This matters to me. I knew I had to work somewhere where stories were valued, and I can’t believe I ended up in a place where some of my favorite stories are valued.

[UN] [News] BIPOC of Ubisoft - Ellie Vengala - Note
A note I wrote to myself before my video interview. I highly recommend writing letters of affirmation to yourself. Who else, if not you? You’ve got to have your own back first.

I’m a big believer in immersing yourself in the things that speak to you, and I’d very recently become a moderator for the r/AssassinsCreed subreddit when I applied for the internship. I knew I would love every single aspect of it, and I did! I got to redesign parts of the subreddit – I even added a whole archive for Valhalla that spans 10 pages of information in a Word doc (yes, this is a flex). I love creating, and I most love creating for the things I love. This was part of the talking-to I had with myself about applying for my internship: in this small way, at least, I would still be a part of the game.

For me, any work you do is only fulfilling if it is a mirror to your existence. If you have a fulfilling part in what you do, then you never stop growing, learning, and changing through your work. I know not everyone can choose the jobs they work in, but I truly believe you can create things that fulfill you. After all, no one else knows what fulfillment you expect yourself. During my sophomore year, I worked an on-campus job that gave other students advice on how to choose classes, graduate, and more. It was doable, and I liked feeling helpful, but it felt repetitive after a while. So, I suggested that I create a pamphlet with instructions on how to graduate in four years, and that was the first of many projects I created during my three years at the job. I knew that I had to create to feel fulfilled, and that made my job something to look forward to.

[UN] [News] BIPOC of Ubisoft - Ellie Vengala - Ellie2

So, my advice is both a challenge and a request: always know what fulfills you. If you don’t know yet, take some time to figure it out. It’s okay. You only have the rest of your life!

I learned this lesson early on because I was forced to. I’ve had to prove that I wanted to exist in this country for long as I can remember. Even for something as simple as getting my driver’s license, I had to bring my I-20, passport, copies of my F-1 visa, my college transcript, Certificate of Admission, and more. You have to be prepared to defend your existence here, and I’ve had 11 years to think about why this is the best place for me.

Every time I return to this country, they ask me: “Why here?” I think everyone should have an answer to this question. My answer has always been: “Here is where I can study,” but for once, I’d like to answer it truly: “Here is the place I find the most fulfilling. Here is the place I’ve grown and changed for as long as I can remember. Here is the place I’ve learned to value myself. Here is where I belong, at least for now.”

BIPOC of Ubisoft will return next week. Be sure to check back at the Ubisoft News hub for the next story.

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