Big news recently as Telltale Games, the developer of popular “story” games like The Wolf Among us and The Walking Dead, suddenly closed up shop. The decision has roiled the industry as well as the larger entertainment and business press, especially since the company cut everyone loose without offering anything in the way of severance pay.
The sudden nature of the announcement, along with the shoddy treatment of the workers, caused a lot of upset. As one former Telltale employee put it in a statement that went viral:
Cebanka makes an excellent point, especially considering how similar this situation is to what’s been faced by writers and editors at countless magazines, newspapers and websites in the last few years. Too many people have come to work or tried to log into their email only to find ownership has locked them out, either physically or digitally. At best, they can’t access what they were working on. At worst, the site has been completely removed without notice, robbing them of their ability to showcase their work for future employers.
But the Telltale example shows how advice to backup your work for your own usage is applicable to everyone, regardless of industry or type of work.
Save a copy of every presentation you put together, every case study you write, every client memo you send, every design you contribute to, every bit of material you create for a company. Backup your emails. Download your files. Save it all, whether you’re a freelancers, contractor or full-time employee.
You may never be able to publicly use any of it in a portfolio because of restrictions placed on that material by the company you created it for. That’s fine. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you have it and can reference it in job interviews, that you can access it when you’re creating something similar in your next gig and otherwise have it at your disposal.
Whatever your employment situation, there’s no guarantee you’ll have a job tomorrow. Companies can cut full-time staff off just as quickly and mercilessly as they can a freelancer. And you’re going to need some tangible evidence of what you’ve done in your time with that company as you go around looking for further work. That’s invaluable.
So get in the habit of downloading your work. Save it to an external hard drive, Dropbox, Google Drive or whatever your preferred solution is. Make sure everything is date-stamped and organized for quick retrieval and reference. Do it monthly or weekly or whatever works for you, but make sure you do it. Otherwise you’re going to wind up in a situation where not only are you not being appreciated for what you’ve done to contribute to a company’s bottom line but you’ll find your ability to prove your worth the next time around is hampered significantly.