How I almost worked for Pixar

How I almost worked for Pixar

A good pairing with my article about How I almost worked directly for Steve Jobs.

Prior to coming to Apple, I was browsing the Pixar jobs website. I would do this a couple times a year but I was honestly so unqualified for absolutely everything they had offered.

But in 1999, they had a job posted for someone to assist with migrating some of their traditional UNIX workstations to the Mac. Initially, it was more of an investigative role as Mac OS X had not yet shipped and they had no desire to switch the classic Mac OS.

At the time, I had a very scattered resume of support and consulting positions. However, this job was so right up my alley it almost made me laugh. It required experience in this eclectic mix of software that I either knew really well or I used the software of one of their competitors.

For reasons I no longer recall, I was in my car in a parking lot in the rain when I had my phone interview. Perhaps I briefly ducked away from my job. The interview was really brutal. For the software where I only had experience with competitive products, the interviewer was clearly disappointed.

I didn’t think it went well at all. I went through several other phone interviews with varying degrees of success.

One morning my piece of shit cell phone rang while I was half asleep, I picked it up and noticed it had not charged overnight. While frantically looking for the charger cable, the phone died.

After plugging in and charging the phone, I called voicemail and it was the hiring manager at Pixar! She wanted to schedule a time to come in and talk and also to meet the team. I later found out through a Pixar contact that once you get to this point, you’re almost a shoe-in.

I called back and left a message.

A few days later I called back and left a message.

Weekly after that, I called back again.

One time I went through my phone call history and called everyone in that area code and left messages but none of them appeared to be direct numbers.

I had no one’s email address.

I knew no one at Pixar.

Eventually I gave up.

That was it. What a crushing disappointment. Again, a what-could-have-been sort of story. I loved working around creative people even though my own creativity doesn’t consist of making amazing animated characters and scenes. I wanted to be a part of that.

In the end, I don’t have any regrets because my Apple career was amazing and got to be a part of something far more important than making movies.

Years later I met someone who was familiar with that team and said they weren’t surprised that they dropped the ball. I always just imagine they were so busy that other things always took precedence. (As as aside, I believe my Apple co-worker Mike Ferris was the eventual person hired for this job. Given my respect for him, I felt a lot less bad).