Get Paid to Play With Legos? This Former College Student Found a Way
When Maxx Davidson was 4 years old, he wanted to grow up to build things. He ultimately achieved that goal, although the path that took him there was something even he couldn’t dream up.
Now 23, Davidson is the latest to earn the title of Lego Master Model Builder — and he’s one of only 22 people in the world who have the right to put that on their resume.
So, how does someone not only land a literal dream job but one as prestigious as Master Model Builder? With a few months of experience in his new gig under his belt, Davidson filled us in.
The Student Becomes the Master (Model Builder)
In spring 2018, while Davidson was pursuing a life-sciences education degree at the University of Akron in Ohio, he stumbled on a shared Facebook article that would change his career path.
A new Legoland Discovery Center was preparing to open in Columbus, Ohio, and they were on the hunt for the park’s official Master Model Builder.
Although Davidson had already left his 4-year-old self’s dream job behind to pursue “something more reasonable,” his curiosity was piqued. Here was a real-life opportunity, something he didn’t realize existed. Naturally, he applied along with thousands of others.
Davidson and over 70 other contestants from across the country were invited to Brick Factor, a two-day, multiround competition where he worked to outbuild the best of the best to earn the job.
“I know Brick Factor used a lot of the more basic bricks. They didn’t have any specialty stuff,” he says. “I got out a lot of my old Lego bricks and practiced putting those together in different geometric shapes to see if I could get something fluid from those blocky structures.”
Not only did he go back to his Lego roots to practice for the competition, contestants were told about the first round animal theme beforehand. So, he went into the contest with a bees-in-a-honeycomb model idea… which he abandoned at the last minute for a saltwater environment instead.
Despite his eleventh hour changeup, Davidson beat the country’s top builders and became the next Master Model Builder.
From the time he landed the job in May to the opening of Legoland Discovery Center Columbus in late September, he has been training with fellow Master Model Builders and creating models for the grand opening.
“It was completely surreal,” he says. “When it finally kind of clicked for me that this was actually a job that I had, it just felt so good coming into work every day.”
While the official salary wasn’t disclosed, a Glassdoor listing from 2011 reports the base pay as $15 to $16 per hour. And what exactly does the day-to-day work of a Master Model Builder entail? A whole lot more than building awe-inspiring Lego creations.
“I run the creative workshop… We have a different monthly model building every month, and I get to take the kids step by step through how to do that,” says Davidson.
The Discovery Center also offers Lego Education — weekly programs that support the schools’ core curriculum. Davidson spends that time teaching children about science, technology, engineering and math concepts that match up with what they’re currently learning in school.
“So, part of the job is definitely the building, but another part is being able to interact with the guests and make sure everyone has a great experience,” he says. “There’s a lot of different facets, and they balance each other really nicely week to week.”
What It Takes to Land a Dream Job
Snagging this opportunity of a lifetime meant Davidson had to completely pivot from his previous plan, which included leaving the University of Akron behind and moving to Columbus full time.
A dramatic career change can seem like a disorienting move for some, but Davidson says the work he was doing as a student applies to his current gig. Plus, he stresses that just because you leave formal education for a job, it doesn’t mean you stop learning. You continue your education — just in a different format.
He also thinks his previous experiences, especially his interest in education, gave him an edge in the competition. Aside from stellar Lego brick-building skills, the judges were looking for someone who was comfortable interacting with a crowd, children in particular.
For the final round of Brick Factor, instead of just constructing a model on his own, he brought kids from the audience on stage with him to build small pieces of the final product — a record player with a moving needle.
Going that extra mile elevated him above the other applicants. And while this example may seem specific to this particular gig, the overarching concept should be used by applicants pursuing a job in any field: Know your strengths, and don’t be scared to try something outside the norm to showcase how well you fit a position.
Davidson also has a bit of personal advice when it comes to landing a dream job:
“The idea of a dream job is something that doesn’t come around very often, but what you can do is pursue a passion,” he says. “Then in the off chance that you do get an opportunity, you’re prepared.”
He believes that if you have a passion — any passion — and work toward it, you’ll acquire universal skills that will push you forward into a dream position. It’s a sort of “If you build it, it will come” mentality. (Pun 100% intended.)
And if your passion happens to be Lego model building, you may be in luck. A new Legoland Discovery Center is scheduled to open in 2019 in San Antonio, which means Lego is on the hunt for Master Model Builder No. 23. Time to start strategizing your models and brushing up on your public speaking skills.
Davidson is living proof that our dream jobs, even the ones from childhood, aren’t out of reach. Just play to your strengths and always pursue new learning experiences — and keep an eye out for life-changing Facebook articles.
Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. When she was little, her dream job was a flight attendant. Now, she white-knuckles her way through takeoffs and landings, so it’s probably for the best that she chose a different career.