Q: I’m a game design student. What can I do to help my chances of landing a job?
A: One of the things that can help set you apart from other students with similar credentials is to finish hobby games on the side, outside of what’s required by classes. There are a lot of students graduating every year with degrees related to game development, and there’s a growing community of developers learning by experimenting from home. Combining the knowledge, experience, and background credentials of both methods of learning can go a long way toward distinguishing you in the job market. Not only does it look good to have both formal and independent training, it will also help your actual skillset stand out, in part by developing your ability to responsibly trust your gut when it comes to taking initiative autonomously to generate results for your own satisfaction.
Internships can make a big difference. Due to countless factors outside any applicant’s control (shifts in industry, limited number of positions, the human element in recruiting…), they can’t be counted on to work out no matter how qualified someone is. However, it’s important to apply. Not just to one, either – apply to as many places as you can reasonably push yourself to apply to. Like a tree planting seeds, there’s a lot of luck left in what the winds and weather will do to any given resume you plant. While there’s not an application fee (as there is for, say, many college applications), I encourage thinking of the brief background research about a company/team/game as your application fee for any opportunities applied to – cover letters and conversation should never make it apparent that any given company is but one of the many that you’ve contacted..
Apply early in the school year for internships. Even if deadlines fall later, many of the best opportunities will wound up filled closer to summer break.
Networking is also critical to finding a favorable spot in industry. Attend the Game Developer’s Conference if at all possible. It’s a great way to meet people from all corners of the industry – I consider it the single most important conference for professional developers.
Also on the subject of job search, theses slides may be handy:
(These slides have been previously linked to in Lessons Vol. 4, which contains a few other job search links as well.)
Originally posted as part of GameDevLessons.com Vol. 11
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