Taking Your First Steps In The Game Industry
So You Got Your Diploma!
You’ve made it. Another large achievement, since getting your driver’s license and graduating High School; Turning 21 if you’re the party sort. Living until 21 could also be an achievement for the really fun people. That’s not the achievement we’re currently targeting though; We’re targeting your newly homed skill set that you’re eager to show to the world. Yes you’re finally ready to hit the ground running straight into an industry job. So rather you got your BA for VFX, Game Arts or even your BS Computer Science you have a job to do and a role to fill.Now that you’re ready. You have to put your best foot forward because breaking into your first job will be much more difficult then space re-entry through the ozone layer. Buckle up, because your journey is a rocky one!
The first thing you have to ensure before dropping into the Industry is to establish your identity. No, not go get your ID card from the DMV, but start building your footprint. The game Industry is rapidly growing but the demand is declining due to the increasing number of talent trying to get their hands in the pot; That means that you have a lot of competition and you need to stand out! To do that, you will need 3 Key things before I could even suggest seeking a job:
- Business Cards
The goal is to stand out, so make everything is as flashy and well put together as possible and, of course, make sure your work speaks for itself.
If you take any bit of advice from this post, please let it be this. The resume is the most important piece of paper you could ever have, aside from your birth certificate and social security card.
Cool, Now that we have branded ourselves and created a small online presence, its time to take on the next step. To get the job you have to know the job. I’m not just talking about your amazing technical know how, but knowing who is in the job. Networking is important for getting your name out there. There are two forms of networking that we are going to discuss. One Being Social Media and the Second is networking events. Both of these outlets are no place for the shy, so you may have to learn how to come out of your shell (at least for now!) and mingle a bit.
You’ve established a website presence that people can see and link back to, but now we have to put a real face on it. We need to engage in social media. The strongest social media outlets for job seekers are LinkedIn and Twitter. Those two are the most effective in growing your professional network. You must also be thinking, what about Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook? Those three outlets are great social media platforms but they are more personal and casual; Plus they are less engaged in a professional setting.
LinkedIn is a strong and powerful business driven networking tool that many people (especially graduates) take for granted. It is a social networking, job-seeking, resume seeking and business marketing site all in one. Signing up and completing a profile is essential to building a strong LinekdIn network.
It is important to make sure your out shaking hands and infecting peoples brains with your name and what you do. Networking is one of the strongest tools at your disposal whens seeking a position in this overly-saturated position.
Applying and Job Sites
before we go deeper into this, lets talk about best practices for applying to jobs.
Thus far, you’ve done a great job establishing your brand and your online/physical presence; Its outstanding! By now you will have met some interesting and like minded people who have a good grip of who you are and what you are capable of. Also, you probably have been pointed in some neat directions to better your understanding of the Game Industry and the tools you will be using. Keeping an open and ready mind is essential to an ever growing and transforming Industry. The last step to seeking a job is to create profiles on Job sites and reach out to employers by applying for new positions.
Its important to create a profile on as many job sites as possible. It should always be up to date, and yes its annoying but you should keep each one updated. If you have been following these steps to a T then you already created your LinkedIn profile page. With that you can apply to jobs, and many of them you
The first rule of applying to a full time job is, It’s a full time job just to find a full time job; Or to find a part time job, for that matter.
At The Interview
Know Your Worth
One important thing is to know exactly what you are worth. If you followed the previous suggestions then you should be making your Dice account. Between Glassdoor and your Dice account you should have a good idea what you should be making for your skills and talents.
The Classroom Has Changed
Sorry to say, but the learning never stops. You will continuously learn new things and be challenged while you’re on the job. Especially if you get a job at a small start up company or studio. Even if you’re in a larger setting, there will still always be learning. You will learn and execute new workflow practices like Agile and Scrum. There will be new methods you have to pick up to do or redo certain assignments. You may find a specialty/talent you didn’t even know you had. That’s called a niche. Having a good niche makes you an irreplaceable asset to your team.
Most of all you will slowly and indirectly pick up little bits here and there from your bosses and supervisors. Its a sense of maturity that only grows with experience. Which is why potential-employers seem to always look for people with experience. Its less about the skill-set that you probably equally have, but the mindset and workflow often only comes with experience; The type of experience you will gain as you slowly find your place in the industry. Last tip, never be too lazy to continue to document your portfolio. 1. It’s cool to show off. 2. It’s always good to be ready to excel. It was one of my mistakes as I pushed my way into my third year in the game industry.
If you follow these steps you will have a much higher chance of standing out in your field and finding a really great starting job. Don’t be discouraged if you have not landed your dream job immediately, but that does not mean don’t try. When it comes to your dream job, you should try to find people in that field or location and build your network with them. It will all come to you in no time. There is no need to rush your career, even if you are starting late. Good luck and happy hunting!