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Getting a job without an education


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#1 Grantax   Members   -  Reputation: 108

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 02:36 AM

I'm 19 years old, and for a couple of years I've been coding using c++. I don't have an education, and I was wondering how hard it is to get a job without an education, and what I should do next. I mostly do game programming (because it's more fun :) ), and I'm coding alone, so I have to do everything myself (Graphics, sound, networking, physics etc.), but I've come to believe that people specialize in a field, though at this point I don't really prefer one over the other. So what I'm asking is: What should I do to get into the industry? And would I normally have to specialize in a specific field like networking or graphics?

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#2 Promethium   Members   -  Reputation: 580

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 02:45 AM

Realistically, to get a interview for a popular job position, such as in the well-known game studios you will need a degree. It's a simple filtering criteria when they get 500+ applications. They make three piles: Those with X years industry experience[*], those with little to no experience, and those with no degree and no experience. Guess who they hire first...

I would say your best bet (beside getting a degree) is to make lots of very well-polished demos and use them to get a job at a *small* studio. Start at the bottom and work your way up. You will probably have to accept getting the lowest-paying position at first.

Alernatively, get a programmer job in another field and get real-world experience. That counts for a lot. But seriously, consider getting a degree.

[*] Industry experience meaning having worked on a shipping game that can be bought in a shop.


#3 Yasir   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 03:22 AM

Just intrested, how long did you spend teaching yourself C++ and how hard was it?
Im 19 and im intrested in learning it but im not in college or any education at the moment

#4 Burnhard   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 03:31 AM

Impossible. Really, no employer is going to take you on if you don't have the necessary background, both in terms of theory (a degree) and practical application.

But as you're only 19, there's plenty of time to get both, especially the former, which I think gives a good foundation to any career in IT.

#5 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7671

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 03:36 AM

(Should be obvious, but this is opinions and not facts.)

In past years, it might not have been out of the question to get a job with an incomplete education. A number of people here have done it successfully. However, for the last year or two we've been in a rather serious recession. You may have heard about it. Unemployment's around ten percent, higher if you go by more comprehensive numbers. Almost weekly, there are reports of layoffs. Harmonix just let thirty-some people go. So considering how hard it is to even keep a job right now, let alone get one...

Frankly, the market is flush with job seeker who are better than you. They have years of schooling, years of experience, and are probably willing to take a pay cut in lieu of not having a job at all. Pretty much the best you can hope for right now is being hired by a studio because you're cheap enough compared to those guys to be worth it. And that means being really good for your age, probably with multiple demos and a wide range of skills to show.

Or you can probably manage to get a QA job.

#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10173

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 05:09 AM

Quote:
Original post by Grantax
1. I was wondering how hard it is to get a job without an education,
2. and what I should do next.
3. would I normally have to specialize in a specific field like networking or graphics?

1. "Very." If you want a more precise statement of difficulty level, explain for me the difficulty measurement system ("difficulty level of 1 is exhaling and inhaling at 100 feet above sea level, and difficulty level of 10 is creating a universe" for example) and I'll do my best! (^_^)
2. You should get an education and build a portfolio.
3. Yes.

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#7 Atrix256   Members   -  Reputation: 510

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 05:38 AM

It used to be that it was reasonable to get into the industry with no education but as technology is moving forward, its getting harder and harder to get in that way.

I got in without a formal education so it's not impossible (:

However, my path was.... continue doing hobby game development and learn as much as possible while...

#1 - work retail for 4 years (it sucked)
#2 - work for my uncle doing web development for 4 years (making almost nothing)
#3 - getting a job at a "real" company doing web dev for 6 months
#4 - I got lucky and a game development company decided to take a chance on me. I spent 1.5 years there and shipped a title. The real company + my previous exp with my uncle was what got them to even look at the resume.
#5 - With a shipped title I moved to another game studio (higher quality) and have been there about a year. I figure 1 more year there and my resume will be solid and i'll be "in" for good.

However, if i knew then what i knew now, i would have gotten a degree :P

I would have either gotten a computer science degree from a regular university, or gone to a school like digipen and gotten a game development degree.

Digipen is the more fun of the 2 since you learn a TON directly related to game development, I'd recommend that to you hehe.

If you get a degree you are going to get a higher paid job sooner in game development (instead of having to do business dev first) and also, if things dont work out in game development for some reason or another, you have a degree to fall back onto to help you get a job in another field.

Other fields aren't as forgiving about not having a degree so getting one is definitely the safer bet in the long run :P

Plus many companies are always looking for fresh grads, while very few are looking for unproven hobbyists!

#8 Rosalia   Members   -  Reputation: 133

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 06:50 AM

I don't understand why people are so afraid of starting a degree. Once you put your feet inside the university and are able to say "working on a CS Degree", you already increased your probability of getting a job in the game industry by a 1000%.

Even if you have the dream of starting a new company yourself, getting inside the university is the way to go. It'll get you to know people, technologies, a sense of what can be done..

John Carmack dropped university, but to drop you must get into it. And he is a genius, which most of us are not.

#9 Palidine   Members   -  Reputation: 1281

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:03 AM

Especially if you are only 19, don't know why you wouldn't go for an education. In this economic climate, as mentioned, it's hard enough for those of us with an education and 5+ years of experience to get a job! Better to spend a recession sheltered in a school than spending it unemployed.

But I'll otherwise echo the rest of the thread. It's getting more and more difficult to get into any industry without a college education. There are certainly exceptions, but those are typically of the "holy shit you are amazing" variety. We had a guy at my last job who was young and no college degree but he had independently developed a procedural city generator capable of creating something that looked not unlike NYC. The other things in his portfolio were similarly fantastic looking: things you'd expect people to have done as a master's thesis. So, yeah, it's possible to do, but in the same sense that it's possible to win the lottery [smile]

-me

#10 joew   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3679

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:09 AM

The next couple years are the absolute perfect time to earn a degree. The recession has slashed jobs all across the board and continues to do so and things won't be picking up for at least a few years. During times like this it is always recommended to upgrade education as good jobs are few and you will have much better qualifications for when the economy starts to pick back up.

#11 Grantax   Members   -  Reputation: 108

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:57 AM

I flunked out of high school (I think it corresponds to high school..) last year because I got an F in history, and religion. I have issues with learning stuff that's totally uninteresting, and not related to the job I want in any way.

Quote:
Original post by Yasir
Just intrested, how long did you spend teaching yourself C++ and how hard was it?
Im 19 and im intrested in learning it but im not in college or any education at the moment


I started learning C++ when I was 15, and I didn't find it hard at all. My problem isn't understanding c++, it's all the problems I have to solve when making games. (Which isn't really an issue, you'll always have to learn new things when programming new games)

#12 Rycross   Members   -  Reputation: 576

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:12 AM

Quote:
Original post by Grantax
I flunked out of high school (I think it corresponds to high school..) last year because I got an F in history, and religion. I have issues with learning stuff that's totally uninteresting, and not related to the job I want in any way.


I hate to be blunt, but that attitude makes you unsuited for any sort of professional development work. Even game programming requires work that is uninteresting and monotonous from time to time. Failing out of things because they're uninteresting and you don't want to put in the effort is a huge black mark, and you'll have to fix that if you want employers to take you seriously.

#13 Grantax   Members   -  Reputation: 108

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:23 AM

Quote:
Original post by Rycross
Quote:
Original post by Grantax
I flunked out of high school (I think it corresponds to high school..) last year because I got an F in history, and religion. I have issues with learning stuff that's totally uninteresting, and not related to the job I want in any way.


I hate to be blunt, but that attitude makes you unsuited for any sort of professional development work. Even game programming requires work that is uninteresting and monotonous from time to time. Failing out of things because they're uninteresting and you don't want to put in the effort is a huge black mark, and you'll have to fix that if you want employers to take you seriously.


I've had several jobs I've found utterly boring, but I still didn't mind. Having to read, understand and remember 500 pages of several uninteresting books on the other hand, is just too difficult. Does that make me unable to make games? No, it doesn't.

#14 Daivuk   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 376

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:50 AM

He is kind of right on this, I failed college because of the French and Philosophy classes. Does that means I am not smart and I can't achieve boring programming tasks? I got a specialized degree in Video games programming after, and then I found a job because of that degree, NOT because of my portfolio I had already. Which I hate to sound arrogant, but was kick ass portfolio.

But... That was college (That's after high school). I didn't find high school particularly difficult. Get a 60% in those 2 classes, they wont even bother looking at those :)

Edit: Note: That portfolio was ignored by companies until I got the game degree.

#15 jtagge75   Members   -  Reputation: 139

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:00 AM

Quote:
Original post by Grantax
I've had several jobs I've found utterly boring, but I still didn't mind. Having to read, understand and remember 500 pages of several uninteresting books on the other hand, is just too difficult. Does that make me unable to make games? No, it doesn't.


Makes you fairly unabled to get hired by any professional company. What kind of impression do you think it gives to an employer when you tell them you flunked high school because it was boring? Why should they spend time and money to train you when its just as likely you will find the job boring and quit. Don't think that because you "know" C++ there isn't on the job learning. Or that you won't be required to do long tedious tasks. What advantage do you offer over somebody who stuck out the boring college classes and has a degree? The other thing about college is it forces you to work in groups (sometimes with people you don't like). You have no experience with this either. Employers can't tell if you play well with others. Professional games today are all about working with other people every day. The days of the lone programmer making commerical games is pretty much gone.

Only remote way you have of getting a job is creating some *very* nice demos (things like Palidine mentioned) and getting to know some people in companies that can directly get you an interview to show your skills. Since you have no resume or any kind of qualifications you will never make it past HR to get an interview that way.

Life is full of things we don't want to do. If you really want to make games for a living then you are going to have to suck it up and do something you don't like to get there. The world isn't full of freebies to work around what you want to do.

#16 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10173

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:29 AM

Quote:
Original post by Grantax
Quote:
Original post by Rycross
Quote:
Original post by Grantax
I flunked out of high school (I think it corresponds to high school..) last year because I got an F in history, and religion. I have issues with learning stuff that's totally uninteresting, and not related to the job I want in any way.


I hate to be blunt, but that attitude makes you unsuited for any sort of professional development work. Even game programming requires work that is uninteresting and monotonous from time to time. Failing out of things because they're uninteresting and you don't want to put in the effort is a huge black mark, and you'll have to fix that if you want employers to take you seriously.


I've had several jobs I've found utterly boring, but I still didn't mind. Having to read, understand and remember 500 pages of several uninteresting books on the other hand, is just too difficult. Does that make me unable to make games? No, it doesn't.

OK, well then! You don't need our opinions, so why did you ask?
Maybe you ought to just let these remarks stew in your mind for a couple of days.

Having flunked history and religion isn't a showstopper. If you decide someday that you do want to get more education, I'm sure you can find a way.

That said, there will be more times in your life when you'll find it necessary to do something unpleasant for extended periods of time. If you can stick it through a boring job, you should be able to stick it through other boring things too.

And you might be surprised at how useful it will become to have more knowledge of history and religion (and other boring topics) than you think.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#17 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7671

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:41 AM

Quote:
Original post by Grantax
Quote:
Original post by Rycross
Quote:
Original post by Grantax
I flunked out of high school (I think it corresponds to high school..) last year because I got an F in history, and religion. I have issues with learning stuff that's totally uninteresting, and not related to the job I want in any way.


I hate to be blunt, but that attitude makes you unsuited for any sort of professional development work. Even game programming requires work that is uninteresting and monotonous from time to time. Failing out of things because they're uninteresting and you don't want to put in the effort is a huge black mark, and you'll have to fix that if you want employers to take you seriously.


I've had several jobs I've found utterly boring, but I still didn't mind. Having to read, understand and remember 500 pages of several uninteresting books on the other hand, is just too difficult. Does that make me unable to make games? No, it doesn't.
Okay, fine. Let's avoid arguing that point and move to a more directly relevant one -- what exactly do you plan to tell an employer when they ask you WHY you dropped out of high school? Here's a hint: if you tell them what you just told us, they will politely thank you for applying and show you the door. In layman's terms, they will throw you the hell out.

Oh, and when you said "no education" I assumed you meant "no college". If you don't have a high school degree, and you're 19, no game developer on the planet is interested in hiring you. End of story. Go get a GED, or plan on working fast food.

#18 Grantax   Members   -  Reputation: 108

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:56 AM

Sure, I could get an E if I spent more time, but at the moment I can't afford the exams, so I was just asking if there was a way around.

Thank you for all the answers, I had pretty much given up getting an education, but I guess I'll have to give it another shot.

#19 Obscure   Moderators   -  Reputation: 174

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 12:06 PM

Quote:
Original post by Grantax
I flunked out of high school (I think it corresponds to high school..) last year because I got an F in history, and religion. I have issues with learning stuff that's totally uninteresting, and not related to the job I want in any way.

You have never done the job - how would you know what is or isn't relevant? Game development is about creating worlds and worlds are made up of history, architecture, linguistics, mathematics, music, religion, geography, geology etc etc... a general education that covers a wide range of topics will stand you in excellent stead as a game developer - it will also make you a much more interesting person to talk to when your not working.


Dan Marchant - Business Development Consultant
www.obscure.co.uk

#20 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10173

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 01:17 PM

Quote:
Original post by Grantax
1. I was just asking if there was a way around.
2. Thank you for all the answers, I had pretty much given up getting an education, but I guess I'll have to give it another shot.

1. The question didn't quite come out that way.
2. Excellent. That is an adult thing to have said, and a wise outlook.

I am closing the thread because beyond this point (we have now attained "closure" aka resolution) it stands an excellent chance of getting hijacked in a different direction. Anyone having a related question can, as always, start a new thread.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.




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