Posted 09 November 2012 - 10:43 AM
Just get on with things as you are. You will never shake this off (you already know this) but don't fear it too much because the impact it has will lessen over time. In deciding what you want to do and just getting on with it you're accepting the thorn in your side that it is. It's better you try this, than write yourself off as a career criminal and don't try...or worse. It will become a much smaller thorn quite quickly if you stay on the straight and narrow, perhaps even set an example for others.
Doing well at school, will put it one step behind you and potential employers will have something both more recent and positive to focus on in hiring you. Do well at your first employment and I think other potential employers will trust that you're not the kid who made a mistake, but a potential employee.
Although you might find some places that won't employ you, I'm sure you will find many who will overlook it especially for something done as a minor. When it comes to applying for jobs, be up front about it but personally I would say 'not so up front'. Putting this in your initial application is probably not a good idea, but I would say that if you're invited for interviews you need to start thinking about talking at that point to their HR. In this industry, usually there are phone interviews and I would consider speaking about it at that point and possibly follow up with an email to the hiring manager or HR. In both cases, explain that you have a history, aren't hiding it but wanted to get chance to speak first and you were always going to be 'up front'. If you are following up with something in writing after a call, then point out you were up front in the call, backing up the idea you were up front at the most appropriate point.
Get references, including those of the character kind along the way. College professors will be quite ideal for this because what they think will be respected. Get a job while you are at college too, for the same reasons - effectively showing that you are a reliable employee.
Be careful what you get up to for the next few years and if you're ever in a place where you could be in trouble with the police even just by association, think about not staying there. Party with weed about...consider going home. At a bar...don't get too drunk, avoid getting into fights, etc. You don't have to be an angel by any means, just don't take risks.
Do remember that we all have skeletons in the closet one way or the other.
Incidentally, do bear in mind the above 'do computer science over game design' is common advice around here and with very good reason. If you are intent on programming and can change that over, I would.
You want advice? Well, if after all that you've decided to get on with life and are going to U of U, it looks to me like you're already rebuilding things positively.