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MAEnthoven

Getting the internship edge...

7 posts in this topic

First, a bit about myself. I'm a junior at Northwestern University currently double-majoring in Computer Science and Industrial Engineering. Unfortunately, Northwestern has only one class on computer game design and it hasn't been offered since I've been here (the professor who used to teach it ended up leaving). However, that's not to say that my courses aren't useful. From Simulation to Programming to Marketing, I've got a lot of classes that have a lot of use in the gaming industry. In addition, I've had an internship the past two summers with a web-software company in Chicago. While I got paid well and it was a nice place to work, it's really not somewhere I see myself making a career out of. However, I worked extremely hard and quickly acquired responsibilities that well exceeded those of my full-time coworkers. I have numerous references and already a full-time job offer for once I graduate (which isn't for another year and a half). They're a nice backup, I suppose... Other resume highlights are extensive programming knowledge (Java, C++, 3ds Max) along with programming competitions (TopCoder, ICPC) and modding Warcraft III and TeamFortress 2 with my ACM Club. I also have my pilot's license and am a site administrator for http://www.student.com I'm trying for an internship or coop in game design, and have been for nearly 4-5 months now. It's been EXTREMELY frustrating, to say the least. I've sent emails to every company in Chicago asking if they offer internship positions and have only received responses from a third of them, most saying that they don't have positions for interns. I've started to look at applying to the companies that actually seek interns (Blizzard, EA Games, Activision), but again haven't had any luck on getting any response. I'm incredibly passionate about games and designing/tweaking them and feel like I've well exceeded the 10,000 hour rule. I'm really pretty set on having this be what I want to do with my life... but it seems like that breaking into the industry involves a divine endowment. I've read the FAQ's and Sloperama but still haven't been able to find a way around the Catch-22 (which ironically Sloper has a full article about). In terms of long-term career goals, I have a pretty good idea. I'd like to start with game design and really get involved in that. From there, I would either stay strictly with design or try to move up to a production/business standpoint. I feel like I'm a total catch for any game company seeking a seriously productive intern. I have proven efficiency and production skills (solely took a project from launch in late June to go-live in mid-September), proven to be a hard worker, solid grades and coursework at an excellent university, a strong computer background, an absolute passion for creating games, and a high chance of returning for full employment. It seems like my location (Chicago) is killing me. It also feels like my university is killing me, which is funny considering it's one of the top universities in the world. I'm in the process of working on a full portfolio website ( http://www.MatthewEnthoven.com ), but for now I at least have my resume/contact info up there. If anyone can critique the general aesthetics of the site or any particular resume things, I'd be extremely grateful. Thanks in advance!
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Have you tried Volition? They're located in the Champaign-Urbana area, which is only an hour and a half from Chicago. No idea if they have internships though.

Its too bad that Midway went bankrupt. I had a friend who did an internship stint there.
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Original post by Rycross
Have you tried Volition? They're located in the Champaign-Urbana area, which is only an hour and a half from Chicago. No idea if they have internships though.
Yes, Volition is definitely a company I've been looking at. I did email them inquiring about internships, and they told me that they did sometimes do summer internships, and they'd start looking in October on their website. Unfortunately, I haven't seen anything there yet.

Quote:
Original post by Rycross
Its too bad that Midway went bankrupt. I had a friend who did an internship stint there.
Warner Bros bought them out and made Warner Bros Games, Chicago. Someone on another site mentioned that they were looking for internships, but the company is the hardest I've seen to contact. The Chicago Branch has no website, and the main page only sends you to a job search engine that has no internships listed.

You'd think they'd be hiring with making Mortal Kombat Online, but so far, no sign of internships. http://www.develop-online.net/news/32583/Warner-Bros-taking-Mortal-Kombat-online
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I don't know much about the North American market, but I would be surprised if having had an internship was essential for your career, as beneficial as it may be. I would advise that you spend more time on your portfolio, as that is going to prove valuable when it comes to job applications, and there's no guarantee that an internship in the industry will give you anything useful for your portfolio anyway.
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Original post by Kylotan
I would be surprised if having had an internship was essential for your career

It isn't. So you can put the hat back down onto your head. (^_^) Internships are beneficial but not indispensable. Not everyone can get one, so it's a good thing they're not indispensable.
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It seems like my location (Chicago) is killing me.

Where I went to school, there were two local companies hiring interns in my field, plus a couple professors who would hire students for their own research projects. There were 80 students in my class alone at the time. I was lucky enough to be hired within driving distance (about an hour commute each way), but other students were doing co-ops 2000 miles away in San Diego. Every three months for three years (that's how our program was set up) they would move back and forth across the country.

So what's wrong with applying for internships elsewhere? Some companies, like the one I work for now, prefer to bring in interns from different parts of the country because students from the same school tend to have similar strengths and weaknesses.
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From what I can see (from your post and your resume), you're most definitely a programmer.
This would be fine if you're applying to programming positions, but you seem to be applying to game design spots, and game design really is a different job to programming.
You mention you want to be put in a managerial job, yet have no mention of past experience even working with groups.
You also seem to be mentioning experience with 3Ds Max which is completely irrelevant in your CV without a portfolio as you don't list any formal art training(unless you mean programming plug-ins for 3ds max of course).

Your portfolio is a must, especially if you're short on relevant work experience, being your CV shows an employer nothing about your ability to work as a game designer, and it only really emphasises your background as a programming.

You need to get involved with other people and actually design and make a few games or demos, where you take primarily take the role of designer or manager and not programmer.
If you're still at University this will be far far easier than afterwards, as people with valuable abilities (and free time) will be available and likely will be up for it.
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From what I can see (from your post and your resume), you're most definitely a programmer.
This would be fine if you're applying to programming positions, but you seem to be applying to game design spots, and game design really is a different job to programming.
Yes, I realize that. While I'm extremely good at programming, it's not something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. I'm starting to realize more and more that I'll probably need to use programming to break into the industry.

Quote:
You mention you want to be put in a managerial job, yet have no mention of past experience even working with groups.
I'll try to highlight this more on my resume. This past summer with my previous internship, I was the lead resource and organizer on a project for one of our clients. I actually got put in charge of a team of 4 programmers (including myself) to manage actually getting the code designed, implemented, deployed, and live.

Quote:
You also seem to be mentioning experience with 3Ds Max which is completely irrelevant in your CV without a portfolio as you don't list any formal art training(unless you mean programming plug-ins for 3ds max of course).
My experience with 3ds Max isn't with art, and that's the problem. I use 3ds Max (and Maya) to create physical models of industrial engineering. I classify it as "significant experience" because I have used every major component extensively to design models that represent real world schematics.

If you think I should upload these models, then I'll do that, but because it hasn't been directly applicable to the gaming industry, I haven't. I'm not an artist.

Currently, I'm going to incorporate 3ds Max into my portfolio simply through creating 3d models for the games I'm creating, along with potentially outlining Boss fights in games.

Quote:
You need to get involved with other people and actually design and make a few games or demos, where you take primarily take the role of designer or manager and not programmer.
If you're still at University this will be far far easier than afterward, as people with valuable abilities (and free time) will be available and likely will be up for it.
I'll work on this. I've been wanting to get an IGDA student chapter at my University.



Thanks for the advice.

[Edited by - MAEnthoven on October 23, 2009 11:25:10 PM]
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