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how much is a portfolio important

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As kindly suggested by Tom, I'm starting a new thread for this question I was wondering how much is a personal portfolio taken into account when considering applications in the games industry with respect to academic credentials and previous job experiences. Does a maths (not cs) graduate (guess whom I'm talking about), without job experience, yet with a rich amateur material, have any chance of getting a slot? thanks in advance for any answer daniele

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For programming jobs (which I'm guessing is what you're after?) the portfolio is extremely important. In fact, it's probably the single most important tool you can have for showing your skills to prospective employers.

Your portfolio shows many important things:
  • Whether or not you can finish a project cleanly

  • The quality and style of your code

  • What kind of challenges you are willing to tackle

  • That you have the dedication to produce good material, possibly even outside your normal work/school responsibilities

  • How good you are at packaging a project and selling the results of your skills


A maths degree is fine, although you may find that picking up a couple of CS textbooks will help you round out the areas of programming you may be weak in (data structures, algorithm design, and complexity analysis are probably the biggest ones). If you have training in statistics, definitely advertise it - people who are good with stats can be very valuable in certain programming roles.

Not having job experience shouldn't hurt you too much, but it definitely means you need a solid portfolio to make up for that lack of experience.


I'd say if you can put together some really nice demos of your capabilities (including finished projects if at all possible), you probably have a decent shot. However, be warned that right now there is a major glut of entry-level people trying to break into the business, so it will definitely be a challenge to rise above the crowd and really attract employers' attention.

Best of luck [smile]

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I disagree that a programming portfolio is so critical.

We have plenty of extremely skilled programmers around here who were hired without a portfolio of game demos.



If you happen to have something to show us, that's great. It provides evidence that you can do the job, meaning you are more likely to get the job.

But if you don't have one, it does not exclude you from the job.

Sometimes the best new hires are those who are excited and have a positive attitude, demonstrate their skills through academic performance and through strong results in our programming tests and interviews, yet don't have a portfolio.

We have very few bad hires, and a very low turnover rate. A good part of that is due to how strict the interview process is.


Around here you need a college degree or you need to be approaching graduation. You need to pass a programming test which is mandatory for junior level and discretionary for those with more experience. You need to get through the traditional interviewing process where you will be asked quite a few hard questions. Everything else is optional.

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Quote:
Original post by frob
I disagree that a programming portfolio is so critical.

...

Sometimes the best new hires are those who are excited and have a positive attitude, demonstrate their skills through academic performance and through strong results in our programming tests and interviews


How do you decide if you want to invite someone for an interview? Seems like a good portfolio can have a big impact on this decision.

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Quote:
Original post by Gage64
Quote:
Original post by frob
I disagree that a programming portfolio is so critical.

...

Sometimes the best new hires are those who are excited and have a positive attitude, demonstrate their skills through academic performance and through strong results in our programming tests and interviews


How do you decide if you want to invite someone for an interview? Seems like a good portfolio can have a big impact on this decision.
Divination. :-)

A portfolio is just one of many bits of evidence that a person can do a job. It is by no means the ONLY bit of evidence.


What did they actually do in school? Did they take any exceptional coursework? Did they list any special projects? Did they earn academic honors? Have they participated in (not necessarily won) any programming contests or competitions? Is there evidence that they are a star performer, or a leader, or otherwise talented?

What jobs did they have while in school? Did they stick with them? Did the jobs prepare them at all for industry work? Is there evidence that the person will last through a project crunch?

What other interests do they express? Do they show signs that they can interact well with others? Do they show volunteer experience, or work for volunteer organizations? Do they participate in clubs, contests, forums, or other groups?

Do they show evidence of innate ability? Evidence of intelligence, or leadership, or expertise, or enabling others? Do they show evidence of focus, determination, energy, enthusiasm? (Conversely, do they show evidence of being disruptive, arrogant, volatile, easily distracted, unable to finish, or other negative traits?)



After looking at a stack of applications, traits like these become rather easy to identify.


A simple example: Someone hired two years ago with no game development portfolio. They had a masters degree, studied many topics central to game development, placed well in both math and programming competitions, volunteer experience, and a hobby that is completely unrelated to the field. He worked his way through school, had had an internship at Microsoft. Even without a portfolio, on paper it was quite obvious the person had both talent and drive. A programming test and interview process verified it.

He had to be broken of a bad habit of over-designing code, but otherwise was able to learn anything we threw at him and fit in with the culture nicely.

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I didn't mean to give the impression that a portfolio is necessarily mandatory; certainly there are other effective ways to gauge candidates. In fact I'm aware of several cases where applicants have demoed a portfolio to a given studio which was a surprise to the studio.

However, in the current job climate, with the current overload of entry-level applicants, I personally maintain that a good portfolio is the best way to rise above the masses.

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