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Fredalbob

Game companies pay your tuition... For a price?

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Hello, I am currently 16 years old and have been studying game design, computer repair, as well as general programming for about 7-8 years now. I am finally getting to that turning point where I need to figure how I'm going to make my way into the game industry. Right now I'm currently located in Arizona and plan on going to Collin's College. As much as I would love to take out a loan... *Sarcasm* I just don't want to be stuck in debt the rest of my years. My father suggested that maybe one of the smaller gaming industries that are in need of employees might pay for some of my college if I sign a contract to work for them for 2-3 years. Does anyone know if this may be possible or not? Thanks, Jake

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I may be wrong - and I'm in the UK, not the USA, so my advice may not apply where you are - but I expect that most games companies are inundated by interest from heavily-indebted graduates that they wouldn't consider paying for anybody else's tuition.

It's more likely (though whether it's probable, possible, or very unlikely, I couldn't say) that such an arrangement might exist in more conventional computing areas. Then you can use your education from there to apply for games jobs later.

[Edited by - Kylotan on April 28, 2010 9:33:12 AM]

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It's quite unlikely. Better to take out the loan -- most people cannot afford to pay for college out of pocket and fund it either through loans, scholarships or a combination of both. It's basically a fact of life.

If you were to go after an agreement like you're proposing, that's not any different than a loan, except what you're paying the interest with is your time which, by the time you graduate, is worth much more both in terms of opportunity cost and quality of life.

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A quite a few normal IT employers will pay for some college, assuming you've already had enough to get hired in the first place(some cases it's just around $600 a year, the joke being guess how many classes I'm taking every year).

Some companies just blatantly have their own training programs for their programmers. However in most cases this is more along the lines of taking their blue collar workers and training them in a legacy language like COBOL.

Edit:

You could always look at the reserves or active duty. If you've been able to teach yourself programming starting at 9 or 10 you should have very few problems getting a ASVAB score to get into some of the "Most Awesome Programs" in the country. The Navy Nuclear program is amazing high school graduates start their pay higher than most college graduates before any training, get access to the 3rd or 4th best school in the country, and after leaving the service access to some really cool jobs.

Then again it's a major decision, you're talking about 4 to 6 years where it's very hard to just quit. If you do think about the military spend 12 or so hours studying an ASVAB book you'll raise your score by quite a bit(classic case of mostly testing how well you can study).

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Original post by Fredalbob
I...plan on going to Collin's College.
2. As much as I would love to take out a loan... *Sarcasm* I just don't want to be stuck in debt the rest of my years.
3. My father suggested that maybe one of the smaller gaming industries
4. that are in need of employees might pay for some of my college
5. Does anyone know if this may be possible or not?

1. Good!
2. */Sarcasm* It would be only until you pay it off, not your whole life.
3. You mean "companies" not "industries."
4. Unlikely.
5. Anything is possible.
Take the loan, go to college. Read the FAQs here on the Breaking In forum (where I moved your post to)

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Original post by Fredalbob
My father suggested that maybe one of the smaller gaming industries that are in need of employees might pay for some of my college if I sign a contract to work for them for 2-3 years. Does anyone know if this may be possible or not?

I'm afraid I have never heard of game companies doing this, mainly because they don't need to. The world is full of wannabe game developers who are willing to pay their own way through college with student loans/scholarships/part-time jobs. It is simply easier for the game companies to hire these people than to bother doing a deal with you to pay for your schooling (especially as they have no way of knowing if you will actually complete the course).

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You could always do anything else that gives you time to program in your spare time. Work on some small realistic projects that show your skills and walk into a job without a degree. I guess these days in the USA you have to have a Degree to get a game job?

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Outside of the silicon valley boom days, it's always been very difficult to get a programming job without a degree. Now that we're in pretty much the opposite of those days it is pretty much impossible.

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Thats their loss then, there are many talented programmers without degrees or degrees that are not programming that I would employ here in the UK based on what they show they can do and how well they interview.

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Just be aware that you will have considerably less debt if you chose to attend ASU, or even less if you chose to stay at home and attend CGCC for a year first (they offer Computer Science courses that transfer directly to ASU). Just because it's not a game-related degree doesn't mean you can't use game-related projects in class and work on games outside of class.

But yeah, the days of getting a job in your desired field first and having the employer pay for your degree are long gone. The better way to secure some employer funding for your education is to attend school and apply for internships. Several of my friends and other former classmates scored deals where they worked full time during the summer and part time during school. I don't know if they all got tuition reimbursement as well, but they did get a steady paycheck throughout the rest of their academic career and gained quite a bit of experience to boot.

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Original post by mikiex
Thats their loss then, there are many talented programmers without degrees or degrees that are not programming that I would employ here in the UK based on what they show they can do and how well they interview.


Spending the time to review what they can do and give them an interview isn't free. You're losing money for every candidate you look at. Just because there are good programmers without degrees doesn't mean you're more likely to find a good programmer in a pool of applicants without degrees than a pool of graduates. Quite the opposite statistically.

It's in every company's best interest to cull the applicant pool so you're not spending more money hunting for a candidate than the benefit you'll get from getting a better or cheaper candidate. One of the quickest, most effective culling mechanisms is just looking for a degree. Especially for HR people who're unable to make technical evaluations from a resume. Especially in an environment like today where there's tons of applicants for each position.

It's dumb, it's unfair, but it's not their loss. It's business 101.

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Original post by Telastyn
Quote:
Original post by mikiex
Thats their loss then, there are many talented programmers without degrees or degrees that are not programming that I would employ here in the UK based on what they show they can do and how well they interview.


Spending the time to review what they can do and give them an interview isn't free. You're losing money for every candidate you look at. Just because there are good programmers without degrees doesn't mean you're more likely to find a good programmer in a pool of applicants without degrees than a pool of graduates. Quite the opposite statistically.

It's in every company's best interest to cull the applicant pool so you're not spending more money hunting for a candidate than the benefit you'll get from getting a better or cheaper candidate. One of the quickest, most effective culling mechanisms is just looking for a degree. Especially for HR people who're unable to make technical evaluations from a resume. Especially in an environment like today where there's tons of applicants for each position.

It's dumb, it's unfair, but it's not their loss. It's business 101.


This is true, a better way to do it is to throw half the applicants into a bin, why? Well these are the unlucky people.

That would be equally dumb

In the company I work for which is sizable and in the top 50 most sucessful game developers in the world, we have a system and review all candidates and do not cull based on degrees because there are a lot of talented people out there.
Yes a degree is a good thing to have but equally there are some awful candidates that have them.

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If I'm not mistaken, Collins College is one of, what many of us like to call, the as-seen-on-TV educational institutions. If you're going to go this route, be sure to *really* evaluate the value of their program, as its value is highly suspect to the industry and to the outside world as a whole.

I personally am suspect of any program which spends money on Television adds during Jerry Springer, rather than spending that money to improve their program. Good programs speak for themselves in the quality of the accademic work and graduates they turn out -- MIT, Stanford and Canegie-Melon don't advertise, because they don't have to.

The only thing worse than taking out a loan to get an education is taking out a loan to get an education that doesn't turn out to actually be worth anything. If you find yourself not having learned anything useful, or to any great depth, then your education will have been too shallow to land you a job, and you'll be saddled with debt that will make it unlikely you'll be able to seek additional education to correct the problem.

My last roomate got a degree from a technical school (It may have been collins, actually) as a circuitboard technician (essentially troubleshooting on the production line and making minor repairs) probably 8-10 years ago, costing him north of 60k at the time. He made a decent run at reasonable wages, maybe $20/hr in the years following he training then the jobs moved or were outsoursed and wages were driven down to where he was making about $10/hr before leaving arizona for Washington. After 6 months here he managed to get a job testing returns at Nintendo's warehouse for $10/hr, and they eventually moved him over to the repair station making about $15/hr since he had soldering experience.

I'm not trying to scare you off this track necessarily, but be sure that you've thought about your decision, evaluated other options (there are many game development/design degrees around the states), and are sure this is what you really want to do. Its not clear whether you want to go into engineering or design, but I imagine that there's maybe a couple thousand "game designer" jobs nationwide, and maybe another 10 thousand if you lump in "level designers", "UI designers" and other niche "designer" titles. I'd bet, also, that Collins and the like will graduate maybe 1000 "design" graduates this year who will be competing with you, in addition to the more traditionally trained folks who just like gaming and thought it'd be an interesting career move. This has to be a reasoned decision, not the impulse of a 16 year old kid, because it will effect the rest of your life. Also alwasy keep in mind that the game industry is real, hard work, and that it often calls on you to work longer hours at less pay than many similarly skilled workers do -- Its not about sipping Soda in a comfy chair musing about how you need to "Tighten up the graphics on level 3".

Many will disagree with me, but I'm of the oppinion that a sub-par education is worse than no education at all if its going to saddle you with debt.

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Original post by Ravyne
If I'm not mistaken, Collins College is one of, what many of us like to call, the as-seen-on-TV educational institutions.

If true, then I withdraw my "Good" above. One should go for a lower-tier school like those, or the online-only degrees, only as a last resort -- to LEARN whatever you can AFFORD to learn (not for the piece of paper).
You can only afford what you can afford, and there's no shame in that. But yeah, the as-seen-on-TV thing is lower-tier.

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Original post by mikiex
This is true, a better way to do it is to throw half the applicants into a bin, why? Well these are the unlucky people.

That would be equally dumb

In the company I work for which is sizable and in the top 50 most sucessful game developers in the world, we have a system and review all candidates and do not cull based on degrees because there are a lot of talented people out there.
Yes a degree is a good thing to have but equally there are some awful candidates that have them.


And more awful candidates that don't. Do you disagree with this assertion? I mean unless you're mathematically incompetent I can't see how you think randomly chucking resumes is better than dropping people without degrees.

If your company has a process or enough cheap, technically competent resume reviewers to make a thorough vetting of resumes cost effective, good for you. You are the minority.

Look, I'm a professional programmer without a degree who's been in the workforce for 12 years now. I've seen plenty of good programmers without a degree. You don't need to sell me that there's good qualified candidates in that pool. It does not matter. All other experience being equal, the guy with the degree will get the interview/offer. In this job market, there's plenty of other candidates with the same or better experience.

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Not quite what you were asking, but what is quite common is for companies to offer to pay for your school while you're doing a co-op or internship, in exchange for you staying on.

To give a few examples, my second co-op position was with a Vancouver based game company where I worked on casual games. Towards the end of my 8 month co-op, the CEO offered to hire me outright with a bonus if I quit school. I refused, of course. He then offered to pay for the rest of my school if I stayed on at least part-time, which I also refused because I was confident I could get better grades and a decent job after school anyway - I'm fortunate to have had my parents pay for 100% of my school expenses, however. (And yes, I did talk to my parents about the offers.) :P

A similar thing happened to a colleague of mine when he joined a different company. He had quit university to make some money, and his new employer offered to pay for the rest of his school if he stayed on instead of going back to school after a year. He'll be working full-time and going to classes part-time.

These might be a good option for you. You can get a co-op or internship (which I HIGHLY recommend anyway) as soon as your 2nd year. If you get an offer like the above, that would essentially pay for half your school while you're earning money - a significant dent in your debt.

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Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
Quote:
Original post by mikiex
This is true, a better way to do it is to throw half the applicants into a bin, why? Well these are the unlucky people.

That would be equally dumb

In the company I work for which is sizable and in the top 50 most sucessful game developers in the world, we have a system and review all candidates and do not cull based on degrees because there are a lot of talented people out there.
Yes a degree is a good thing to have but equally there are some awful candidates that have them.


And more awful candidates that don't. Do you disagree with this assertion? I mean unless you're mathematically incompetent I can't see how you think randomly chucking resumes is better than dropping people without degrees.

If your company has a process or enough cheap, technically competent resume reviewers to make a thorough vetting of resumes cost effective, good for you. You are the minority.

Look, I'm a professional programmer without a degree who's been in the workforce for 12 years now. I've seen plenty of good programmers without a degree. You don't need to sell me that there's good qualified candidates in that pool. It does not matter. All other experience being equal, the guy with the degree will get the interview/offer. In this job market, there's plenty of other candidates with the same or better experience.


culling candidates by degree may not be equal to throwing half in the bin, but its as bad a practice. Yes we have a process to go through applications and any reasonable size business should, we dont cull based on degrees and thats a fact and maybe why we have such good success.

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