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Recent Graduate Looking For Advice

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Hello my name is Chris Angelico I recently graduated with my bachelors in CS and I was looking for advice on finding work doing game programming. I am currently located in Pennsylvania about 1.5 hours away from philly.

 

Here is what I am currently doing/done:

 

  • Emailed contacts I have made in the past.
  • Recently went to a game dev night in philly and hopefully will continue to in the future. (This is tough because of my location)
  • Planning to take a trip to New York for a Game and Media Career Fair on June 4th.
  • Making new business cards for the New York trip, not sure what design to do really.
  • Trying to make a blog/portfolio that looks halfway decent (christopher-angelico.blogspot.com its a work in progress).
  • Slowly making progress on my personal project.

Any other advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. As a side note I also have two associates degrees, one in 3D Design and Animation and one in Game and Simulation Design.

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Have you actually, you know, applied for any jobs? Because that seems like one of the most important things you should do, and it isn't on your list (unless that's what you did when you "emailed contacts," but even that you should still applying to positions where you don't already know people as well).

 

How open are you to the idea of relocating? Philadelphia is not exactly a hotbed of game development.

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Have you tried searching for game programming jobs? Do you know any studios where you want to work?

I could just be old-fashioned and bad at networking, but I thought business cards are for people who have a job already. Maybe I could have done better, but I've managed to find work without ever making my own business cards, writing a blog, going to a career fair, or participating in any game nights/jams. I did make a portfolio when I first started out. It was really, really bad.

I looked at your web site. There's one obvious thing missing: programming. You want a game programming job, right? You mention a little about Unity programming, and there may be more buried in an actual article somewhere, but on the surface, you're presenting yourself as a game designer and artist. It's good to be enthusiastic about games and design as a programmer, but it's better to demonstrate that you actually want to do some programming, and that you know how to program.

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Chris, have you considered "Location, Location, Location" in your work search? Check gamedevmap.com and
see if there are any game companies near you in Pennsylvania - maybe some Carnegie Mellon grads have
started companies? If no opportunities are near you, you'll need to strongly consider moving. See
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m84.htm - and while I'm at it, have you read this forum's FAQs yet?
BTW, it was I who changed the title of your thread (changed "work" to "advice," in keeping with this
forum's policy against jobhunting posts).

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Sorry for the delay on the reply.

 

Have you actually, you know, applied for any jobs? Because that seems like one of the most important things you should do, and it isn't on your list (unless that's what you did when you "emailed contacts," but even that you should still applying to positions where you don't already know people as well).

 

How open are you to the idea of relocating? Philadelphia is not exactly a hotbed of game development.

When I posted the answer would have been no, but as of now I have applied to two places so far. Right now my biggest challenge is finding companies to apply for. I had just been looking in the PA/NY area so far.

 

I am open to relocating though.

 

Have you tried searching for game programming jobs? Do you know any studios where you want to work?

I could just be old-fashioned and bad at networking, but I thought business cards are for people who have a job already. Maybe I could have done better, but I've managed to find work without ever making my own business cards, writing a blog, going to a career fair, or participating in any game nights/jams. I did make a portfolio when I first started out. It was really, really bad.

I looked at your web site. There's one obvious thing missing: programming. You want a game programming job, right? You mention a little about Unity programming, and there may be more buried in an actual article somewhere, but on the surface, you're presenting yourself as a game designer and artist. It's good to be enthusiastic about games and design as a programmer, but it's better to demonstrate that you actually want to do some programming, and that you know how to program.

 

I have searched for game programming jobs, mainly as I said before in PA/NY, I am trying to stay on the East Coast because I feel like leaving would just be part of the reason why a lot of the industry isn't here. That said push comes to shove I will probably end up going where the work is. The are of course studios I would love to work, and I have applied to two thus far and more to come.

 

Everywhere Ive looked and many I have asked have said to have business cards. How did you keep in touch with people you met? How did they find you?

 

I agree with you about my site and it is something I am working on figuring out. I have a github page, but most of it is school work. What is the best way to "show off" programming skills?

Chris, have you considered "Location, Location, Location" in your work search? Check gamedevmap.com and
see if there are any game companies near you in Pennsylvania - maybe some Carnegie Mellon grads have
started companies? If no opportunities are near you, you'll need to strongly consider moving. See
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m84.htm - and while I'm at it, have you read this forum's FAQs yet?
BTW, it was I who changed the title of your thread (changed "work" to "advice," in keeping with this
forum's policy against jobhunting posts).

I have consulted gamedevmap.com and looked through the companies in my area as well as those in NY. I may need to expand my search. The whole idea of moving somewhere first still seems like a risk to me. I get what you as saying and I even know someone who has done it successfully. That said I don't know what I would even do as a side job right now. If I am moving someone else I need to know I can find a job if not the one I want, then something else that will pay the bills and has benefits. Part of my hesitation is because right now I  don't have a plan B in terms of jobs I could do an be ok doing for a while and making games on the side. I know I like to program games, or more specifically game mechanics. In terms of regular software development I find that programming can be interesting to me if I have a deep interest in the software itself or the benefit it provides. Something like data manipulation software, school administration software, taxes or financial software don't really give me interest me that much, which I feel kinda limits my possibilities.

 

To answer you last question I have been making my way through the FAQ section.

 

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Well your portfolio needs a rework. You said so yourself, but this is important! It does not need to be super shining, but it needs to be obvious why they should hire you and what you have done/can do.

 

Disclaimer: I might be exaggerating a lot here. Your purpose of handing out business cards should be to direct them to your portfolio, your purpose of sending them emails is to direct them to your portfolio, and your purpose of talking with people is to have a good icebreaker when sending them an email... directing them to your portfolio.

 

You can safely assume that no future employer will ever stumble upon your portfolio without being directed there by you. So dedicating the entire landing page to yourself helps no one. Employers clicking your link does so to see what you can do, so put your top three projects on there (Yes that means screenshots!). You can still write a short friendly text about yourself, but this is not their main focus.

 

The section of your page called portfolio is currently not helping you getting a job as a game programmer. Being versatile is a big plus, so by all means show your graphical skills, but consider doing it in a context showing that you can incorporate it into a development pipeline, i.e. you have pixel art enough for a small game (balloon collecting coins while avoiding birds) so make the game.

 

You do have a great project with your Super Mario, so move it somewhere visible :) and add deeplink to the images.

 

 

I hope this is helpful :) Basically change your mindset on your portfolio from "What do I like to do" to "What do a future employer care about". You can have all the rest, but make sure to show your skills on the very first page.

 

Also rename the bio to contact, and add contact information.

 

 

Oh, and go to game jams :) !!!

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Well your portfolio needs a rework. You said so yourself, but this is important! It does not need to be super shining, but it needs to be obvious why they should hire you and what you have done/can do.

Disclaimer: I might be exaggerating a lot here. Your purpose of handing out business cards should be to direct them to your portfolio, your purpose of sending them emails is to direct them to your portfolio, and your purpose of talking with people is to have a good icebreaker when sending them an email... directing them to your portfolio.

You can safely assume that no future employer will ever stumble upon your portfolio without being directed there by you. So dedicating the entire landing page to yourself helps no one. Employers clicking your link does so to see what you can do, so put your top three projects on there (Yes that means screenshots!). You can still write a short friendly text about yourself, but this is not their main focus.

The section of your page called portfolio is currently not helping you getting a job as a game programmer. Being versatile is a big plus, so by all means show your graphical skills, but consider doing it in a context showing that you can incorporate it into a development pipeline, i.e. you have pixel art enough for a small game (balloon collecting coins while avoiding birds) so make the game.

You do have a great project with your Super Mario, so move it somewhere visible :) and add deeplink to the images.


I hope this is helpful :) Basically change your mindset on your portfolio from "What do I like to do" to "What do a future employer care about". You can have all the rest, but make sure to show your skills on the very first page.

Also rename the bio to contact, and add contact information.


Oh, and go to game jams :) !!!

Ok so I am assuming you saw my site in a state I have made it recently (you mentioned the landing page being my Bio which was a new change). So you recommend putting my "Game" section as my landing page? If you've seen it recently you will noticed I made a nav bar to show different games based on where they are in development (Developing, Finished, Limbo, Design Document). Do you recommend mixing these together again? I had it as one long page, but it was very ugly and not well formatted. Also what do you mean by deep linking?
So are you suggesting axing the portfolio page entirely? I significantly reduced it to make it a bit nicer looking, but as you said it might not really help my case.

The game you mention with the balloon and birds is actually a game (probably should have included that) that I recently dug back up and am in the process of adding it to the site. Again as I mentioned before not sure how to format it. I do want to add more pictures. Would you recommend videos of gameplay as well?

For the bio are you suggestion removing the bio info entirely, or just renaming it to contact and adding contact information as well?

Lastly I really do want to do game jams, I just haven't had many opportunities to do them. The closest place that does them is Philly which unless I drive gives me a time limit for how long I can stay. Basically its close to a 4 hour round trip for 3.5 hours of time at the venue. I spend on average equal to more time traveling then do I do there which is frustrating.

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Basically its close to a 4 hour round trip for 3.5 hours of time at the venue. I spend on average equal to more time traveling then do I do there which is frustrating.

 

Which surprised me you saying that, since earlier you mention this:

 

 

 

Lastly I really do want to do game jams, I just haven't had many opportunities to do them

 

For me the trip itself  also would have been fun, all excited driving there in anticipation of awesome time. And after the jam, most likely I would be on endorphin high which would make my trip back also a fun drive. If you have motivation and desire, then small inconveniences like that are small compared what you gain. You could possibly meet new contacts, who could help in getting your foot in the door in game companies. As our esteem Tom Sloper says: networking, networking, networking*

 

 

* Maybe I am paraphrasing him :)

Edited by DoctorGlow

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Basically its close to a 4 hour round trip for 3.5 hours of time at the venue. I spend on average equal to more time traveling then do I do there which is frustrating.

 

Which surprised me you saying that, since earlier you mention this:

 

 

 

Lastly I really do want to do game jams, I just haven't had many opportunities to do them

 

For me the trip itself  also would have been fun, all excited driving there in anticipation of awesome time. And after the jam, most likely I would be on endorphin high which would make my trip back also a fun drive. If you have motivation and desire, then small inconveniences like that are small compared what you gain. You could possibly meet new contacts, who could help in getting your foot in the door in game companies. As our esteem Tom Sloper says: networking, networking, networking*

 

 

* Maybe I am paraphrasing him :)

 

Up until recently I had school to worry about. The game jams were on Thursdays late at night, not sure if you ever drove in Philly by yourself before, but its not fun and especially at night. So when I finally started making it out there it was kinda awkward since I didn't really know anyone, on top of this there wasn't an online community for it outside of a paid subscription that gave you access to the building and a slack chat, which as a recent graduate I didn't quite have the money to shell out for on top of the tickets to travel down there (or gas/parking if I drove). This is all besides the studio who was hosting recently moved so game jams are apparently on a hiatus right now until a new location is sorta out.

 

I know this sounds like just a bunch of complaining, but the truth is I do all of this stuff for a reason and when I feel like I am not getting anything out of it I feel disappointed. I went to New York recently for a job fair and it was actually a lot of fun despite being very small. I am a pretty social person, but it can be hard in certain situations when a group kinda already has their own thing going and you don't really feel like you fit in. The lack of opportunities for me to get to know the group like this outside of the few times I could go make it hard to make any real connections especially in the small amount of time I had to be there.

 

Anyway I was wondering if anyone would be willing to critic my resume? I attached it to the post. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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I dont understand, you say you're looking for a game programming job, but your webpage says you're a designer and the "portfolio" page has stuff that is not programming related.  Are you trying to be a designer or a programmer?  If that page just a general page for yourself or do you want it to be about your programming/developer aspirations?

 

I can tell you that if I saw a link to this page and I'm looking to hire a programmer, I'd look in the portfolio section and then immediately leave.  There's just nothing of interest there for a possible employer. 

 

One other thing, if you're going to have a section about games you've worked on or are currently working on, try to have interesting things for each one like screenshots, videos, concept drawings, etc.  

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