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Recent Grad Job Hunting

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#1 AbedBraff   Members   

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 03:32 PM

So I just graduated with a B.Sc in Computer Science and a minor in Math (including linear algebra).  First things first, I started the job hunt late (first apps sent in around 4/25).  Not much I can do now except move forward, but keep that in mind.

 

I'm having trouble (1) finding entry level or junior positions available and (2) getting any kind of headway at all.  I'd like to ask a few questions first, and I'll try to keep them brief.

 

1)  How strict are language requirements for applications generally?  I've seen jobs listed as entry level that list upwards of a dozen different languages.

 

2)  What jobs should I be looking for as a recent grad?  I'm aware people specialize over time, but since I'm just starting out, the most specific I can be right now is just "programmer" or "software engineer".  I've checked out orcahq, gamedevmap also.  I've also applied for some QA jobs thinking I could move up the ladder later.

I've also applied to a solid amount of non-gaming companies.

 

3)  I've gotten responses back from non-interested parties that I sent in applications for almost a month ago.  Is this standard?  And what's a hit/miss ratio I should be expecting because I've gotten almost no hits in probably 100+ applications.

 

It just seems like unless you spent all your free time doing projects and in internships you have no chance.  I'm applying to every size of company on every level of the spectrum, so don't think I'm just applying to EA, NaughtyDog, Blizzard, etc and being confused why I don't get chosen.  I understand I have no chance compared to other candidates for spots like that.

 

I've been looking on the west coast as a whole (California, Washington state, Oregon), Austin (TX), Boston, and Chicago.  One thing to note is that I live in central Illinois (about 2 hours from Chicago).  I'm worried that might be scaring off some hiring managers that see I live half a country away.  I've added that I plan on moving as part of the main body of my cover letter, though.

 

Transitioning to that, I'll attach my resume to this post.  My objective statement of what I can offer I include as the body of my cover letter and edit it as needed for each application.

 

I'll also note that I'll be working on learning Unity in my free time now as well as job searching, although job searching is by far my first priority.  I'm open to other recommendations for the best languages to learn.

 

My current portfolio can be found at: http://github.com/AbedBraff

 

Right now I'm not sure what to do except widen my search in terms of locations, but it seems like I'm not getting any bites regardless, so that seems pointless.  I'm really just feeling kind of lost and like I did when I was younger looking at "entry" applications that say "5+ year experience" which seems like its barely hyperbole at this point.

 

Any help appreciated.  Also, I'm new here sooo....Hi everyone!  Thanks in advance for any replies.

 

Attached File  ZacharyMitchellCV.pdf   48.81KB   24 downloads



#2 TheChubu   Members   

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 04:48 PM

I don't understand the relevance of the games you like to play.

I don't like the description of your projects. It'd be more informative to do it like: "Blackjack: Made a blackjack game as a desktop application with animations for drawing and placing the cards,  I was in charge of making the art for the cards and the desk, and around half of the code of the final project" or something along those lines, detailing what the project is and what you did in it.

You see, "Blackjack" could be anything, a console game, a full blown web app with online matches, etc.

Thats my opinion on it. Also why the OpenGL project isn't listed? That could catch the eye of an employer, you should also list it and describe what it is, not just "uses fixed function pipeline and loops" or something.


Edited by TheChubu, 18 May 2017 - 04:52 PM.

"I AM ZE EMPRAH OPENGL 3.3 THE CORE, I DEMAND FROM THEE ZE SHADERZ AND MATRIXEZ"

 

My journals: dustArtemis ECS framework and Making a Terrain Generator


#3 frob   Moderators   

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 05:05 PM

One thing to note is that I live in central Illinois (about 2 hours from Chicago).  I'm worried that might be scaring off some hiring managers that see I live half a country away.

I suspect that is the big one.

It is hard enough breaking in to the industry, and well-qualified people sometimes can go for extended periods before they get their first industry job if they even get that job at all.

Universally, job hunting is hard, especially when it is limited to a small number of businesses in a region or a small industry, and games are typically both. Even in cities that are game development hubs there might only be 5 to 10 job openings at any particularly across all the companies across the entire year.  One small stable studio over an entire year might hire 2 entry level, 4 mid-level, 2 seniors, again that's over a full year.  Sometimes game companies enter a period of growth or staff up for a new project, and then you've got a 1-2 month window of opportunity where a larger group is hired all at once, perhaps 20-30 people across multiple disciplines. 

At the entry level the good companies have plenty of unsolicited applications, and when management asks workers to recommend people for an entry level programming workers they will immediately get a short stack of good applications.

Unfortunately for you, it is rare to relocate an entry level worker. They can already generate a list of people who live within commuting distance.

Sometimes companies get a little desperate -- for various reasons such as low pay or bad reputation they cannot get local workers -- and they will relocate entry level workers, but that is usually a warning sign by itself.

This is different for people with several years of experience, particularly those with several years and several shipped games, but at the entry level you generally need to be where the developers are, and even in development hub cities you'll face a struggle to get the job.


Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.


#4 AbedBraff   Members   

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:04 PM

I don't understand the relevance of the games you like to play.

I don't like the description of your projects. It'd be more informative to do it like: "Blackjack: Made a blackjack game as a desktop application with animations for drawing and placing the cards,  I was in charge of making the art for the cards and the desk, and around half of the code of the final project" or something along those lines, detailing what the project is and what you did in it.

You see, "Blackjack" could be anything, a console game, a full blown web app with online matches, etc.

Thats my opinion on it. Also why the OpenGL project isn't listed? That could catch the eye of an employer, you should also list it and describe what it is, not just "uses fixed function pipeline and loops" or something.

 

I definitely see your points and they make sense to me.  Will update the wording a bit.  On thinking it over, I also agree there's no point for listing games on the resume.  I can add a few in my cover if asked for.  I've seen a few companies ask what games you've played recently so it makes more sense to go there as it doesn't really fit into what a resume is supposed to be for.

 

Thanks for the input!



#5 AbedBraff   Members   

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:15 PM

 

One thing to note is that I live in central Illinois (about 2 hours from Chicago).  I'm worried that might be scaring off some hiring managers that see I live half a country away.

I suspect that is the big one.

It is hard enough breaking in to the industry, and well-qualified people sometimes can go for extended periods before they get their first industry job if they even get that job at all.

Universally, job hunting is hard, especially when it is limited to a small number of businesses in a region or a small industry, and games are typically both. Even in cities that are game development hubs there might only be 5 to 10 job openings at any particularly across all the companies across the entire year.  One small stable studio over an entire year might hire 2 entry level, 4 mid-level, 2 seniors, again that's over a full year.  Sometimes game companies enter a period of growth or staff up for a new project, and then you've got a 1-2 month window of opportunity where a larger group is hired all at once, perhaps 20-30 people across multiple disciplines. 

At the entry level the good companies have plenty of unsolicited applications, and when management asks workers to recommend people for an entry level programming workers they will immediately get a short stack of good applications.

Unfortunately for you, it is rare to relocate an entry level worker. They can already generate a list of people who live within commuting distance.

Sometimes companies get a little desperate -- for various reasons such as low pay or bad reputation they cannot get local workers -- and they will relocate entry level workers, but that is usually a warning sign by itself.

This is different for people with several years of experience, particularly those with several years and several shipped games, but at the entry level you generally need to be where the developers are, and even in development hub cities you'll face a struggle to get the job.

 

This is what I'm starting to slowly realize.  It's just obviously annoying as a recent grad because I'm expected to move to an area with the jobs.  The areas with more jobs are typically going to be more expensive to live in, but I don't have an actual job yet and I'm a broke college student.

Dealing with all that stuff isn't what this forum is about, so I'll go start doing my own research and all that.  And I understand why it works that way, it just puts 99% of recent grads in this really awkward, precarious position unless your parents are rich/fund your way, or you put in enough work on side projects, etc to land a job straight away.

Thank you!



#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:02 AM

I've been looking on the west coast as a whole (California, Washington state, Oregon), Austin (TX), Boston, and Chicago. One thing to note is that I live in central Illinois (about 2 hours from Chicago). I'm worried that might be scaring off some hiring managers that see I live half a country away. I've added that I plan on moving as part of the main body of my cover letter, though.


That's a strategy that has a very low probability of success. Read FAQ 84. http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m84.htm
And read the other FAQs for this forum - see the Getting Started sidebar at the right side -->
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#7 Kylotan   Moderators   

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:39 AM

1)  How strict are language requirements for applications generally?  I've seen jobs listed as entry level that list upwards of a dozen different languages.

 
Varies from company to company. Often there will be at least one language they won't compromise on, because that's their main language. For traditional games companies, that's probably C++. For mobile, it might be C# (in the Unity context), or Java, or maybe something else.

Don't focus on how many languages you know; focus on which languages are being asked for the most, and consider learning them.
 

2)  What jobs should I be looking for as a recent grad?  I'm aware people specialize over time, but since I'm just starting out, the most specific I can be right now is just "programmer" or "software engineer".  I've checked out orcahq, gamedevmap also.  I've also applied for some QA jobs thinking I could move up the ladder later.
I've also applied to a solid amount of non-gaming companies.

 
Software engineer, software developer, programmer, all fine. Those are the skills you have, so those are the skills you will be paid for.
 

3)  I've gotten responses back from non-interested parties that I sent in applications for almost a month ago.  Is this standard?  And what's a hit/miss ratio I should be expecting because I've gotten almost no hits in probably 100+ applications.

 
This would be a meaningless figure. The more jobs you apply to, the less time you are able to dedicate to individual applications, and the more likely you're applying out of desperation, so success rate is likely to drop. I would argue that you're better off making very highly-targeted applications towards a small (single-digit) number of companies.
 

It just seems like unless you spent all your free time doing projects and in internships you have no chance.  I'm applying to every size of company on every level of the spectrum, so don't think I'm just applying to EA, NaughtyDog, Blizzard, etc and being confused why I don't get chosen.  I understand I have no chance compared to other candidates for spots like that.

 
It is rather unfair, but you are competing in a market with people who do spend all their free time on personal programming projects. Consider doing the same, if you can, at least until you get your foot in the door.
 

My current portfolio can be found at: http://github.com/AbedBraff


The first warning sign I see is that you have no commit history in these repos. Employers like to see that you know how to use source control, that you can write a good commit message, etc.

Other criticisms would be that you rarely use comments, you mix tabs and spaces, you include your entire C++ programs in one .cpp file, you use #defines instead of constants, you use global variables, you have a lot of copy and paste code rather than factoring out shared variables, you use 'magic' numbers instead of constants, you don't separate your assets from your code, etc. There is a lot to improve here. Obviously you're only a junior but employers do judge code quality and we don't want to spend a lot of time teaching good code quality.

I strongly recommend working on either improving this code or working on a new project to show improved code, so that you have something good to show prospective employers. (Then you can remove the less impressive previous work.)
 



#8 AbedBraff   Members   

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 10:21 AM

 

1)  How strict are language requirements for applications generally?  I've seen jobs listed as entry level that list upwards of a dozen different languages.

 
Varies from company to company. Often there will be at least one language they won't compromise on, because that's their main language. For traditional games companies, that's probably C++. For mobile, it might be C# (in the Unity context), or Java, or maybe something else.

Don't focus on how many languages you know; focus on which languages are being asked for the most, and consider learning them.
 

2)  What jobs should I be looking for as a recent grad?  I'm aware people specialize over time, but since I'm just starting out, the most specific I can be right now is just "programmer" or "software engineer".  I've checked out orcahq, gamedevmap also.  I've also applied for some QA jobs thinking I could move up the ladder later.
I've also applied to a solid amount of non-gaming companies.

 
Software engineer, software developer, programmer, all fine. Those are the skills you have, so those are the skills you will be paid for.
 

3)  I've gotten responses back from non-interested parties that I sent in applications for almost a month ago.  Is this standard?  And what's a hit/miss ratio I should be expecting because I've gotten almost no hits in probably 100+ applications.

 
This would be a meaningless figure. The more jobs you apply to, the less time you are able to dedicate to individual applications, and the more likely you're applying out of desperation, so success rate is likely to drop. I would argue that you're better off making very highly-targeted applications towards a small (single-digit) number of companies.
 

It just seems like unless you spent all your free time doing projects and in internships you have no chance.  I'm applying to every size of company on every level of the spectrum, so don't think I'm just applying to EA, NaughtyDog, Blizzard, etc and being confused why I don't get chosen.  I understand I have no chance compared to other candidates for spots like that.

 
It is rather unfair, but you are competing in a market with people who do spend all their free time on personal programming projects. Consider doing the same, if you can, at least until you get your foot in the door.
 

My current portfolio can be found at: http://github.com/AbedBraff


The first warning sign I see is that you have no commit history in these repos. Employers like to see that you know how to use source control, that you can write a good commit message, etc.

Other criticisms would be that you rarely use comments, you mix tabs and spaces, you include your entire C++ programs in one .cpp file, you use #defines instead of constants, you use global variables, you have a lot of copy and paste code rather than factoring out shared variables, you use 'magic' numbers instead of constants, you don't separate your assets from your code, etc. There is a lot to improve here. Obviously you're only a junior but employers do judge code quality and we don't want to spend a lot of time teaching good code quality.

I strongly recommend working on either improving this code or working on a new project to show improved code, so that you have something good to show prospective employers. (Then you can remove the less impressive previous work.)
 

 

Thanks for the info.

In regards to the code issues, the first thing to note is I learned git after having already finished those projects.  I can make some changes based on your suggestions to solve both problems.

I suspect (correct me if I'm wrong) that you only looked at the Graphics Project.  The fact is that there is most definitely a lot pasted from previous projects.  Obviously, that was done because it was coursework, but I know I should use good programming practice regardless.  I will do fixes on that and update via git to hit two birds with one stone.

tl;dr I had a bunch of projects/finals and the Graphics Project goal was just to get a finished working scene so I abandoned good practice when I shouldn't have.  It is most definitely not representative of my best skill and practice.  Will fix asap.

Thank you for the feedback!



#9 dpadam450   Members   

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 12:22 PM

A repository isn't really a portfolio in my opinion. It doesn't even have your resume on there. Get a free website host and if you want to create a projects page with some basic pictures or video.

It just seems like unless you spent all your free time doing projects and in internships you have no chance.

Most game people love what they do and a lot of graduates from random CS degrees can't even do string reversal or know the difference between arrays/vectors/linked lists. There was a time at EA before I worked there in which I heard they wouldn't even look at Full Sail programming graduates, even though 3 or 4 people on my team graduated from there before. The quality of candidates in interviews were bad so they just all together gave up.

When I graduated I had a pretty sweet game with my own entire engine supporting 3D animations, character I modeled and animated, shadows, gameplay etc. I interviewed at maybe 15 different places. Sometimes you lose jobs to other people, sometimes you realize something dumb or wrong you said in your interview. At that time I applied to Insomniac Games, I took their 2 hour test and got a call back next week were a guy said, you did extremely well on the test but you don't have the experience we are looking for. And that was that.

Basically, you never know why you get overlooked, but for games jobs, there are definitely good people out there applying alongside you. My first job was a medical software job.  The best thing you can do is make some kind of 3D game, no matter how simple it is.


 



#10 AbedBraff   Members   

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 01:00 PM

A repository isn't really a portfolio in my opinion. It doesn't even have your resume on there. Get a free website host and if you want to create a projects page with some basic pictures or video.

It just seems like unless you spent all your free time doing projects and in internships you have no chance.

Most game people love what they do and a lot of graduates from random CS degrees can't even do string reversal or know the difference between arrays/vectors/linked lists. There was a time at EA before I worked there in which I heard they wouldn't even look at Full Sail programming graduates, even though 3 or 4 people on my team graduated from there before. The quality of candidates in interviews were bad so they just all together gave up.

When I graduated I had a pretty sweet game with my own entire engine supporting 3D animations, character I modeled and animated, shadows, gameplay etc. I interviewed at maybe 15 different places. Sometimes you lose jobs to other people, sometimes you realize something dumb or wrong you said in your interview. At that time I applied to Insomniac Games, I took their 2 hour test and got a call back next week were a guy said, you did extremely well on the test but you don't have the experience we are looking for. And that was that.

Basically, you never know why you get overlooked, but for games jobs, there are definitely good people out there applying alongside you. My first job was a medical software job.  The best thing you can do is make some kind of 3D game, no matter how simple it is.


 

Fair point on the portfolio thing.  Changed it on my resume so it just says projects.  I'll look into a free site to host stuff like that on as well.

I'm definitely somewhere in the middle of you and that lowest common denominator.  That's baffling to me that people wouldn't know those things having graduated with a CS degree.  I had a really good Data Structures II professor and he made sure to ingrain in us most of the major data structures (array, single & double lists, stack, heap, maps, etc) and their time complexities and we had to implement each and every aspect for all of them including ordered and unordered.  It was a lot of work over the course of the semester, but I by far learned some of the most useful info in that course.

 

Thanks for the response!