For the past few conferences I’ve attended, I have been asking people what the best advice they had for students or anyone else wanting to get in the industry was. The responses ranged from amazing to really, that’s your answer? At times it feels like people don’t want to help students get into the industry, but that’s why I am here to help by compiling my knowledge of what people have told me and what I have learned in college and sharing it with everyone. Here are the top five pieces of advice I have received from industry professionals about breaking into the industry:
1.“Always be persistent”- This seems like a pretty simple piece of advice, but in all honesty think of how many times we have all given up or wanted to give up with something and then afterwards realized just how close we were to achieving our goal and dream.
2.”Network Network Network”- Again, this might seem like a no-brainer, but the contacts and people you meet will be key to your success, whether it be Joe Bob the 23rd from EA Antarctica or Frank the game tester. Never blow off a possible contact. If you talk to that person even for 5 minutes about some random minuscule topic, try to give them your business card and then do a follow up e-mail a few days later saying how great it was meeting them and then try and show you remember your conversation. If possible, always try to keep in contact with your contacts so they remember who you are.
3.”Always be prepared”- You never know when or where you will get your first big break in this industry, or who will give it to you, so always be prepared. Keep business cards on you at all times. Try (I do mean this literally, as I have a hard time trying to do it still) to be professional. Don’t get too drunk at an after party or get together location because you do not want to be completely hammered in front of your future boss and or co-workers.
4. “Be open to learning new skills”- Don’t book yourself as only that guy who does narrative. Try and broaden your skills to learn new things, like a little bit of level design, or even a little bit of audio. That way you are able to communicate with other team members better when the time comes. It also makes a more rounded employee for someone to hire. On the other hand, don’t market yourself as a jack of all trades. It makes it look like you have no interest in any particular field, and that it doesn’t matter to you what job you do.
5.”Get lucky”- When I first heard this piece of advice, I thought they guy was being a dick to me. After sitting and dwelling on it for a while, though, I realized he was right. Half of this industry is timing. You’ve got to be there at the right time, talking to the right person just for that right job. You never know if you will be getting lucky with the job that you want until you are about to give up (one of the reasons “always be persistent” is such great advice).