I apologize if this borders on a rant, but there has been something bothering me for a while now. I frequently notice industry professionals exhibiting what could politely be described as an aversion to students… and I completely understand! Getting shaken down for a job opportunity every time you come in contact with a student would certainly snowball into a terrible impression!
In the interest of game development students everywhere, I’m putting out a call to action. Students: step up your professionalism and properly represent yourself and your peers. We need to make the term “student” into something that looks promising, not something that makes people cringe!
To help you, I’ve got some tips and a major resource lined up.
First off, if you aren’t familiar with it, Darius Kazemi has this great blog about Effective Networking in the Game Industry. Greenhorns and veterans alike find this to be an extremely useful resource, so please be sure to read it. In fact, I hereby declare this a required reading for all game development students.
Next, conduct yourself in a courteous manner. My tips probably run the risk of repeating things from the required reading, but based on what I’ve seen, I feel it’s worth reiterating.
Beyond just being polite and respectful, you must be empathetic. Pay attention to who you’re talking to and any signals they might be giving you so you can be accommodating. For instance, if someone is clearly in a hurry or leaving, just let them know it was great to meet them and try to follow up later.
Be a sponge. Be humble. You do not have the wisdom these developers possess from years of experience, so take in what they’re willing to share with you. Unless you’ve been specifically asked, don’t ramble on about your projects, pitch ideas, or otherwise waste people’s time. If you have a golden opportunity to learn something from someone, please realize it.
Don’t be over-aggressive about wanting a job. I understand you need to be employed, but being pushy or inconsiderate is going to result in the opposite outcome. When developers are out at events, having a good time, networking, or learning, they’re not looking to hire you on the spot. Realize there’s a time and a place. There’s also a hiring manager, so don’t ask random people from a company to hire you.
Be honest and genuine. If you’re truly passionate about game development and know your stuff, these traits will shine through with your overall attitude and the way you carry yourself. Don’t ever exaggerate or fake it to try to impress someone. Again, you’ll just be getting the opposite result.
I could probably go on forever with tips, but I think this is a good starting point. Beyond what I’ve listed here, the vast and plentiful internet extends before you in all directions. Use it. There are more resources available than ever before! Heed the call to action!