This past week, UAT was hosting Tech Forums here at the school. Essentially, this is where the school actually brings in professionals from the industry to talk to the students. To be perfectly clear these aren’t just people in the games industry that are brought in to speak with the students but rather people from many different branches of the technology fields. However my focus is mainly on those who came from the games industry because that is my interest and degree. Anyway though, the Tech Forum is awesome for a whole variety of reasons: you can find out what’s going on in the industry, the presentations are fascinating, learn new things, you can even discover new fields that you might not have thought about until now.
Jonathan Banks who currently works at Bungie as an Environment Artist and has worked on titles like Destiny and The Walking Dead spoke about his working leading up to him getting a job within the industry. One of the school’s alumni, Erin Ali, is currently a Senior Executive Producer at Blizzard Entertainment and spoke about how there is more to the industry than art, design or programming. Tamir Nadav is a Project Manager at Rockyou and talked about a lot about what a Project Manager does, as well as how he got a job in the industry. In fact, that last part was something that nearly every speaker talked about in some capacity and there was a common theme to the answers; YOU HAVE TO TALK TO PEOPLE!
During this Tech Forum the students have the opportunity to speak with the presenters. I actually had the opportunity to speak with all of the people that mentioned before outside of their presentations and it was amazing. Listening to them is fascinating and just reaffirms that I want to be a part of that industry. However it can’t be stressed enough that they’re just people, a fact that at times seem lost upon some of my friends. They couldn’t seem to fathom actually speaking with someone from one of these companies because they just didn’t know what to say to them. This becomes a problem because getting a job within the tech industry is often a product of actually knowing someone within the field already. Even once you get into a company, communication is so important in day to day life that just not being able to talk to people really isn’t an option. It becomes even more of a shame because all of the people that I did speak with were just really cool people who were a lot of fun to talk too. No one acted as though they were above me because I was just a “lowly student” or outright dismissed me because of my obvious inexperience.
This extends even further, as each speaker also mentioned that you should be maintaining social media sites, attending events, and even creating your own website. But at the crux of it all is that you just have to put yourself out there and talk to people. You don’t have to be a social butterfly (I certainly am not) but it’s important to realize that you can help yourself out tremendously by just starting a simple conversation.