How do you get a gaming job straight out of college? Iris Lin, one of our University Relations Specialists here at EA, shares her insider advice in this week's Breaking Into The Industry. Get tips on creating a stand-out student resume and learn more about our college recruitment efforts in the interview below.
What is your name and job title?
Iris Lin, and I am a University Relations Specialist.
What does someone in that role do at EA?
The University Relations team recruits interns, co-ops, and new graduates from various colleges. I support campus activities by screening resumes, scheduling interviews, hosting events on campuses, generating offers, and, most importantly, keeping a good relationship with the faculty and students.
Are you responsible for certain schools?
Currently my main focus is on Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) (my alma mater), UC Santa Cruz, and the University of Utah. But I also support other managers in different schools as well, such as MIT, GA Tech, Texas A&M, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Santa Clara.
I went to La Salle University in Philadelphia. Why weren't you at my school? Is there some kind of process or a requirement?
Our team was fairly small last year, but we’re growing. Last year, we were only able to support a few computer science degree programs. But this year, since we have many new members, we are looking to expand our campus list.
We mainly focus on engineering schools, as that is our primary need, but we want to expand so we can cover top MBA/business, analytics, and art programs as well.
How did you end up at EA?
My previous job was as a Career Counselor for CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and I was recruited into EA by my EA University Relations contact, Elena Rente.
What did you study at Carnegie?
I received my Master of Arts Management from CMU in 2009.
Does your master’s degree somehow help in your current role?
Yes, even though my focus was non-profit arts at the time of the study, a lot of the classes I took were about project management, people management, and data organization, which helps a lot when I am dealing with large amounts of data and information at this job.
While I was going to school, I also interned on three different projects. Getting that real, hands-on experience ended up being just as important as anything I learned in class.
Is there any one, particular thing that you really like about your role?
I really enjoy working with students and finding a home for them in a company that I am proud to represent. And I get really excited when I can deliver an offer to the students that I've personally encountered since my first visit to a campus.
Because of your role, I wanted to also ask you about what it takes to get into EA. Can you talk a little about what you look for in a student?
We understand that the majority of students don’t have any real life experience so early on in their careers, so details on school projects are very important. Showing an interest in the gaming industry is important as well. Activities they are involved with outside of school are important too, such as game clubs and conferences and seminars they attend.
Is it important for students to be big fans of games?
It depends on the role, but it’s not 100% necessary that they be a hardcore gamer.
Are you yourself a gamer?
Yes, I do play games! Somewhat, I think.
I do "research" so I can better understand the market and what it is I am selling to these top candidates. The more I know about the games and this industry, the more I can connect with my candidates.
What games are you currently playing?
I can't stop playing Bejeweled Blitz and Peggle. I also just started to play Draw Something on my Android phone yesterday. And I love Plants vs. Zombies.
Was there anything in particular that drove you to EA?
The people for sure. I really like my teammates! Also, working for a company that I believe in is important as well.
What advice would you give to a college freshman whose ultimate goal is to get a job at EA?
Start with something little and build a strong foundation of your craft. It doesn't matter if you are a software engineer or an artist. Be patient and don't be discouraged by the rejections. No one is great overnight. Have an open mind and be a hard-working person, and with a great attitude you will get far.
What if a student loves games and EA, but doesn’t quite know what they want to do within the company?
The easiest way is to talk to a recruiter when we are on campus. Also, do research on the Internet. Search our job board to see if any jobs interest you, then work toward those requirements. Ask professors and join online forums to talk to people that are already in the industry or on their way and make connections.
How competitive is it to break in to EA?
Pretty competitive I would say. We visit 15 to 20 schools a semester, talks to thousands of students, and ends up hiring about 100 plus.
Is there anything that makes you immediately put down a resume?
A resume that doesn't show me what you are looking for. Do you want an engineer position or a design position? Are you a 2D artist, 3D modeler, or hoping to be considered for a producer position? To help me out, list a short objective or just make sure the information you are listing on the resume is relevant to what you are looking for.
I can see the reluctance some people may have if they don't want to limit their opportunities and just want to get in.
Yes, we have that too, but it is most important to focus on one craft, and master that craft first in this early stage of their career.
If I don't have someone like you visiting my school, as an aspiring game developer, what should I do?
Apply online. Our job site lists all types of internship and new grad roles for the summer. GDC (the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco) is also a great way to meet people and learn about what exactly people are doing in the industry to make them successful.
When I was looking to work at EA, I was always afraid that my resume was getting thrown into a huge pit. Do you guys actually look at every resume?
Yes, we do.
That’s good to know. Going back to your role though, what advice do you have for someone who wants to be a University Relations Specialist some day?
Make connections, be involved with the industry, and, again, start as something basic – like an assistant at a recruiting firm – then work your way up. The more you are in the field, the more you will know how things run, and the more comfortable you’ll be in handling a massive list of tasks.
Is there a particular degree they should study that lends itself well to a job like yours?
Not necessarily. My team includes people with a wide range of education and experiences. However, we do deal with people management and large amounts of data, which requires someone that is extremely organized and friendly.
Well, I think I’ve got all I need. Thanks for doing this, Iris!
You are very welcome. This was fun.
Is there a specific video game job you'd like to know more about? Let us know in the comments! Plus, check out last week's interview with Play4Free Producer, Eduard Roehrich, for more insight into the industry.