As the summer is fast approaching I have been looking for internships. Most of the time, these applications go to companies who have come to recruit at my college [which has a game art and design program], but I would like to find more opportunities.
I have had a marginal amount of luck finding internships posted on various job websites, but I feel I’m missing opportunities. Am I missing a job site, or is it that the current economic climate is not particularly conducive to hiring interns?
Or do most companies not post internships, and instead do you recommend contacting these companies directly? How would you recommend going about contacting companies directly about an internship position?
Thank you for your time,
From a student’s perspective, the internship situation in the game industry sucks.
I hope readers of this column have come to learn (and if I’m lucky, appreciate) the fact that I can be blunt. And I’ve just got to be blunt about the whole internship debacle. If you’re a student actually looking to get an internship, it’s freaking hard! The problem is that there is no central place where internships are listed.
So don’t worry, M.O. -- you haven’t bypassed them. Very few job requisitions for interns make it to the Gamasutra or GamesIndustry.biz job boards, where a huge percent of all the full-time and part-time jobs of the industry are listed.
The reason, I’d presume, is that game development studios are not desperate for interns. They are desperate for experienced programmers, but not interns. In an industry where time is the most valuable resource, a huge priority is seeking out and hopefully retaining the most experienced programmers (and other employees) one can find.
On the other hand, interns are by their very nature inexperienced. And they’re easy to come by. You could turn over a rock and find more perfectly suitable intern candidates than you could find experienced programmers open to new job offers in the entire city of New Orleans.
Interns can be wonderful assets to companies, especially if they take on interns who are in their final semester and would be open to a full-time job offer once their studies are completed.
The catch is the company has to have the time, personnel, money, and wherewithal to find them, cull them, and train one or two keepers -- then pray that they’ll stay on board because if they don’t, it could be seen as a minor financial loss to the company.
Given all that, my theory -- and I honestly don’t know if this is true, but it’s an educated guess -- is that most game studios that do sponsor internships get enough applications without advertising the position.
If they were to advertise the position, they would get too many applicants, and then would have to spend more time (read: money) sifting through them all. Why advertise a job if you get enough candidates without doing it?
I’ve had several conversations with The Powers That Be that help run this site to see if GameCareerGuide could become the central location for internship listing in the game industry, but there just hasn’t been enough interest for it to work, thus far. As I said, game companies are not desperate to find interns.
Internships in the Video Game Industry
There are two good ways to find internships, and it sounds like you’ve already figured out what they are, M.O. 1) through a school and 2) through individual company web sites.
If your school has a well-connected career center, it will likely be able to help you find an internship. Some of the more established and reputable game schools (Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University comes to mind) have amazingly tight connections in the industry and practically have internships set aside for their students.
For any readers who are applying game schools or universities with game divisions, ask what kind of internship assistance is available.
In some cases, it’s little to nil while other times it’s a fantastic and established program of preferential treatment. There’s any easy way to tell, too. (Pay close attention to the words used in the answers.) If you ask, “What kind of internship assistance does this school provide?” you might hear something like this:
A) “Our students have had internships at Studios A, B, and C.”
B)“We have a relationship with Studios X and Y in the area, and we have six students working there now.”
If you hear something similar to B), you know the people at the school, from the career counselors to the instructors to the department heads, are going to go to bat for you and do their best to hook you up. If the answer sounds more like A), that’s a sign that the onus will be much more on you.
Some schools have an internship requirement. Let me just say this plainly: When a school requires its students to have an internship sometime in the course of their education but does not reasonably help the student find or get an internship, it makes me think less of the school’s program. That’s just crappy, and it’s not fair to the students. It pressures them into taking whatever they can get rather than allowing them to explore until they find the right internship that really lets them try out a career they’re genuinely interested in having.
After reading this article I'm still no more informed about the process of getting an internship outside of sending emails out to companies and the fact that they probably don't advertise that they have openings for interns or don't have openings at all makes it increasingly hard to get experiences. It doesn't help that the article touches on schools and education facilities having ties to companies to hand pick interns from making it seem like an unfair advantage, so the best plan for me to get an internship would most likely be a mix of networking and presenting my work and heavily promoting it at the Game Republic Showcase and the End of Year Show.
Again it seems like the path to employment in the game industry is a very difficult one alone.