As an ambitious junior at the University of Southern Maine, joining the global game development industry is next to impossible because of geographical location. You may be in this same predicament. You may wonder "Why don't I form my own team to gain the skills and experience to get a job in California?" The work is hard, especially if you're not at a school or university with many disciplines, but if you know how to access the university system and persevere through bureaucracy, your school could be the most valuable resource to getting your dream job. Don't underestimate the power of the random number generator gods that place exceptional talent in the wildest locations.
At first you wonder, if I want only talented students, shouldn't I make the application process super hard? Nope. You need it to be as simple and revealing as possible. Which means you can't ask people to go to a URL on a physical card or hand them a flier. One of the most effective marketing strategies in today's economy is the email newsletter. Almost every university has it's own emails with their own email newsletters, and this resource is precious gold to every recruiter. Access this list at any means possible. Here's how I did it:
- Major Secretaries: The most important person to know. The secretary for each major not only gives you specific access to one discipline, but also has the most likely to be read emails. People read emails concerning if they graduate or not, not university-wide emails. Here you need to be very specific about what you can offer students, and who exactly you're looking for.
- Professors: The ability to further narrow down the skills you want in applicants through one course? WHAT POWER. When I needed composers, all it took was a mosy over to the Composer's Ensemble class and bam, 2 composer applicants. This can be ineffective if positioned incorrectly(Do this for the money, not because you love it), but with the proper follow-up on students that perked their head up, you can recruit students that genuinely care about your mission.
- Advisors: Arguably the least effective means to recruit students. While they will forward your position to students if they mention an interest in game development, it is quite rare they will follow through without advocates that replicate your passion and drive. The one major benefit is that advisors will generate applicants slowly over time, and may find the person perfect for your team later down the road.
While there are many ways to recruit students, I find these methods, particularly within universities, are the most effective means. Keep in mind that your messaging is valuable above all else, and that you position your team as a platform for personal development and the opportunity to collaborate with a team. Stay confident in what you believe in, and you will begin to attract the people necessary to accomplish your mission of creating your own game development team. Stay tuned for part 2 on producing for your student team(Not as easy as you think)!
For references on recruitment cards, position descriptions, or job applications, check out our company's page: https://usm.maine.edu/ci2/timeshock-games
Thank you for reading!