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My Road to My First Industry Job

A reflection on how I got my first job in the game industry.

Drew Fletcher, Blogger

November 7, 2016

5 Min Read

     Hello everyone!  My name is Drew Fletcher and I am your friendly neighborhood game designer.  Today I wanted to tell my story on how I achieved my first industry job.  I only tell this story to hopeful help someone who wants to go into the industry.  Also, it is nice to reflect on the journey to the destination.

     My journey to the industry started in 2009.  After graduating high school, I went to Hampton University (best HBCU by the way) to get my Bachelors in Computer Science.  Now I can see how some people can see this as a detour to my ultimate goal, but it would be a good building block for me.  Thanks to my education not only did I learn how to code (to this day I still don’t like coding), I learned social skills that only college can teach you.   I learned how to work in group settings, deal with people of different skill sets and personalities and most importantly break out of my shell.  Great thing about college for me was meeting more sociable geeks.  To sum up college I would like to quote MLK, “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”  The industry needs intelligent and talented people, but character will help the gaming industry change for the better.

     Now this is where the story hits a snag.  Like most people who don’t have a job straight out of college I was hit with the most annoying question ever…what’s next?  Of course, if I knew the answer I would be doing it.  After relaxing from college for a few months I started looking for jobs (I graduated in 2012 by the way).  Now I applied to jobs in the industry I thought I could do, like Associate Game Designer, Associate Game Producer, even Programmer positions.  The responses were overwhelming…meaning I heard nothing.  For the few and I mean rare times I heard something I didn’t get pass the test or first interview.  It was during this period that I found a job that would surprising teach me a lot…substitute teaching.

     Believe me, I never wanted to back to high school especially like this.  High school wasn’t bad at all I liked the ups and downs, BUT no one wants to go back...willingly.  As I started my mom couldn’t help but laugh at me (mind you she has been a teacher for at least 25 years) knowing I was about to experience a piece of her life.  Being a substitute teacher was an interesting experience, but one I wouldn’t trade.  As a substitute teacher (soon to be a LONG term substitute teacher), it was here that I learned how to lead.  I learned how to command the attention of a room from people who really could care less about what I was saying.  Now were the kids I taught bad…not all the time but they were kids (teenagers to be precise).  My students tried my patience, knowledge and often my sanity.  Thanks to my students I realized how tough I really am and as much as I would like to continue to see them grow; my passion was video games and I needed to make a leap for it.

     It would be a year and some change of teaching that I would find the instrument to my future.   On a trip to California visiting a special friend (yes my girlfriend) I would attend an event that would change my life, Indiecade.  If you don’t know, Indiecade is a festival where indie developers show off their games to the public.  That’s a simplified definition of Indiecade, but it would be here that I would discover my next step to my dream, the New York Film Academy.  As I walked by, a nice lady asked me if I heard of the school and of course I haven’t.  She would further explain the school and their program (Hi Mrs. Ellenberger) to me with excitement and a smile.  After the festival I knew what I had to do.  After weighing my options, I decided to go for it and I got in!  I would start my path for my Masters in Game Design that next year in the summer.

     After a heartfelt good bye to my tormentors…I mean my students I started school (just kidding guys, much love).  The New York Film Academy was a real eye opener to the industry and what would be demanded me.  I learned so many things that would include game design, marketing, production and yes more coding -_-.  My teachers were really wonderful people to learn from.  I was taught by people who worked on God on War to people currently working on Pokemon Go, so I was in good hands.  Near the end of my time at the New York Film Academy I started applying for jobs.  I was so ready to start working, I did everything I need to do to be prepared: I made a website to help showoff myself, I made business cards and I applied to at least 30 different jobs.  Now here is the best part folks, I still didn’t heard anything.  I must be honest I was scared, my loan money was drying up and I needed a job.  I would be fortunate to hear back from a job I applied to earlier that year and Lord be hold I was hired.

     Now the story catches up to the present.  I am currently a QA Tester for Disney Interactive.  Now was QA my first choice...no, but might it be the best choice for me…yes.  I don’t plan to stay in QA my whole career, but I do plan to learn as much as I can from this side of development.  To those of you trying to find your dream job remember this, you can do everything right and still fail.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t meant for you, it just means it wasn’t meant for you right now.  I hope you can find some worth in this read. 

     If anyone is interested in where I went to school or Indiecade I will leave links below.  This is your friendly neighborhood game designer in QA and I hope you have a wonderful day!



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