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Ask the Experts: Informational Interviews

Sister site GameCareerGuide has a special, extended Ask the Experts advice column this week about informational interviews in the game industry, how to get them a
GameCareerGuide.com, Gamasutra’s sister site for educational topics and career advice in game development, has just posted the latest in its biweekly advice column “Ask the Experts,” this time on informational interviews. Jill Duffy, columnist and site editor, explains what an informational interview is, how to get one with game developers, and what kinds of questions are appropriate to ask. The special extended edition of the column is available for free on GameCareerGuide, and an excerpt is provided below. (For more 101 advice and information about careers in game developer, see the Getting Started section on GameCareerGuide.) Dear Experts, Regarding the call in “Ask the Experts: Programmer Applicant's Checklist” (July 23, 2007) for potential applicants to "request for an information interview," how would you suggest doing this? Writing the HR department with a generic request, finding a specific employee? Thanks. S. A. Dear S. A., Yours is a very good question. About a year ago at a conference, I was sitting near a fairly prominent game designer, waiting for a lecture to begin. A young man noticed him, approached him, and told him that he had aspirations to one day become a game designer himself. He asked would it be okay for him to call this game designer up and “pick his brain.” The designer said, “Well, what do you want to ask me?” The young man said, “I just would like to, you know, chat about designing video games for maybe 30 minutes or so.” I think he offered to buy him lunch. The game designer politely but firmly said, “I’m sorry. No. If I spent the day chatting with every student who wanted to just talk to me, I would never get any work done.” That scenario is an example of someone looking for an informational interview, though sadly, it took a few wrong turns. He didn't quite understand what an informational interview is, and that fact was made prevalent in the way he went about asking for one. Still, I give the young man credit for trying. Remember, in anything that requires persistence (including getting a job in the game industry), you might have to hear "no" a hundred times before you hear "yes." But, each time you hear "no," be sure to pause and think about whether you need to tweak your approach, or perhaps your intended goal. ... [For the complete article, please see “Ask the Experts: Informational Interviews” on GameCareerGuide.com. You can also comment on the article and give a second opinion on the site's forum.]

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