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What are some door opening jobs I can apply for within the game industry for project manager?

I am still in college obtaining my Associates in Game Business and Esports. What steps should I take to reach that end goal of Project Manager?

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Todd’s Answer

In the gaming industry, the roles of product and project managers are quite distinct. Product managers lean more towards marketing roles and are not as prevalent. Their primary responsibilities revolve around making advertising and marketing decisions to boost sales. They are often involved in shaping how aspects of the game, other than the game itself, are presented.

On the other hand, project managers are quite common in the gaming industry. They can be found in product development teams and other areas too. Their work involves task management, scheduling, budgeting, and meeting milestones to ensure the game is completed.

So, the first decision you need to make is whether you want to market games or create them.

As a project manager myself, I can provide insights into this role and what I would look for when hiring someone for this position.

To become a project manager in the gaming industry, you need to understand software project management and find a way into a gaming company. Let's break this down:

A. Understanding Project Management:
For an entry-level applicant, I would expect:
1. A passion for playing games and knowledge about current games, including those from our studio.
2. Familiarity with traditional waterfall project management methods and common tools like Microsoft Project and Excel.
3. Experience with Agile project management techniques, particularly SCRUM, which is quite popular nowadays.
I don't care about PMI certification or being a "certified SCRUM master" as long as you understand the basics of project management and the relationship between time, scope, and capacity. You should be detail-oriented, good with numbers, an effective communicator, and eager to do quality work.

For a more experienced applicant, I would expect all of the above, plus a track record of successfully delivering software projects nearly on time and on budget. You should be capable of strategic planning, creating master plans for entire projects or teams, and have a knack for identifying and mitigating problems early.

This is a role where lack of gaming industry experience is less of a hindrance than for a designer or artist.

B. Breaking into a Gaming Company:
1. Keep an eye on job postings on The Art & Business of Making Games (Gamasutra) and Look for openings and pay attention to the skills and experience they require. This can help you identify what you need to add to your resume.
2. Being located in a city with numerous game studios - like Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, New York, London, etc. - can be beneficial. Not needing a relocation package can be a plus if you're new to gaming.
3. Network with people in the gaming industry. Be a professional, not a fan. Speak like a developer, not a player. Attend industry events and look for internships or contract work. Persistence is key to getting your foot in the door.
The role of Product Owner (in SCRUM) has become more common. It's similar to a product manager but focuses on guiding design to meet consumer needs. The key difference is that Product Owners deal with intent, not implementation. They strive to make things easier, prettier, deeper, clearer, or stickier without discussing tasks, feature details, or timelines. To land this job, you need to outperform many others and build a successful track record of product development.
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Filipa’s Answer

Hi Dimitri,

To reach your ultimate objective of becoming a Project Manager, I recommend you consider applying for internships or graduate programs specifically designed for aspiring PMs. Competition can be fierce as there are often more applicants than available positions, but don't let that deter you. Apply broadly across various companies and industries - you might be surprised by the opportunities that arise. Always keep searching for that entry-level position.

In order to do this, you'll need a well-prepared CV that showcases your experience, skills, and initiative. While it doesn't need to be the most impressive CV, it's crucial to demonstrate enthusiasm for the role and a willingness to learn.

Here are some key elements to include in your CV:
- Academic achievements
- Any work experience, even if it's in a café
- Voluntary work
- Participation in sports
- Involvement in summer camps

In addition, obtaining certain certifications can significantly boost your chances of achieving your goal. For example, the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) from the Project Management Institute (PMI) is highly valued by most companies.

In the current business environment, agile project management is trending, so having an agile certification can also be beneficial. There are numerous Agile certifications available that can enhance your credentials.

Lastly, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the field. You can use online resources to learn about the different types of projects, the key deliverables that a PM manages during a project, and so on.

Best of luck on your journey!

Filipa recommends the following next steps:

Apply to internship or graduate program
Get Project Manager knowledge
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hey there, Dimitri!

Here's a friendly guide on how to step into the role of a Project Manager in the Game Industry, especially designed for an Associate’s Degree Holder like you.

You've already got a strong base with your associate degree in Game Business and Esports. To level up to a project manager, you'll need to gather some experience, sharpen your skills, and connect with the right people. Here's a game plan for you:

1. Rack up some experience:
- Try to bag internships or part-time roles in the gaming industry to get hands-on experience.
- Work on your own projects or contribute to open-source game development projects to build an impressive portfolio.
- Join game jams or hackathons to show off your skills and meet industry professionals.

2. Boost your skill set:
- Get to grips with game development engines like Unity or Unreal Engine.
- Get comfortable with project management tools like Trello, Asana, or Jira.
- Work on your communication, leadership, and team management skills.
- Learn all about the game development process, including design, art, and programming.

3. Connect with the community:
- Attend events, conferences, and meetups in the game industry to meet professionals.
- Join online communities like the Game Developers Association or Game Industry Professionals to connect with other game developers.
- Engage in online forums and discussion groups to show off your knowledge and expertise.

4. Consider a bachelor’s degree:
- If you haven't already, think about earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field like computer science, business administration, or engineering. This could give you an edge in the job market and open up more career paths.

5. Apply for project manager roles:
- Keep an eye on job openings on game development studios’ websites, gaming job boards, or professional networks.
- Make sure your resume and cover letter highlight your experience, skills, and education.
- Get ready for interviews by researching the company, practicing common interview questions, and showing your passion for the game industry.

6. Keep going and stay positive:
- It might take a while to land your first project manager role, so keep at it and don't lose heart.
- Stay upbeat and keep learning new skills to boost your chances of success.

Here are some great reference books to help you along the way:

- “The Game Production Handbook” by Brandon Sheffield
- “Game Development with Python” by John S. Stokes
- “The Art of Game Design” by Jesse Schell

These books offer a detailed look at the game industry, game development processes, and project management skills, and will help you gear up for the challenges of a project manager role in the game industry.

Wishing you all the best in your career journey! May your efforts be richly rewarded.

Best regards,
Thank you comment icon Good evening James, Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to help me I appreciate it so much. I thank you for such encouraging words giving me hope and getting me moving to get the grind on and learn everything I can. I will say with all of the information you have provided I feel confident that I can get to my goal of becoming a project manager. So again Thank you Dimitri Dimitri
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Kris’s Answer

Hi Dimitry,

While I'm not a project manager, I'm a software engineer in the video games industry that has worked with a lot of project managers.

Getting a business degree in the Game/Esports business is definitely a major plus already, so thumbs up there!
The best project managers I've personally worked with had a foundational knowledge of the field of the project or were fast learners, while at the same time being comfortable with only having a high level of understanding.

Therefore, something to think about is to what kind of projects you would like to manage. The games industry is a big industry and projects can range from Marketing, Legal, Engineering, Art, etc.. Having a high level understanding of the types of projects you'd want to manage will allow you to quickly get your bearings in a project and understand what people are talking about.

As an example, large video game development is split up in a lot of specialized teams, each dealing with multiple projects.
So, as a project manager for an software engineering team, you want to be familiar with the engineering process and jargon.

On top of this, a good project manager knows how to extract data from project management systems. Some data science and scripting skills can make you way more effective in your job.

To give you a leg up, you could volunteer to help manage open source game projects. This will give you visibility in the industry, create connections (a lot of the contributors are ex/current game developers) and get experience.

Kind regards,
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John’s Answer

Hi Drimitri - Getting a business degree in the Game/Esports business is definitely a major plus already, so thumbs up there! This market only continues to grow. My suggestion would be to start with a gaming specific recuriting agency. This will give you an idea of what roles are out there and they will be able to connect you with hiring manager within the gaming industry.

Check out -

Good luck!

John P. Osorio
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Mary Ann’s Answer

Hi Dimitri,
A great way for college students to get experience at a company is through an internship. Many companies have summer internships where college students get the opportunity to work for a company and learn what it's like to be part of that company while doing real work. Check the websites for the gaming companies that are of interest to you to see if summer internships are available. This can usually be found on the "Careers" page of a company's website. There's usually a button for interns, college students, or early in career. To find the "Careers" button, go to the company's website, scroll all the way to the bottom and you should see choices like "About Us", "Careers", and "Contact Us". Click on careers to see what you can find.

If an internship is offered, follow the instructions to apply for the internship. If an internship is not listed, and you really would like to get experience at a specific company, write to their HR or People department and explain what your career goals are, what your course of study is at school, and ask if an internship or entry level job is available.

And, if your college has a "career day" where companies come to your campus to recruit students for jobs, check to see if there are companies that will attend that might be of interest to you. Show up with your resume/CV and be ready to talk about yourself, what you can offer the company, what you hope to learn, and why that particular company is of interest to you. Here's a tip. When I used to go to Campus recruiting events, I looked for a few things that would move people to the next round of interviews:
1. Any previous experience that had transferable skills. (Someone who is the President of a college club told me that person had leadership skills and could work with groups of people; Someone who was a summer camp counselor could work with groups of people, problem solve as things at camp never go as planned, and conflict resolution as someone at camp is always getting into a disagreement with someone else)
2. Enthusiasm to learn. Usually, at this point in someone's career, they don't have a lot of job experience. But, what they do have is enthusiasm to learn and contribute to a team. So, enthusiasm about the job as a learning experience was a big thing.
3. (This is the really big one) Show me that you did some research about my Company and tell me why you want to intern at this Company. I would ask people, "Why do you want to intern at my tech company?" and most would say something like "I want to work in tech". Then I would follow up with "what is it about tech that interests you?" and they often wouldn't have an answer. But for the people who answered the first question with something like, "I was doing some research and I saw that your company is taking the lead on a widget to be used in space travel and that's really interesting to me" or "I like how your company identifies a problem and works to fix that for people, like the ABC project". What this tells me is that someone is interested in working for my company vs just looking for any job. The people who had shown they researched my company and put some thought into what it would be like to work there got added to the stack of resumes for further interviewing.

As you step out into your career, try to keep in mind that any job that gets you in the door is likely worth taking. Once you are part of a company, it's easier to move into the position you really want. So, if the job that is available is "analyst", consider whether or not you can do that job. If you can, apply for that job. If you get that job, while you are doing the analyst job, you will be meeting people and you can learn more about how the company operates. Once you've been in the job for about a year, you can apply for a different job in the company.

Hope this helps. Good luck!