How Full Sail's Career Development Department Sets Grads Up for Game Industry Success
Published on Sep 15, 2021 by Bridgette Cude
Alumni relations, career advising, networking opportunities, job fairs, and more help prepare students and grads for the ever-changing world of the game industry.
Students come to Full Sail University with their hopes set on a bright future, so the school has built a support structure designed to help them achieve that future, even long after they graduate. That's why Full Sail University's Career Development resources and advisors are available to our graduates long after they leave Full Sail.
"Our services don't have an expiration," says Doree Rice, Full Sail’s Director of Career Development. "So we continue to work with our grads for as long as they need us and for as long as they desire to have a connection."
Those services include alumni relations, career advising, networking events, virtual job fairs, and alumni mixers to name a few. And with a full time staff of more than 60 people, Full Sail's Career Development department is one of the largest in the United States. That gives them the ability to create specialized teams for career resources in some of the most competitive industries in the world, including the gaming industry.
We talked with Doree and Full Sail's Career Development Team Lead for Emerging Technologies, David Rosario, to discuss ways students in Full Sail's game degree programs can benefit from these vast resources.
As the Career Development department builds stronger relationships with alumni throughout their career, it's often those same alumni who reach back out looking to hire or recruit for internships. "And those relationships are fantastic for our students and our graduates to tap into," says Doree.
For example, during our annual Hall of Fame Week, Full Sail has honored grads like UX Design Lead at Google Chris Kelley whose team's work was featured as a Google Design "Best Of." During Hall of Fame, grads like Chris come back to Full Sail to share their work experiences, give students advice, and even provide portfolio feedback.
"Open Door" Sessions
Each week, the department also hosts virtual, "open door" sessions for students and alumni. "It's kind of like our hangout for three hours where we talk about everything career-related," says David. He says, in these meetings, some alumni have become regulars, showing up almost every week, including grads working on Fortnite and grads at Epic Games, Electronic Arts, and Deloitte.
David explains that while it's a chance for students to ask the nuanced questions about class and life after Full Sail, it's also a great opportunity to get used to networking. "They're able to build a network without the stress of the word 'networking,' like going out there and having to meet people," he says. "It just happens naturally, and we're having fun, and it's really low pressure."
The Career Development department also hosts several career events throughout the year which bring in employers in the game industry and beyond to give presentations and meet with students.
In virtual career fairs open only to Full Sail students and grads, recruiters can speak directly with students, look over resumes, and schedule interviews. "It brings several AAA studios," says David. "These are companies like Rockstar... a lot of these bigger companies are attending our events, and they're hiring our grads."
Great networking opportunities are also available at localized Virtual Alumni Mixers in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, and other places around the world.
"It feels like a college reunion every week. And you never know who's going to show up to those events," says David. "I remember one year in Los Angeles, James Cameron's company Lightstorm just showed up."
Thinking Outside the Industry
Another benefit our Career Development team brings to the table is their ability to help students think outside of game studios and show them opportunities they didn't even know existed.
"That's probably one of my favorite parts of the job, is helping those graduates find opportunities outside of games," says David. "So that could mean job opportunities in the film industry, opportunities with companies who are creating self-driving software for autonomous vehicles, even helping graduates find opportunities working on the technology behind some theme park rides."
He says that students in the game degree programs can take advantage of their skills in a variety of industries, not just gaming, since they fall under the emerging technology umbrella. And with grads working for companies like Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and Microsoft, Full Sail's connections reach far and wide.
"I think it creates such a unique advantage for us at Full Sail, because we've worked with a lot of those companies for decades already... and as they evolve, they look to us to see how we can help them with that talent."
Putting in the Work
David explains that while the Career Development department is there to parter with graduates every step of the way, in the end, the students have to put in the work to get the job. "They have to be ready to persevere. And often, that's a tough road if you're not in the mindset to be ready to really work at finding a job."
He says they encourage students to use as many resources as they can and to use the great job leads that come through their department. "We're happy to connect them with employers as we're able to, but there has to be their end of the partnership."