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  • GDC Tips For Students

    - Grant Shonkwiler
  •  In 2008 I attended GDC as a student looking for a job; in 2009 I attended as an industry professional looking to network and learn. As a professional I was approached by a lot of students asking questions (partly because I was speaking at the Game Career Seminar) about networking and just being prepared for the conference. So I decided to compile a list of things that students should know when attending GDC. This list works for both those seeking jobs and those just attending to network.

    1. Business Cards and Resumes

    No matter if you are attending to just network or attending hoping to find a job these are the two must crucial things you must have ready. Business cards are crucial because they are one of your main tools for networking, so be sure to have plenty of cards to hand out and make sure they fit your personality.

    Make sure your resume is up to date and proof read, and make sure you have plenty of printed copies to hand out. But remember to not go around handing out your resume to anyone and everyone, only hand out your resume if someone asks for it or you are in the career pavilion; otherwise just give them a business card with your website on it (you have a website, right?)

    2. Wear comfortable but nice clothing

    One thing that I made a mistake with my first year is the way I dressed; I wore nice, but not comfortable, clothing. Jeans and T-shirt, as long as the jeans are not trashy and the shirt is not offensive or dirty, are fine if you are attending sessions or just walking around, but if you are walking around the career pavilion handing out resumes I would wear a polo and nicer jeans or khakis. But most importantly make sure you clothes are clean and you are not just wearing the same shirt every day.

    Shoes are extremely important because you will be on your feet for most of the day. Once again wear something comfortable, tennis shoes are fine, but not trashy (dirty ratty tennis shoes). Also look into buying insoles for your shoes to help support your back.

    3. Mind your health

    In the week leading up to GDC make sure that you get plenty of sleep to prepare yourself for the week. At the conference keep yourself healthy it can be a long week, make sure you are getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water (not soda or energy drinks) and eating at least two meals a day. You do not want to be burned out by Saturday morning. I also recommend carrying granola bars for a quick pick me up between meals.

    4. Prepare an introduction

    This is something that can help you when meeting people or when handing out your resumes in the all important career pavilion. Know what you are going to say. Here is one I used when handing out my resume my first year.

    "Hi, I'm Grant Shonkwiler. I'm an Audio Programmer with an interest in engine and gameplay programming. I will be graduating from Full Sail University in June and am currently working on a game called Smashout."

    Now this is a very formal version, and not all necessarily true (I fancied myself an Audio programmer till I met one), I would usually tailor it to fit the company and the vibe I was getting from them, if you are getting a good vibe add some humor; it will make you stand out.

    5. Network/Meet people

    Networking is one of the main reasons people attend this great event we call GDC. The good thing is that means industry professionals and students alike are trying to meet new people, so almost everyone is willing to talk.

    There are lots of opportunities to meet people at the conference and at night so take advantage of them. Some of the best times I found are: before and after sessions, waiting in lines, meals, at booths, parties, and even on flights to and from the conference. And remember always ask for a business card and follow up after the conference.


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