How to Conquer the Gies Business Career Fair as an English/CW Major (Updated for Fall 2018)

The Gies Business Career Fair is open to all majors, and many employers come hoping to meet majors from all over the university.

Bring your I-Card — it’s the only requirement for entry.

If you’re inclined to go, go! If you’re not whether “business” is for you, go. Talking to employers is a great way to find out more about what “business” careers are out there and how you might fit in. If you’re planning to to to the LAS & ACES Career Fair in October, going to the Gies fair is a great way to get familiar with the career fair format, so you go to the next one with even more confidence.

Prepare. Having a plan is the difference between a traumatizing career fair experience and a useful one. A little bit of preparation will show you that you are not only employable, but have choices about your employment. 

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The Business Career Fair for English/CW Majors: Management Training Programs

There are jobs for English/CW majors at campus career fairs. It helps to know what you’re looking for, though.

ONE option (there are others — we’ll get to those in future posts) that English/CW majors should know about: management development programs. Sometimes called “leadership development” or “rotational programs,” these opportunities involve a one- to two-year commitment to a mid-size to large company. During that time, the new employee rotates through several different departments, learning how different parts of the company operate, trying out different skill sets, and and getting the big picture that will eventually help him or her flourish in a particular role. Here’s a post about one English alumna who is in the midst of such a program at Cintas.

If all goes well, at the end of the program, the employee is hired into a permanent managerial role in whichever part of the company is the best fit.

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Things to Do at Quad Day (Updated for 2018)

University of Illinois Quad Day.

Quad Day is here! And yes, you should go.

What should you do there?

  1. Find the college version of something you enjoyed in high school, and sign up.
  2. Find something that will allow you to use your skill with or love of words, and sign up.
  3. Find something that is entirely outside your experience, and sign up.
  4. Find something that seems interesting to you for no particular reason, and sign up.
  5. Take joy in the sheer variety on display: there truly is something for everyone on a huge campus like this.
  6. Register to vote! Lots of political groups will be out registering voters. It’s not a presidential election year BUT

— If you’ll be 18 in time for the 2018 election on Nov. 7, you can register to vote. Think of it like flossing your teeth, or checking the oil in your car, or writing thank-you emails. Even if you’re not excited about doing it, it’s an important part of civic maintenance, and it’s good to start the habit early.

— If you’ve live in Champaign-Urbana because you go to college here, you are eligible to register to vote here. Some people chose to register in their home district. You can only vote once in any given election, but if you have two different addresses, you can decide which of them you want to vote from. Read more about voter registration in Champaign County here.

This Congressional district (IL-13) currently has a Republican representative, and it is considered a “race to watch” in the November midterms. Whatever your political leaning, your vote can make a difference in this election.

— Your vote counts whether you participate or not. Both parties work from their assumptions about what college-students-in-general (and 18 – 25 year olds) will do. The only way to make your vote say what you mean is to cast it.

 

So You Want to [insert career here] Design Video Games…

Thinking about a career writing for video games? It’s a hard field to break into, but it is a thing people do. We have a post about it here, with some resources to explore.

In considering any career path, a useful step (whether you’re just starting out in college or about to graduate) is to look at some ads for entry-level jobs in that field. Use those close reading and critical thinking skills to learn about the field and its threshold for entry.

Here’s an ad currently running on the DS Volition website:

A few things to note:

  • “Temporary.” That may mean that they have a project underway that requires some extra help, or it might mean that they don’t want to commit to a full-time hire at this level until they’ve had a chance to see someone do the job for a while. Entry-level jobs in creative fields are often provisional this way. Either way, it’s experience that will help you prove yourself to future employers — even if that employer is not DS Volition. Also, rapid turnover is characteristic of video game jobs. If your goal is a stable, permanent job with one company, gaming is not a good career path.
  • They don’t stipulate previous years of experience (that is, after all, what makes an entry-level job entry-level), but they do want “Sample Work.”  Many employers in creative fields are less interested in what you’ve studied or what qualifications you have than in examples of how you use your creative skills. They are often particularly interested in things that you’ve created in collaboration with other people.
  • They don’t stipulate a major — it’s on you to demonstrate how your college coursework is “a game relevant discipline.” Note that the ability to be “Proactive in seeking feedback and resolving issues” is baked into success in a Creative Writing workshop-style class. Video game developers who interview a lot of engineers may not know this — but you can tell them.
  • There’s some industry jargon here: “level-design,” “scripting,” “iterate gameplay,” “AAA project.” If you are not conversant with these (and other)  terms, then you have a goal for future networking. Find people in the field that you can talk to until you get to a point where you can drop these terms into conversation without feeling self-conscious.
  • The “Qualifications” section mentions a lot of soft skills. Phrases like “self-motivated with a strong work ethic” and “Ability to think creatively and analytically” often sound like white noise, but employers mean something by them and take them seriously. Consider the things that you can point to a resume, or anecdotes from your life that you could bring up in an interview, that would demonstrate that you have these qualities.

Bottom line: if you’re passionate enough about the inner workings of video games to start creating a portfolio and seeking out industry professionals, then you will be able to make a case for yourself as a candidate for a job like this. If thought of doing those things just makes you feel…tired, then gaming might not be the right industry for you. That’s okay. Look at some entry-level job ads in other fields. Read them with the level of care and attention demonstrated here. Look at lots of ads, in a wide range of fields. Talk to people about what they do and why they like it. There are many paths open to you.