Like the DemoNight I attended last week, this was an event where my expectations had to be put in check in a great way, but for entirely different reasons. I hadn’t expected the alumni pizza night to be anything more than hanging out with past students while also getting free pizza. What I had not taken into account was the number of alumni that would show up, that they were nearly all full-time developers at professional Montreal game studios such as Ubisoft and Rogue Factor, and that they were mainly there to talk to us!
The Q&A they hosted was full of solid and insightful advice on how to start looking for jobs upon graduating, their workplace environments, and necessary communication skills. Some of the best tips I heard included the importance of being able to read conversations you are having with recruiters at social events, and how important it is to try and be likable and relate to their interests rather than your own personal interest in getting a job from them. They stressed the importance of being able to put yourself out there and practice conversational skills as much as you can, and if you can’t do it on your own, go with a friend who might help keep the conversation flowing and accentuate the qualities you have that you might not even recognize. None of the advice felt like it was condescending or a show they put on for us: it felt really genuine and practical and I really appreciated it.
We were then able to put what we learned into practice by mingling with the alumni students and being able to talk to them on a more casual, conversational level. It reminded me a lot of my DemoNight experience, but this time I was able to come into the conversations with the developers so it was a little more exciting and not as awkward. I was able to have great chats with them about their work, and what the working environment at a studio like Rogue Factor was like, and it sounded really incredible! We talked a lot about the social environment being really laid-back with a ton of fun work-related weekly rituals and descriptions of the vibe around the studio that just really felt reassuring to hear. A lot of the time when I read about working environments and conditions in bigger studios it’s usually about the horror stories in journalist pieces on game media sites, and it always makes me wonder how hectic the workplace could be for game developers. But that kind of hostile environment doesn’t really seem to be the case here, which takes a load off my mind when it comes to thinking about my future in the industry.
After the more formal part of the vent, the remaining students and alumni decided to head out to a nearby pub and talk more about the games we like and about the fun times they had as students, amongst many things. The alumni at the event talked about how important it was to go out and have fun over pints and talk, putting yourself out there as a major part of the developer culture in Montreal, and I felt like I had the chance to step into that world for a night.
I had a really great time, and it was another example of signing up for something on a whim that I didn’t think would be all that big of a deal but ended up being a wonderful learning experience!