Internships are a fantastic way to prepare for a career in games, but they can also offer huge benefits to you as a studio.
Hiring an intern is not just about having an extra pair of hands to ease the workload; it can also help foster a positive brand image and benefit the games industry as a whole.
Some employers can be reluctant to take on interns for a variety of reasons. Often, they don’t feel they have the time, money or resources to deliver effective training. Others haven’t yet felt the need for an intern.
However, internships give you the chance to test-drive the talent, and evaluate a student’s potential for future employment. If you see potential in the intern, this helps the hiring process further down the line when you’re looking to add a graduate to your team.
Internships will, of course, vary from company to company in length, pay and style. Some may last several months over the summer period, or some may just offer a week. Larger companies may have a more fixed internship structure, offering the same internships every year, while smaller studios may offer one-off internships as and when they need them.
We asked some of our game studio partners about the internships they offer and what the benefits are for both the intern and the studio.
Chris Davison, Exient
We offer three-month, summer internships. They are normally junior, jack-of-all-trades positions, where they could be doing anything from bug fixing to game jams.
Why? In short, they are just a big win. I like them because there are always more programming tasks than there are people so some more help is great (ditto for art, production and so on). Summer is usually a busy time for us, so the timing is good and the business side of it makes sense.
But that isn’t really the main benefit. We get to work with people who nine months later could be working for us full-time. We can see if we like them and if they like us. Indeed, we are more likely to want to hire the intern than spend a lot of time and money interviewing and training someone new. They gain a huge amount of experience in a short time and they learn whether the games industry is where they want to be.
On a more personal level it’s great to have some fresh faces in the office. It helps to balance out the jaded game developers among us.
We are more likely to want to hire the intern than spend a lot of time and money interviewing and training someone new.
Thad Frogley, Boss Alien
An internship at Boss Alien is a unique opportunity to work alongside industry professionals on real production code/art. Our interns are provided with the support and training they need to expand their knowledge and experience of real world game development in a friendly and relaxed environment.
The interns are given real work and responsibility and a true taste of working in the industry. While you are here, you are one of the team, not just ‘the intern’.
Susan Russell, Rare
We currently offer 12-month internships at Rare, in areas such as software engineering, game design, art, audio, production and business and marketing. We are free to decide each year what areas of the business has capacity to support the intern scheme and choose accordingly. Rare is an incredible place to work and we all feel privileged to be here. As such we are passionate about our interns really growing during their time here. When they don’t want to leave at the end of it (and most don’t), we know we did a good job.
For us it’s not just about the interns gaining some work experience and life skills – although they will do that too. It’s about them receiving a level of training, inspiration and support that goes beyond most intern schemes. They will without a doubt accelerate their learning, but they will also be treated like one of the team where their ideas are welcomed and respected.
We are passionate about our interns really growing during their time here. When they don’t want to leave at the end of it (and most don’t), we know we did a good job.
Rebecca Askham, Sumo Digital
We operate a very successful placement scheme for university students in Programming and Game Art. We maintain strong links with universities such as Sheffield Hallam and Derby University from where we regularly recruit talented placement students. We have also recently had success with Aardvark Swift’s Rising Star competition, which we sponsor. It has also given us some fantastic placement students.
Our students work alongside experienced developers on live game projects, and work to their full potential, while learning a huge amount during their time with us. Many placement students return to us as full-time employees after graduation.
There is no doubt that our placement scheme creates a strong graduate talent pipeline for us.
It’s clear that it’s not just the interns themselves who can benefit from internships, but also the employer or studio. An intern can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the industry, while providing an extra pair of hands during busy periods.
Internships can also give your existing staff the chance to act as a mentor and develop their own skills. The intern gains a genuine games industry experience, and at the same time boosts their chances of getting hired – it’s a win-win situation.