The US is home to the most esteemed video game design programs and studios in the world. As the game design industry has continued to grow, the quest for a place on a team with a major game development studio has become more competitive. International students who want to keep their resume competitive ought to take a game design internship. This article identifies the benefits of a game design internship, some resources for acquiring game design internships, and lists some internships offered by major development studios.
International students studying video game design in the United States, who want to make the most of their education, as well as keep their resumes competitive within the gaming industry, need to pursue game design internships in addition to their normal coursework. Many international students are hoping to secure valuable game design internships to further enrich their study abroad experience, make the most of the investment in their education and establish themselves with potential employers. Game design internships are an important part of what employers look for in graduates. Employers almost always prefer graduates who have held video game design internships to those who have not.
Employer preference for international students who have held game design internships comes from a number of reasons. A few reasons include the following: game design internships help current students and new graduates become actively involved in the industry, game design internships offer hands-on experience related to careers in game design and game design internships establish both a reputation and network amongst potential employers.
International students attempting to secure a game design internship during the school year or during the summer will have more steps to take than a US citizen applying for the same position. Given the additional steps and documentation required in order for an international student to secure a game design internship or game design summer internship, international students should begin their search and application process as early as possible and remain diligent throughout.
The first step for an international student trying to secure an internship is to acquire proper governmental authorization. It is important to check with your international student advisor to make sure that you have the ability to work – especially if you will be receiving compensation during your game design internship.
Next, an international student should apply for as many different game design internships that fit their desired criteria as possible. Many students in the United States apply for an upwards of 12 internships, and an international student should apply for much more than that if they really want to secure an internship. Many video game design programs in the US will have internship opportunities through their degree program or a company with whom the institution has a relationship. Degree departments often have information on their websites regarding their respective internship opportunities and requirements. As such, browsing the websites of game design programs at institutions in the United States is a great way to find a game design internship opportunity as an international student.
However, for students interested in game design summer internship opportunities beyond those offered by their host institution, there is another route available. Despite the fact that all international student internships must conform to the federal guidelines of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT), international students can still submit their resumes and cover letters directly to businesses and companies that they would be interested in holding an internship through. These companies will often consider the resumes of international students and qualified candidates. Students can typically work something out with their hosting institution for credit even though the game design internship was not secured through the department.
The following is a list of resources and companies that international students can attempt to secure game design internships through:
- Volition Inc: Based out of Champaign, Illinois, Volition is a well-known company with several popular titles under their belt. They have resources for jobs and game design internships available on their web site.
- EA Games: A video game internship with EA would be a dream come true for many students. EA offers internships at each of its studios in Redwood Shores, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Orlando, FL, Fairfax, VA, and Salt Lake City, UT. Their online internship database and guide can be found on their website.
- Riot Games: Riot, a smaller studio responsible for the extremely popular online game League of Legends, offer internships out of their St. Louis, MO and Santa Monica, CA offices. Instructions for how to apply to Riot for a game design internship or game design summer internship are available on their website.
Another key resource for finding game design internships is to seek out the local International Game Developers Association (IGDA) chapter. The IGDA is an excellent resource for networking and finding game design internships and entry-level employment opportunities. These basic reminders and listed game design summer internship resources will help international students find a much-needed internship.