Computer games technology
Many potential employers look for transferable skills, such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork and the ability to learn and take on board feedback. Required software skills will vary depending on the area chosen, but can include C++, Python, Maxscript and HTML. Artists may also need experience with Max, Photoshop and Illustrator.
Recruits to the industry will likely start in a more generalist role, making varied skills essential. Embracing additional opportunities beyond your course will help you to stand out from the crowd and provide working examples to support your graduate applications.
Types of Opportunities
Below are examples of the different ways you can gain experience while you study.
Placements will give you a long-term look at an organisation, and help you to build contacts and experience.
On some degrees, work placements are part of the programme, whilst on others you can choose to complete a placement as one of your modules. Should you choose to undertake either your first point of contact is your placement office in your Faculty.
Many students from the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Arts choose to take a Self-Employed Placement. This allows you to work for yourself during your placement year and receive support from the University's Student Startup Team. You will have access to funding opportunities, networking events and workshops.
Internships are usually for a fixed period and give you more hands-on experience. Many employers will treat interns in the same way as full-time employees, so when future job roles ask for 'at least one year's experience' you can include an internship in this type of experience.
Within the games industry competition for internship positions is fierce and it will be essential to stand out as a candidate. Therefore, it's important to consider the following:
- How many games have you made yourself?
- Have you entered competitions such as ‘Search for a Star’?
- Have you learnt to do any programming and/or art?
- How have you showcased your games and other creations on online sites or forums?
- Have you covered a broad range of game genres in the content you’ve created?
It is worth considering the voluntary sector for work experience. Voluntary work with community art initiatives can be valuable. Seize any opportunity to get involved in local community projects to help you develop your work experience. Our Volunteering Bank provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies.
Being a student at the University of Portsmouth, you have the opportunity to join the Gaming Society. Throughout the year the society hosts several events to socialise and try new games. In each society there is the opportunity to apply for a committee position, helping you to develop transferable skills, such as organisation, events management and teamwork.
Examples of computer support/design roles that the Volunteering Team have previously advertised and recruited for include:
- Code Club Volunteer – supporting children aged 9-11 years old as part of Code Club, which is a nationwide network of volunteer-led after-school coding clubs. Inspiring them to get involved in digital making and developing skills in Computational Thinking. Recruitment takes place in August and September each year.
- Computer Club Volunteer with Personal Choice – working with the organisation’s 50+ Job Club to assist members with developing and enhancing their computer and digital literacy skills.
- Lead Computer Tutor Volunteer with Citizens Advice – building and developing workshop courses for members of the public covering computer skills and supporting Assistant Tutor volunteers to facilitate the sessions.
- Social Media and Website Management Volunteer with Portsmouth Food Bank – assisting with the development and maintenance of the organisation’s dedicated website and promotion of work through social media channels. Specifically using social media for marketing, creating connections and using it as a publicity tool to recruit other volunteers.
- STEM Ambassador – supporting a local school or community youth group by helping to inspire young people to make the most of their talents and pursue careers in STEM.
There will be opportunities to get involved with events, competitions and development programmes where you can showcase your work.
These may include:
- Grads In Games 'Search for a Star' competition, which is designed to highlight the most promising video games programmers and artists around with job opportunities at leading games studios.
- Tranzfuser™ which is an innovative talent development programme developed by UK Games Talent, working with a host of regional contributors and funded by the UK Government.
Where to find opportunities
Explore the various areas of your sector before you apply for work experience; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain the relevant skills.
- The placements office in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries will be your first point of contact when seeking a placement or internship opportunity.
- Games Industry Jobs advertises a limited number of internship opportunities with companies across the UK and around the world.
- Grads In Games lists some internship opportunities aimed at both current students and graduates.
- Wired Sussex lists events and media jobs and has a portfolio board where members can find digital media project opportunities and freelance work
- The British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) – Aims to showcase and reward great digital work, share knowledge and best practice and support and develop future talent
- The Creative Industry Network – Connecting individuals and companies, providing a platform to showcase and share work, follow and connect with agencies, brands and freelancers. The site also offers a job search function across creative industries, including games
Consider speculative applications
When you approach an employer directly, you send them a speculative application. Speculative applications involve sending a CV and cover letter to an employer to ask if they can offer any work experience, even if the company is not currently advertising placements or internships.
Submitting a speculative application shows your interest in a specific company and your willingness to go above and beyond to develop your skills and understanding of the industry.
Tips for finding work experience
- Try to have something that makes you stand out in your applications: join and get involved in relevant university groups or projects. This is a good way of demonstrating your motivation and interest in this area of work.
- Tailor your project work towards themes that interest you.
- Research employers/organisations carefully.
- Keep up to date with developments in the arts and illustration field.
- Speak to your tutor or other members of Faculty staff researching the areas that interest you, as students are sometimes recruited to work on research projects over the summer.
- Start early! Get involved and volunteer during your first and second year to help boost your employability opportunities once you graduate.
Explore the Computer Game Technology Career Guide
Computer Game Technology Career Guide
Your guide to building a career in computer game technology.
Getting started in computer game technology
Take the first steps to beginning your career in computer game technology.
Finding a job in computer game technology
Explore different ways you can find employment after you graduate.