Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

How to Find an “In” at Your Dream Company—Fast

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

You’ve heard the reports. Employers today are leaning more heavily than ever on their own employees to help them find and recruit exceptional talent. Why? Because in many instances, it’s faster, cheaper and, at least in theory, more likely to result in a hire who excels in the job and aligns well with the culture of the hiring company.

This is promising and cool news for those among us who seem to know everyone and aren’t afraid to ask our people to serve as an “in” for a dream job. But what about those of us who don’t know many people? Who are moving to a new city, changing careers, or just, well, aren’t dazzling extroverts?

How do you get in that pool of people who, in all likelihood, will be considered first, instead of having to tromp your way in with the herd of others via an online application?

Strap on your gumption, folks, we’re about to get down with a little networking here. You want to be in the “in” club? Well, then, you’ve got show up for the game. You’ve got to find someone at that company you adore, and quickly (and non-offensively) endear yourself to him or her.

Here are six steps to cultivating your “in” at a company of interest.

Step 1: Race Over to the Search Box on LinkedIn

We have no better tool available to us to help us find people working for the very companies we’d like to join than LinkedIn. So, take advantage of it!

Key the company of interest’s name into the search box and, when the results come up, refine the search by checking the box that only shows you people currently working at that company.

If you have a 1st degree connection, you’re in business. Contact your person and ask for an introduction. (Here’s how.)

Step 2: Assuming You Don’t Have a 1st Degree Connection, Try For a 2nd

If you don’t have a 1st degree connection, that’s OK: Your 2nd degree connections can be equally valuable. When you discover that you’ve got a 2nd degree connection to someone working at your dream company, simply contact you shared connection (your 1st degree connection), ask him how well he knows this person, and see if he’d be willing to introduce you. (And here’s how you do that!)

Step 3: If You Don’t Have a 2nd Degree Connection, Try for a Group Connection

This is a magical way to get in touch with people you’ve not yet met. If you have no 1st or 2nd degree connections, find someone working for the company of interest, preferably someone who appears to work in the same department (would-be peers are excellent choices for this approach). Now, scroll to the bottom of her profile and check out her Groups. If you are already both members of a Group, terrific. If not, join one of the same Groups she’s in.

Why? Because when you share a Group affiliation through LinkedIn, you can contact fellow members directly.

Step 4: Approach Like an Affable, Genuine, and Sane Person

You’ve got your in. Now, how do you approach? Like a human, that’s how. Like a human who is not ambushing another human.

When you have the 2nd degree connection, try something like this:

Hi Joel. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I’d really just love to ask a couple of quick questions about your experience working with XYZ Company.

When you have only the shared Group affiliation, consider something more like this:

Hi Sherri. You and I are both members of the Geek Austin Group here on LinkedIn. [Writer’s note: That’s a real thing.] I notice that you work for Yodle. I absolutely love Yodle—may I ask you two very quick questions about your experience working there?

In short—approach in a way that doesn’t make the person feel like you’re asking for the moon or any weirdly forward favors. You don’t know this person yet. You need to build rapport.

Step 5: Keep the Banter Going for a Bit

Your goal in this stage is to continue building rapport and help the person become familiar with you. It’s the chit-chat stage of this process. It doesn’t have to last forever, but a little back and forth about the company, what you both do, your shared interests, and so on will likely go a long way when it comes to having someone vouch for you.

Step 6: Go in for the “Ask”

After you’ve achieved a bit of banter, now (and only now) is the time to ask for the “in.” One way to go about this:

Thanks so much, Sherri. It’s been great talking with you. Hey, I noticed that Yodle is looking for a client services manager. Would you happen to know the person I should talk with to get some additional information on this position?

Assuming Sherri knows, you end this conversation and go right to that contact, letting her know you’ve just spoken with Sherri. And, voilà!

You have an “in.”

And that’s what you want to go for. Every single time.

Article originally published at The Daily Muse here.

How to Create an Effective App Demo Video

Friday, February 7th, 2014

You’ve built a great app that you are sure will have a large audience. The next question is how do you get the word out – you know, market it. Many app developer are turning to demo videos to entice potential users to check it out and from there hopefully download it.

So what are some elements that lead to a successful demo video? According to this article in DevsBuildIt by Sean Casto, CEO of Alliance member PreApps, here are a few tips:

  • Choose your tools carefully
  • Don’t shy away from creativity
  • Harness the power with a strong voice
  • Keep it to the point
  • Hook the viewers

Please share links to any great demo videos you have seen.

Cogswell Student Interns as Graphic Designer for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Aston with his Merceds Benz poster design.

Aston Majors knew he wanted to complete an internship before he left college but had no idea it would lead to such an exciting opportunity. In his wildest dreams he hadn’t imagined interning for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I found a site called TeamWork Online that all of the major professional sports teams use to recruit staff,” said Majors, “and signed up. I saw on the job board that the Buc’s needed a graphic design intern and applied.”

The Buc’s called, interviewed him, reviewed his work and Aston was on his way to Tampa Bay. Though it was not a paid position, he feels that what he learned on the job will pay big dividends in the future. In fact, his supervisor at the Buc’s asked him to stay in touch and the Banana Republic offered him a graphic design job but Aston said he has to finish school first.

Aston spent the Fall term doing his internship, working full-time with the Marketing Department and tackling a variety of design projects.

“I got to go to meetings and present my work,” said Majors. “It was a great learning experience and I found out I really liked the process. My advice to all students – don’t leave school until you have done an internship. It will make a big difference in your career and you will make a lot of connections.”

Aston will graduate this summer in Digital Art & Animation with a concentration in Entertainment Design.

It Can Be Lonely at the Top if You Go It Alone

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Planning to launch your company as a solo act? Some seasoned entrepreneurs will tell you that launching a business without a partner is like the kiss of death but this article in Inc. Magazine by Elaine Pofeldt, says not necessarily.

While going it alone may not be the fatal mistake that some industry analysts think, there are certain issues you should consider.

-Loneliness: The solution – “get up from the desk once in a while. Go to industry conferences and attend local meetups with other entrepreneurs.”

-Myopia: The solution – “setting up an active advisory board of startup veterans can help you avoid that trap.”

Why or why not would you choose to run your business by yourself?

Most overused Profile Buzzwords on Linkedin

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Are any of these in your Linkedin profile?

Putting together your Linkedin profile and want some tips on putting your best foot forward? Then check out this article from the Linkedin blog about best practices and avoiding the ‘buzzwords’ that everyone else is using.

For the past four years Linkedin has conducted a survey of words members use to describe themselves and which words appear most frequently.

Which of these words are in your Linkedin profile? What do you plan to replace them with?

One Game Programmer’s Journey

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Tommy Refenes remembers his days as an aspiring video game designer and the myriad of questions he had about how to get started. Following a particularly inspirational presentation, he wrote the featured game designer a long email filled with his thoughts and questions. Sadly he never heard back from the designer.

Through trial and error he eventually learned his craft and in May 2006 Tommy founded PillowFort and created “Goo!.” The game earned an IGF Technical Excellence nomination, grand prize in the 2008 Intel Game Demo contest for Best Threaded Game and finished 3rd for Best Game on Intel Graphics. He is best known for “Super Meat Boy.”

Now he is in the position of master game maker and the recipient of those ‘how-to’ questions. He says that the two most asked questions are, ‘How do I get started?’ and ‘What programming language should I use?’ In this article in Gamasutra, he attempts to answer these and other questions.

  • Everything starts out at the very most basic level and builds up from there. Breaking your game down into small pieces forces you to analyze and evaluate your ideas on a deeper level.
  • When it comes to programming languages he suggests that you stick to what you know, or go the easiest most comfortable route possible to acquiring skills to start work on your game. So if you know a little Flash, use Flash, if you use C++, use C++, if you only use Java, then use Java.
  • The article also covers using books and tutorials as learning aids, what software he has used, how he stays motivated during the development process, steps to get your game on various platforms and how to deal with a lack of audience interest in the game you build.

Send us your questions about how to get started as a game programmer or visit our website to learn more about earning a BS in Game Design Engineering.

Effective Workflow Tactics for Remote Clients and Collaborators

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Working on a remote team to complete a project is now the norm rather than the exception. In this article in Designing Sound contributed by Michael Schiciano of Skitch Studio, he shares his insights into working collaboratively and how to avoid some of the logistical challenges that can crop up.

Points covered in the article include:

  • Establishing the Vision and Scope of the Project; Whenever I had issues coming up with ideas in the middle of a project, a very likely culprit was simply not doing enough communication early enough in the project.
  • Detours and Changes; Sometimes these are messaged down from a client.  Other times they are discovered as part of the work itself.
  • Getting the Names Right; Another area you’ll want to make sure gets addressed during the middle of a production are the simpler, smaller details of effective naming conventions.
  • Making the Delivery; The final stages of a project will bring forth another wave of heavy communication, most notably focusing on the details of the submission process.

If you have collaborated on a project remotely, what did you learn in the process?

So you Want to Start a Software Company?

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

If this is your dream, you are not alone. As witnessed in here in Silicon Valley and around the globe – the opportunities opened up by mobile apps have made this a popular choice for setting off on your own. This article in Computing Now contains important information to help you start off on the right foot.

Some of the issues covered include:

  • Your most important asset – people
  • Founders don’t see the world the same way as employees
  • It’s ‘our standard contract’ is rarely true
  • Find out what people need, make it, tell them and get them to pay you

What other issues would you like to see discussed about starting a software company?

Twas the Night Before an VFX Artist Christmas

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

One of our alumni shared this with us last year and we thought it was worth repeating.

************

Twas the night before Christmas, at the VFX house
Everyone was still there, ’cause shots “HAD” to go out.
The clips were all loaded, ready for playback again,
With hopes to be home by a quarter past ten.

The artists all wiggled, back and forth in their chairs,
Confident that “Finals,” soon would be theirs.
VFX sup at the ready, their anticipation grew,
As they all settled in, for one last review.

When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from their seats to see what was the matter.
From through the door a producer screamed like a loon,
More shots just came in, due tomorrow afternoon!

“How could this be, do they know it’s Christmas eve?”
“We’ve been on OT for 6 weeks, and now we can’t leave?”
“For my family I’ve bought, nothing at all!”
“On the way home, I was going to stop at the mall!”

Sadness and anger took over their minds,
But soon they were off, they dared not get behind.
Back to their desks, away they did flee,
Anxious and worried, what kind of shots would these be?

No new characters or props, a bit of good news,
A new environment, no time, an old one they’d re-use.
More rapid they typed, as they got back to work,
They drank coffee, and yelled, and started to curse!

“Screw Maya and Nuke and this proprietary crap!”
“Wake me when that file loads, meanwhile I’ll nap!”
“Ok, it loaded, but my assets aren’t showing!”
“Where the hell are those files, there’s no way of knowing!”

After while they all settled, back on the right track,
They had to make haste, there was no going back.
Hours and hours they slaved at their screens,
Pushing every pixel, every red blue and green.

And then, via email, a bit of joy after all,
Donuts in the office, at the end of the hall.
Pushing and shoving to claim circular delight,
Glorious sugar and frosting, some fuel for the night.

With simulations and renders, out on the farm,
A slight glitch here and there, no cause for alarm.
Keeping tabs on their renders, frame by frame,
Soon they would finish and freedom they would claim.

By four the next morning, all tasks were complete,
Freshly animated and lit, then composited neat.
Shots uploaded and queued, so they gathered once more,
Tired and haggard, the team was drained to it’s core.

The VFX Sup stood up and looked over his crew.
A wave of pride rushed over, and immediately he knew,
These people had families that soon would awake.
These words he spoke so loud, the ground it did shake!

“Get away from this place, another minute do not spend.”
“Be with your spouse and your kids, go home my dear friends.”
“If during review the client says these shots do not pass,”
“I’ll turn to him and say, why don’t you kiss my ass!”

They looked at each other, then started to cheer,
Finally it was time, they were all in the clear.
They got up and walked out, goodbye they all waved,
Racing home in their cars, Christmas might have been saved.

Back in his office the VFX sup awoke from his slumber.
Where had everyone gone, out loud he did wonder.
Up on the roof, old Santy morphed back to himself,
“Happy Christmas to All!,” shouted the jolly old elf.

Should Entrepreneurs Embrace Life-Long Learning?

Friday, December 20th, 2013

This article by Natalie Bracco in Epic Launch supports the premise that continuing to learn is beneficial for everyone but especially entrepreneurs.  She suggests advantages to you can include:

  • Indulge your love of learning – while you may want to take something directly related to your business, you might also consider something like public speaking or web design to broaden your skill set.
  • Making vital business connections – you never know who you will meet during class.
  • Becoming more competitive – continuing your education proves to potential employers and clients that you’re hungry, ambitious, and self-motivated.
  • Earning more money – according to Ms. Bracco, the more you know the more you’re worth.

What do you think about her arguments?