Some people have such a wealth of wisdom, that their insightful comments deserve to be turned into a blog post. Ilya Grigorik is a fellow University of Waterloo student, 9rules member, and a Ruby developer. I am surprised I have not yet met him in person on campus. I was also pleasantly surprised to find him leaving a very insightful comment on my Video Game Programming post.
Spot on. Over the years at UWaterloo I got a chance to talk to a lot of Microsoft / Amazon / etc. recruiters. First thing they always recommend to have on your resume – open source experience. However, itâ€™s not open source for the sake of having done open source. Rather, participating in open source tells them something about you – youâ€™re passionate about that area, you enjoy contributing, you went out of your way and accommodated your busy schedule to get this done.
There are plenty of guys with great marks, and then there are some guys who might not have the best marks, but have done some amazing things in the background. Thatâ€™s what they want to see. I imagine this is no different for the gaming industry. If youâ€™re serious about it, then get the ball rolling, start plugging away at it! Microsoftâ€™s XNA project looks very interesting â€“ that maybe one route. If not, find an online project, contribute; start something of your own! Heck, it can even be a blog on the subject, it doesnâ€™t have to be code! They want to see passion, simple as that.
Luckily, for most projects, proving yourself is quite easy… you have to progress from being a passive user to an active user and then work for an invitation.
Start by testing new releases and reporting bugs, handle a few support questions, fix a few bugs and send patches, start making suggestions to make the tool better. Doing these things will let you become an active member of the community and help establish you as clueful. And it *is* important that you do things in this order.
Open Source projects are an excellent way to start preparing yourself for a programming career, video game development or otherwise. It will demonstrate your passion, teamwork, and ability to collaborate and work with other developers and their code.
One problem I personally experienced during my various job interviews is that I had no code to show for myself. I could talk about the projects I worked on, but the code I wrote remained with the company, and wasn’t mine to show. Having your name on an Open Source project is like a portfolio, giving you credentials to show behind the code you talk about.