How to (not) get an internship at Massive

Finding an internship in the gaming industry can be a difficult journey, and nobody knows that better than our Junior Level Artist Samuel De Vos.

In this article, Samuel talks about how he struggled for months trying to find an internship, how important it is to follow your heart, and that persistence is key in fulfilling your dreams.

As is the case for many gaming students, my last semester in my studies was supposed to end with an internship. For me, the goal with the internship was to spend time at an AAA studio – to work on one of those big franchises that millions of people (and myself!) feel passionate about.

Four months before I was about to start my internship, I started the process of writing down all the companies I wanted to work for. I then divided my list into tiers; with tier one being my absolute dream game studios.

When I sent out the first couple of emails to those tier one studios (which included Massive!), I was so excited, but at the same time it wasn’t surprising that absolutely nothing came out of those initial emails.

As my search for an internship went on, I spent more and more time on finding other AAA studios to apply to, and I spent even more time on writing personalized emails to all of them.

Months went by, and rarely did I get further than an automated reply – and even those would turn out negative. At one point, I had written more than 120 different application emails to companies all over the world. Yet, I had to keep going.

Finally, I scored an interview with one of the top tier companies, and I was completely ecstatic! The interview went great, I met some awesome people, and I really felt that finally I had a shot to get an internship.

With only weeks left to find an internship, I could feel the pressure building and my motivation drop.

My excitement soon turned into disappointment when I was told that I didn’t get the job, and just a couple of weeks later the studio was shut down (sigh). With only weeks left to find an internship, I could feel the pressure building and my motivation drop.

But then, suddenly, I got an offer from a studio that wasn’t in my top tier, but it was an AAA project, located in an awesome city – nothing to complain about … but somehow I felt that my heart wasn’t in it 100% after getting a taste of what it could be like working for one of my tier one studios. I actually felt like I could make it if I really tried and put my heart into it.

I decided to make one last push.

Samuel De Vos worked on Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 demo shown at E3 this year.

I started digging around a bit and got in touch with someone working at Massive. To my surprise, I got an interview.

There was just one problem: I had to accept the other studio’s offer before my initial interview with Massive. I had to make a choice, and I had to make it quickly.

So there I was, with a contract ready to sign in one hand, and in the other hand I carried a small hope of getting my dream internship at Massive.

I listened to my heart and went for my dream.

Even though that choice was one of the riskiest ones I’ve made in my entire life, it has been worth every second here at Massive.

The 3 most common questions I get from GAME DEVELOPMENT students

How do you keep your motivation levels high enough to continue the search for an internship?

Confidence is always key. You need to trust your own skills enough to realize that a rejection doesn’t always mean you’re not the right fit. There are a million reasons why a company might reject your application. Timing, budget, and the actual need for an intern are always things to consider as a company. Keep on believing in yourself, and know that you can be a key player if you want it bad enough. The next e-mail could always be the last one you need.

Do I have to attend gaming conferences and other social events to get an internship?

Attending these kinds of events is never a bad thing, but they are not crucial for getting an internship. Conferences can be great to build and expand your network, and it’s also good practice to be out in a semi-professional environment and talk to actual game developers. However, in the end it all comes down to being noticed. Most people get noticed through their portfolio when they apply, but being noticed in face-to-face conversations at a conference is also a good option. The more options you have, the better your chances are!

What’s the best tip you can give to anyone looking for an internship?

Show people that you love what you do. I can’t stress this enough. The first impression you and your portfolio make is always one that sticks. Present your work in a way that shows that you care, and that you put in the time and effort to make everything understandable and easily accessible. This also goes for everything outside of your portfolio: show people that you’re passionate, interested, and not afraid to actively pursue your dream job.

Samuel was our first international intern at Massive, and since then we’ve created strong collaborations with schools around the world and processes for landing your dream internship at Massive. 

Check out our recruiter Sandra Mondahl’s guide to the 3 steps for applying for an internship at Massive here.

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