What if you could land a job with your dream company and all it took were a few simple conversations? For Humboldt State University alum and former art major, Camille Sanford, that’s all it took to get a job doing what she loves.
Sanford is extremely passionate about gaming and the company she always dreamed working for is Blizzard Entertainment, a company famous for creating the video game sensation, World of Warcraft. In 2011, Sanford attended BlizzCon in Anaheim, a convention held by Blizzard Entertainment to promote their video games. At BlizzCon, Sanford “cosplayed” or costume played, in which she created a costume for the WOW character, Tyrande Whisperwind, that she wore to the convention and role played with other cosplay participants. Through cosplay Sanford was able to network with different people, and was given the opportunity to do a photoshoot.
Prior to the BlizzCon, Sanford posted a picture of herself in the Tyrande Whisperwind costume on her Facebook page. BlizzCon’s art director’s, Glenn Rane’s, girlfriend, Jo-Jo Chen, liked the photo and invited Sanford to be part of a G4 Women of WOW photoshoot the day before BlizzCon.
Rane participated in the photoshoot. “I made sure to make eye contact with him and got his Facebook information, then added him on Facebook,” Sanford said. She continued to keep in contact with both him and Chen through Facebook. Sanford’s Career Counselor at HSU, Loren Collins, prompted Sanford to request an informational interview with Blizzard Entertainment, despite her initial anxiety over networking. “I’m a nerd. I don’t want to network, I don’t want to talk to anyone,” Sanford said.
Informational interviews are interviews conducted by an individual to gather more information about a job or industry that the individual is interested in working in. “But Loren suggested that since I made this contact, it would be silly to not do anything about it,” Sanford continued. “Sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone and talk.”
Sanford prepared a list of questions on what she was most interested in knowing about the company before the interview and typed up the answers on her computer when she spoke with Rane over the phone.
Sanford knew Blizzard Entertainment offered company tours, so she asked for a tour a month after her informational interview.
With her next photoshoot from her networking with cosplay, the photographer, luckily, happened to be Blizzard Entertainment’s senior producer,Carlos Guerrero. “Remembering from Loren, I made sure to express interest in the company to the producer,” Sanford said. She then proceeded to add him on Facebook and the two began a stream of conversations regarding job opportunities at Blizzard Entertainment. “It was like an informal interview,” Sanford said. “He talked about the job opening and asked informal questions through Facebook.” After the online interview process, Guerrero decided to put in Sanford’s resume to Blizzard. Sanford mentioned that Blizzard has a lot of in-company recruitment and job referrals. After Guerrero put in the good word, Sanford landed a job in November with Blizzard as a Game Master, essentially in-game customer support for WOW.
Now five months later, Sanford loves going to work every day. “I love being in a company where the people are passionate about what I am passionate about it,” Sanford said. “Everyone is die hard passionate about Blizzard.”
Sanford is now considering a career in electronic sports (e-sports) or organized video gaming competition, where gamers compete against each other professionally. To help increase her chances in getting a job in this field of work, she again found an opportunity to network. Sanford signed up for internal mailing lists on esports and posted advice to new players in the public forum. Sanford received an email from an employee at Heroes of the Storm, a game created by Blizzard, about her advice. He suggested lunch to pick her brain about esports.
Networking is now a major way job-seekers get jobs, with 80% of jobs landed through networking according to a 2012 ABC News article. How can you utilize this technique in your job hunt? Sanford suggested to be proactive and go out of your comfort zone. “Make opportunities for yourself and make sure you capitalize those opportunities socially,” Sanford said.
Below we have compiled a list of “how-to” networking suggestions to open up your opportunities.
Build your network through former colleagues, classmates, employers and professors. Reach out to these contacts and strengthen
your relationships for future references by reconnecting and gaining further contacts, asking for advice and discussing your employment goals.
Reach out to new people and set up informational interviews. Know a company you want to work for or a professional whose job you wish you had? Reach out to these people and establish new connections. Set up an information interview, preferably in-person and follow up with a thank you letter after the interview.
Do not ask for a job, ask for advice. Seek out insight and information about careers and the field, but not about if the contact will hire you.
Follow up with your contact. Make sure to ask your contacts the best way to stay in touch (email, phone or LinkedIn, for example) and make sure to do so! Always make sure to ask for other contacts to expand your network even more.