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Anna Hegyaljai, CAMD student.

CAMD student Anna Hegyaljai, who is a Games major, is on track to earn her BFA in next spring. Anna chose to pursue an academic and professional career in Game Design because of her interests in environment art, world design, and game-level building. She recently wrapped up her co-op at Manticore Games in San Mateo, California, where she was able to expand her knowledge of the gaming world. We caught up with Anna to learn how this role is preparing her for future success. Read more below!

How did you prepare for your co-op at Manticore Games?

I knew that I’d like to do an internship relating to environment art or level design, so I made sure to take relevant classes the semester the company was still pre-Alpha and in stealth mode. I was given limited information. I didn’t really know what exactly I would be doing until my first day at the office. Accepting the internship was a bit of a leap of faith, but it was completely worth it, and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

 What did a typical day at Manticore Games look like for you?

The internship program started off as a gently structured mix of playing and experimenting with Core, Manticore Game’s new platform, QA and usability testing, workshops given by the industry experts working here, and game jams. Once my internship was extended through the fall semester, I joined the environment art team. Now, I produce environment props, participate in team meetings, and collaborate with other artists on game maps. I sit between our Art Producer and the Lead Character Artist and turning around, I can talk to a number of Senior and Lead artists, our Art Director, and even our CEO. At Manticore, I can walk over to anyone else’s desk for help with a problem, a quick work discussion, or simply to take a look at what everyone is working on.

 What is the most important thing you’ve learned at Manticore Games?

The industry-relevant software skills I’ve picked up here are extremely valuable. However, the most important thing has to be that there is a real community within the Games industry. Many professionals with decades of experience are willing to support and raise up a new generation of artists, designers, and developers, and to better the industry for both professionals and gaming enthusiasts.

This co-op has definitely reaffirmed my determination to work in games. I’ve also learned so many new skills I didn’t have before the internship. While you can learn pretty much any technical skill on your own with online resources, there is a whole store of knowledge and unique experiences that you can only access when you talk to, work with, and learn from others who share your passion.

Was there a teacher or course that influenced your co-op?

Professor Jason Donati is a great teacher when it comes to breaking down the basics of Maya. Before taking his Animation I class, I was a bit intimidated and didn’t really know where to start on my own. What I learned in his class made it possible for me to extend my internship and join the art team—getting real, legitimate industry experience in my chosen field.

Another class that’s stayed with me is The Business of Games. My instructor at the time was Seven Siegel. They were honest and open about some of the harsher realities of the games industry and equipped us with the knowledge to make it in this competitive field. I also learned from them that, even in this high-stakes industry, it’s possible to be successful while standing up for your ideas and through that, make the games industry a better place.

What made this co-op valuable to you?

Every single day I’m excited to come into work, which is a feeling I didn’t expect to ever experience. Everyone talks about needing to make it through some terrible jobs, but there are also truly awesome jobs out there. This one is definitely among the best of them. Getting to learn from people the likes of which I never dreamed I’d meet as an intern. Working closely with experienced professionals is invaluable to anyone trying to break into the games industry. The people at Manticore Games also happen to be all-around exceptionally great individuals that I’m grateful to have met.

What is your final message to students who are applying for a co-op? 

Skills can be learned, experience comes with time.Your passion for what you do is your greatest asset.

Employers and other professionals share that passion, and will definitely recognize it. Find something about the co-op you’re applying to that you are truly excited about, share that enthusiasm during meetups and interviews, and be yourself.