GDC 2014

In December I started to plan my trip to the Game Developers Conference 2014 in San Francisco. Unluckily, it fell during one of the busiest times of the school year (Week 4 of Module 4) and was a fairly large investment, but I still decided to go because not only am I interested in games, but it’s an industry I would love to be a part of.  So on March 18th, I brought my suitcase with me to school and after a full day of classes, boarded a plane and headed to San Francisco!

The conference itself was a bit overwhelming at first. Having been to Tokyo Game Show (TGS) before, I half-knew what to expect, but the scale of GDC blew me away. It took up 3 massive convention centers! On top of that, the best and brightest developers in the industry were there and here I was – a student looking for a job. I had taken the advice of my friends and the BCC and set up a few meetings in advance, but for the most part I was going to have to figure it out on the fly. As such, I took the first day slowly – spending most of my time scoping out the companies I would like to learn more about and speaking with some of the larger studios.

That night I was able to attend some of the parties and really started to feel more confident about the entire trip. As someone who isn’t the best networker in the world, it was great to know that everyone at the conference already shared something in common (hint: we enjoy video games.) I met some great people and really started to enjoy myself. It was really nice to learn from professionals in the industry. I felt like it was a good day overall, but I really wanted to hit the ground running in the morning.

The next day (and the rest of the conference) proved to be just as awesome as I had hoped. I met tons of people, learned a bunch, and managed to get into some of the larger networking parties that night.  In one night, networking had turned into something that was enjoyable. I didn’t leave the conference with any job offers, but I had a bunch of leads and more than a handful of business cards.

Since coming back to Vancouver, it’s been nonstop between school and following up with everyone I met. The trip was absolutely worth it from both a learning and career development perspective.  It would have been nice to enjoy some of the sunny Californian weather, but with module 4 wrapping up soon maybe it won’t be so long before I return to Cali. Only next time, I hope it’s to start my career.


Trek Toronto – The Next Frontier

Among all the wonderful opportunities offered by this program, I believe that this was the one that contributed the most to my personal development. Along with this, I feel that I have obtained a clearer understanding of what my dream career path is.

The trek was a length of four days (Tuesday to Friday) during our break week. The schedule of our visits was excellently structured and the Business Career Center team was able to create a list of very interesting companies. We had the opportunity to visit companies of different sectors, from Facebook to IBM, from BMO to Google, and Labatt to Deloitte.

With a small group of MM colleagues, we decided to arrive to Toronto early in order to visit the city and understand what it would be like to live there. I must say we arrived to Toronto not in the coldest period, but most definitely not in spring. The city was covered in snow and it kept snowing during our entire visit. However, it made the environment even more magical and spectacular.

Both the visits to the companies and the alumni mixer were truly useful in understanding more about working environments and working possibilities. I would have never expected to see such a warm and creative environment within companies. It’s now clear to me how and why companies are driven to such perfection!

The opportunity to meet fantastic geniuses from big companies is not a frequent occurrence, and I would never have had the experience if I didn’t join the MM program. When it comes to applying for jobs or talking with friends about companies, you don’t really know how it is – you have to experience these things with your very own eyes. Some companies are so forward thinking and innovative that by just talking to them, it opened my mind to so many new perspectives.

I have just one comment about Trek Toronto: Fantastic!

And now… to the new adventure, to the final frontier!


A Taste of the Real World

It starts off on a Friday morning in November. You come in and get seated in a large, chic lecture theatre. Your guests are seated a few rows behind you. To start off the event, Jeff gets up from his seat in the first row of the theatre, walks up to the front and addresses the students:

 “…. Our guests today come from various organizations and each one of them will have five minutes to explain to you what their company does and what project they would like for you to work on with them. After all the speakers are through, you are free to talk to the ones that interest you and ask them questions to better gauge your interest in their proposed project…”.

And sure enough every organization has exactly five minutes to sell their project to you. Some people are enchanted by the companies, some by the exposure a project may provide and some by the *ehem* attractiveness of the presenter. 

 After hearing about the companies and talking to their representatives, you have to make your selection for the Community Business Project (CBP). It’s not as easy as it sounds. You have to write a 200 word essay on each of your top four choices and submit it to the Business Career Centre (BCC). Based on the assessment of these essays and that of other students, the BCC assigns you into groups of 3-4 to work on one of these projects.

You will work with this group from November till May and will essentially play the role of consultants for your client. You will hold meetings with your client regularly, get to know them and each other better, and define the scope of the project. You will work on this project tirelessly, navigate through obstacles and in the end produce a convincing report and presentation for the client.

But what the CBP is really aimed at it is providing you a taste of the real world. It is aimed at making you utilize the knowledge you gain in class and see the wonders it can do. It is aimed at polishing your skills, helping you develop new ones and building the confidence you need to distinguish yourself when interacting with the business community.

Someone once said to me, “Never consider your college, your university is to be the defining source of your education. The real source of education is your profession. What you learn over the course of your career is what defines you, what helps you grow and gain wisdom”. The CBP provides a doorway and helps you take that first step towards this enlightening path. But make sure you don’t forget to have a little fun as you walk through it!


Mursal Shamsi

What I Have Learned About Myself in This Program

Hello, hello! We meet again!

Today, I’d like to share with you three major things I’ve learnt about myself in the MM program. They’re not anything too novel or profound but definitely a refreshing revelation!

1. I enjoy teamwork.

My undergraduate scientific training involved largely individual work, so I’m used to working independently. The thought of suddenly having to work frequently in teams had both excited and concerned me. In my experience, level of motivation seems the most important differentiating factor for successful collaboration. But it’s not just how motivated you are, it’s also how you motivate the people around you–which is the tricky part. In the MM program, I’ve been part of diverse teams. Having a tendency to focus solely on the work, I continually remind myself to pay attention to team dynamics and to learn from the interactions of my team members. It’s certainly a continuous process of learning, which has given me a newfound appreciation for teamwork.

<I can still hear our Organizational Behaviour professor, Angela Kelleher, in my head saying, “Remember, you’re not a group. You’re a team!” *wild cheering* <- Alright, that’s just me adding sound effects.>

2. I can be good at time management.

One of the perks of teamwork is that it forces you to be accountable to your teammates. Nonetheless, discipline still ultimately comes from within. It may have worked in undergrad, but I told myself that procrastination is no longer acceptable as a graduate student. Amazingly (to me), juggling different team projects with individual assignments vastly improved my time management skills. Since the beginning of the program, I’ve done a fairly good job at keeping up with lectures, which means more time to reflect on the things I’ve learnt and less overall stress around exam time.

3. The day may come when I look forward to making presentations.

<What I’ve always said about presentations, “Singing in front of hundreds of people? No problemo! Just don’t ask me to talk. :D”>

In the Philippines during my childhood and teen years, I performed in many social events and in several singing and drama competitions. I love it and I look forward to it, but the key thing is that I’ve done it so many times that it’s become natural. When I think back to my earlier years, it actually took a lot of time and encouragement from my mom and teachers to get me on the stage. My mom had to take time off from her busy work schedule to accompany me to every practice session because I was too shy.

I’ve never particularly liked talking in front of many people, even just in the classroom and especially when it’s not rehearsed because I sometimes lose my English (which isn’t my first language). But now that I’ve a few presentations under my belt (which I forced myself to do even if it was optional), I can say that presenting is really the same as singing in front of an audience. The first time was the most difficult, but it gets easier and easier. Just give myself time to practice enough, and practice in front of my team or another person. Plus, it’s hard not to even try with so many of my supportive classmates cheering me on during presentations.

I look forward to seeing you again in my next post! 🙂

Rachel Lim

Life in Vancouver

What makes Vancouver so great? Just about everything. You can kayak and ski in the same day here – seriously. It would be a challenge to find something that you can’t do in Vancouver. Below I’ve outlined the reasons why I like to call Vancouver home:

  1. The food. The food the food the food. I love trying new restaurants, and there is never a shortage of those here. Virtually every cuisine you can think of is represented in some way in Vancouver. We even have a food truck festival in the summer. Throughout the rest of the year there are food trucks dispersed all around the city – one of my favourites is Tacofino (get a fish taco!).
  2. The weather. People might complain about the rain, but I don’t mind it. Living in a city where -5 is a freezing day is my kind of city.
  3. The mountains and ocean. I grew up in Vancouver and I’m still in awe of its beauty.
  4. The culture. Vancouver is a melting pot – there are so many cultures represented and celebrated here. One event I look forward to every year is Italian Day on Commercial Drive. The Asian population is a significant influence on the culture of Vancouver, and there are many celebrations throughout the year associated with different Asian cultures – all of which are fun to attend.
  5. The size. Vancouver is a city, but you still can run into people you know at the grocery store. There are distinct neighborhoods in Vancouver that all have a community feel. In Kitsilano, my neighborhood, I know some of the small business owners just from shopping at their stores.

I like to be a tourist in my own city, so I’ve outlined 5 must-do Vancouver activities below:

  1. Bike the seawall around Stanley Park.
  2. Either hike the Grouse Grind (or take the gondola…I won’t judge you) up Grouse Mountain to see the most amazing views of the city.
  3. Wander around Gastown – our own cobblestone neighborhood! Some of the best restaurants are there, along with some great shopping
  4. Eat sushi! Anywhere! Well, maybe not anywhere, but we have some fantastic sushi restaurants here. If you’re looking for more upscale, try Miku, for the middle of the road: Hapa Izakaya, and for a funky sushi experience: The Eatery.
  5. Finally, one of my favourite things to do (and I do this often!) is to visit Granville Island. There are restaurants, art galleries, produce, flowers, toys, and everything in between. It’s in a gorgeous location and I always find something new there.

Off to eat some sushi…. Maddie

Rate my Prof.

Let’s take a minute to talk about teachers. A real, 60 second minute.

Yes, those people who painstakingly taught you how to write your own name, do cursive (which I’m sure they now teach on iPads) and basic addition and subtraction. From your pre-school teacher to your favourite PhD toting master’s professor we all have educators we can look back on and appreciate for the impact they have had on our lives as students. Coming into Sauder from my undergraduate degree in Political Science from here at UBC I knew that the quality of the faculty at this school was incredibly high. I had the most incredible professors during my undergrad, with the exception of the occasional research based one who couldn’t care less about actually relaying information to students. You’re always worried about what your professor will be like on the first day of class – it really makes all the difference. Let me just say the first day of every new period has not not failed to disappoint.

The Sauder School of Business is known for many things, but man can their teachers teach. These people are highly accomplished in their chosen field to the point where you have moments in class where you sit back and mumble under your breath things like “genius”. Those are called lightbulb moments and they happen to me all the time. I just want to sit there and soak up everything that they know into my brain, as if being in the same room as these people will make me like them by osmosis. I was truly amazed when I realized I had learned basic finance and accounting, and I’m ashamed to say a lot of it had nothing to do with me. It had to do with my professors, people who made the subjects I was struggling to learn as digestible and learnable as possible. Real teachers, not just researchers who lecture on occasion but people who educate and do it really, really well.

These professors care about your success and learning more than you do at times, and they are of such high quality that you wish you could sit in on their classes until you were 80. You come to appreciate anyone who is truly great at something and I have come to appreciate the educators who have made this program truly great.

Until next time,


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