Some Advice for Summering Students

Hi everyone – I am back from vacation! I took a week away from being in the Philly area, and a weird thing happened – I left in the winter, and returned in the summer. I think I literally missed all of spring here.

This is the time of year when students are getting out of school. I’ve had a lot of opportunity to talk to university students in my new role, and prior to that, I’ve taught and of course been a student. So I feel safe to say I know a lot about being a college student.

When I was an undergrad, I did a summer job when I returned home from college. It was a great experience and I met cool people and made some money, but I never stopped to think about how that small job would work into my larger career. If I had, I might’ve considered doing something more related to my career, or at least realized that I spent most of my spare time noodling around with game development instead of thinking about my summer dayjob…

The internet has really changed things, though. The resources for you to learn what you’re interested in, on your own time, have never been more easily available. (Especially if you’re into games like me.) So while you have summer – even if you have to work a summer job to make ends meet – it’s a good time to consider what you might be really passionate about working on outside the classroom.

To that end: download all the free stuff.

There’s so much stuff available to you while you are still a student (and have a .edu email address) that you just won’t be able to get cheaply after you graduate. If you did just graduate or are about to graduate, and your .edu email still works, don’t wait another day to get logged into free services and get the software you might need… it was a rude awakening for me when I realized just how expensive this stuff is outside of school, and you could save thousands of dollars.

Microsoft has DreamSpark especially for students. DreamSpark gives students free access to Visual Studio (the full Pro version) and Office 365 subscriptions (which anyone can make use of) as well as other development tools. Full list is at http://www.dreamspark.com, but if you sign up through http://aka.ms/DreamSparkContest you’ll also be eligible to win a free Xbox One Titanfall Edition from Microsoft, so try that route first. To me, though, the cool thing isn’t that you maybe win a free Xbox – the cool thing is you definitely get a lot of free software, that will cost you a lot more after you’ve graduated.

I always point artists toward http://students.autodesk.com. Here you can get 3D Studio Max, AutoCAD, Maya, and more as long as you are a student. This is thousands of dollars of savings on the tools professionals use.

There’s no catch for signing up for any of this stuff… it’s just free stuff, for you, for being a student. (The full terms of the Xbox contest are here.)

Everyone’s situation is different, but if your summers are anything like my summers were, they’re a good time to put some energy into a creative passion project without the pressure of grades and assignments. And maybe go on just one crazy road trip (stay safe though). Good luck, don’t forget to have fun, and if you have questions for me I have office hours or you can just drop me a note!