Missed our Events AMA Panel? Here’s your TL;DR.
The Tespa AMA series invites professionals from the gaming industry to discuss career development and to provide insight about different careers within the gaming industry. Topics include career paths, networking, and tips for applying and interviewing for jobs and internships.
Our fifth AMA featured gaming industry event planners from 100 Thieves, NYXL, and Beyond The Summit! In this AMA, we covered how they got to their current position and the lessons they have learned throughout their careers.
1) Make sure you know the answer to the questions “why” and “what purpose” when creating an event.
Having an understanding of why you are creating an event will help make your event standout.
Sab: The “why” is a big question some people don't ask themselves. You think "Oh, I need to throw this event because I need the campaign box. Or, a rival school is holding an event." You should understand the impact you have when you throw an event. The industry is so small, but at the same time rapidly growing. If you bring something new to the table, it will be noticed. With LA Valiant, something I really pushed for was the Girl's Summit. The only reason we put on the event is because we knew it would have that impact. Be proud of yourself when you accomplish something cool.
Dan: Something I always keep in mind is "What is the point of this? Why are we making this?" Everything we do should fit the narrative. We're trying to build the local scene not just for NYXL but for the gaming scene in NY and beyond. As an example, we partnered with an after school program that serviced 25,000 students in NYC, which fits into our localization for OWL, but also benefits the New York community by allowing students who may not have access to consoles and computers the chance to explore these games and introduce them to esports. Our goal is to create a diverse and unified community that goes beyond just a normal watch party or tournament.
Julie: When I first heard the question, I was thinking more from the standpoint that, at our company, someone will pitch an idea, and one of the main things we have to consider is our use of resources. This isn't like a feelsgood answer, but it's along the same lines - does it make sense to run the event? What can we do to make it more feasible? Spend less time and resources on it? In the events industry, we often spend many, many hours, so being prepared to take care of your team, and knowing how long you're going to need to spend on the planning and execution is really important.
2) Values and collaboration are important factors in building a positive community gaming culture.
Sab: Know what your positive values are first. It's easy to say you want to build a community, but what do you want that community to be?
Dan: I came to notice that the people you attract are the characteristics you embody as a leader. When you have your first involvement fair and you do it with a happy face, that's what attracts people. When you stand in front of the student body, they're attracted to your energy. So it's important to recruit people who embody your values. Make the leaders you select practice their talk, and then walk the walk.
Julie: Collaboration. Listen to what other people want to see and do. Listen to feedback and consider how you can be more inclusive. For BTS, we read all the things on social and reddit which can be either really toxic, or super heartwarming, but we read everything and we take it very seriously. This applies to any organization or business.
3) Focus on building community first before approaching sponsors.
Approaching sponsors can be tough, especially as a new club. Here are some great tips from our panelists on how to approach this task.
Sab: First, consider what you bring to the table. Why should a company sponsor you? It's important to remember always to work as a team -- it is not possible to be a one person team. Second, sort them into buckets based on what their value is. Making an event is never easy, but being focused and understanding your priorities is helpful to securing sponsors.
To add onto Dan's point, sponsors are the cherry on top. Build out your community first.
Dan: As an up and coming club, it's important to focus less on securing sponsors, and more on your chapter members and community. By creating a strong community culture, you'll attract more members, and securing sponsors will come more naturally.
Julie: Once you can measure the impact that your event has, have this information prepared for a sponsor, as this will help them understand part of your value. Your club has value! People are interested in you and what you have to say. When you're ready to start a conversation with a sponsor, be conscious of your outreach, your professionalism, and how you present yourself so that sponsors do take you seriously.
4) Expect the unexpected and learn from them!
We asked our panelists about a time when they had everything planned, then something unexpected happened, and how they handled it.
Sab: We're in the midst of hosting this huge LAN and there's not enough bandwidth to handle running 12 computers with Overwatch at the same time. I had contacts at Blizzard on the phone, I was talking to the school. Making sure it's right was number 1, and talking through the steps to fix the problem with my team was number 2. Utilizing the officers who understood tech combined with my ability to talk to people and the school made us able to put out the fire without anyone knowing.
Dan: A lot of time, things out of your control will happen. It's important to remember to keep the event going. If you as the project manager or lead break down, everyone will break down, and that causes panic. As the event coordinator or lead, it's important that you take charge and delegate responsibilities. Stay focused, take charge, and do what you gotta do - frag out! There are going to be times where things go wrong -- maybe the internet doesn't come back, but keep a note so that you know how to deal with these issues in the future. Learn so that you can do better next time.
Julie: We had tens of thousands of people watching a stream and we had a tech issue where the stream went down. So someone took their phone, and did a stream from their phone, and gave a tour of our studio. It looked like it was filmed on a potato, but it was what we had to do to keep viewers entertained. Keep a positive attitude and know that getting frustrated or upset isn't helping anyone, it's adding to an already stressful environment. If you have to step outside to take a moment to do so, do it so that you can take care of your team.
5) Go to events and network!
For those of you who want to pursue a career in event management, here is some advice from our panelists on how you can keep moving in the right direction!
Sab: Definitely go to events. It sounds really obvious, but you really need to put yourself out there. I know some of us aren't able to access events as easily, but if you can really invest your time, patience and even some money to just go to something like PAX, or a small LAN, you’ll get to know the people running the events which goes a long way. I got to meet Noah Whinston after going to the LCS, and I left an impression on him when I told him my goals and interests which is why he offered me a job. Any free time you have, try to make something happen. It doesn't even have to be in person. Get your name out there now. Pursuing a career is for those who push themselves hard. GPA and going to a good school is nice, but what matters is what you've actually done. If you're holding events for your chapter, you are already ahead of the game.
Dan: Be organized and learn to delegate. Events can be laborious. There will be times when you're up all night finalizing details and then you have to go in early to set up and stay up late to tear down. Hopefully not often, but it happens. It's hard, but events can be the most rewarding. We can celebrate other people, it's fun, and I encourage you to continue going to events. Take in the details when you go to something like LCS. What's their floor plan? How much are tickets? Who are the sponsors?
My last bit of advice is to leave as many doors open as you can. If you talk to someone, it may not immediately be the right time, but keep that option open for the future. They may surprise you.
Julie: Networking is so important. Never say no to an opportunity. Keep an open mind. Be willing to do anything. Never feel like anything is beneath you. My senior project manager was legit in a dumpster flattening boxes. Yes, there are probably other things he could have been doing, but sometimes you just have to do it. That's something we look at a lot at our events with part-time contractors. If they have a good attitude, we want to bring those people back. So volunteer, do internships. My wedding experience was just a hobby, but I learned a lot. Even if your degree isn't related, don't worry because you can get certifications to fill in your gap knowledge, and it looks good on a resume.
6) Some departing words from our guests
Sab: Right now there are so many esports organizations for people across the United States to get involved in. In the past, esports teams were centralized around Santa Monica or southern California. Collegiate is on the rise, even in OWL teams. Always talk to people in your region in Tespa! You never know who is going to be your co-worker. The Tespa Chapter Leader network is so valuable. Never lose your passion or your path. Things might not work out and it might get hard, but just keep going. I always think to myself, "How did I end up here?" and I have to remind myself, I put in hours! I made sure my organizations could be the best they could be, and now I'm here.
Dan: We're all in this together. Esports is it's own small bubble. Even though big corporations are getting involved, the experts are you guys. Keep in touch with us, and know we're always able to answer your questions. Many of the people in attendance today are going to be people that you work with in the future. Keep fraggin' out!
Julie: Work hard, but don't kill yourself over work. You need to take care of yourself and your team. Don't try to do things alone. Be smart about your health, mentally and physically. Delegate tasks. I struggled with this -- in university, I took on way too much, and many of you may be the same way. Understand what you need to do to recharge, and take that time for yourself.
As a part of Tespa, you have valuable experience, and you will find a place that is a good fit for you. Keep going! I know that it's tough but keep your head up, and keep applying. Make a spreadsheet of the places that you've applied to track the positions you've applied to and to stay organized.