Getting paid to play games sounds like one of those childhood pipe dreams—ones that most people respond to with a warning: “You should probably have a backup plan.”
But a snagging a career in gaming—whether online or on the field—actually isn’t impossible. Whether you want to develop games, acquire new users, or manage accounts with the biggest names in sports, there are roles available for almost every type of professional.
Just ask these five gaming enthusiasts, who turned their passions for gaming and sports into careers, from the technical side of coding to relationship-based sales and client management. Read on to find out more about how they molded their career paths to bring them to where they are now.
Director, Sales Training, GolfNow
When Jessica Elkins began working on golf courses after high school, she fell in love. By spending so much time on the green, she gathered an extensive knowledge of the sport and—inevitably—ended up picking up the game herself. Not surprisingly, that soon led her to look for a job at the Golf Channel.
After eight months in advertising for GolfChannel.com, Elkins jumped at the chance to apply for a sales management position at GolfNow, a startup that helps other golf fanatics find open tee times that fit their schedule and budget. In this role, she’s in charge of helping new hires get their career paths started and encouraging existing employees in their professional development. And, yes, she still gets plenty of time on the green.
User Acquisition Manager, Pocket Gems
After attending business school in London, Aditya Josyula knew exactly the kind of organization he wanted to work for: a small, consumer-facing tech company where he could have a big impact. He was eager to get into the tech and startup arena, but even more, he was excited to work with mobile gaming, which was—and still is—growing quickly. “People tell me it feels like how the internet was in the late ’90s,” he explains.
Josyula’s main goal is to get users engaged with the company’s new products and games. He works with internal teams to develop marketing initiatives, as well as external channels to acquire new players. After all, you may have awesome games, but that doesn’t matter if no one is playing them.
Lead Production Engineer, JustinTV
In college, Justin Ignacio’s weekends were spent broadcasting StarCraft II. Naturally, he began to get better and better at streaming—and more and more passionate about it. Word got around about his skills, and one of his friends at JustinTV asked him to fix the company’s stream for IGN. A few days later, the company offered him a job.
In his current role, Ignacio is in charge of customer support and outreach, so he spends most of his days fixing users’ streaming issues via Skype. Occasionally, he’ll travel to events to troubleshoot issues and talk to new users and pro gamers alike.
Director, Client Management, Omnigon
Growing up, Becki Wronko wanted to go to law school and become a sports agent. And while she didn’t quite follow that exact path, she did end up landing a job at Madison Square Garden, which allowed her to work around athletic events. During her time there, she worked with sports communications agency Omnigon as a client and developed a passion for its mission—so she jumped at the opportunity to become part of the team.
As the director of client management, Wronko spends much of her time interacting with clients (think Fox Sports and the PGA Tour), figuring out what they need and how Omnigon can help. She works closely with the project management and design teams to develop products and launch projects for her clients.
Community Manager, Apportable
“I thought about being a television news anchor, a journalist, a lawyer, or an international diplomat,” Christina Kelly shares. And while she admits all of her options were interesting, “they didn’t quite tap into any kind of passion that I had.”
However, the summer before her senior year of college, she studied abroad in Korea—and that’s where she discovered Korean professional StarCraft. She’d known about the game since high school, but this experience brought it to another level. “That’s when I decided I had to work in video games,” she recalls.
As Apportable’s community manager, Kelly oversees everything from business development to client relations. “I really don’t ever get bored,” she shares, “because I’m doing so many different things!” And, of course, working with games.