[game_edu] GDC with Students
ai864 at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 21 22:37:15 EDT 2011
First off, glad to see this - great question, and great to see one more school offering this kind of opportunity to its students.
>1) Nearby hotels. Hotels within safe walking distance that only cost an arm,
>not necessarily an arm and a leg!!! Due to costs, at this point I am opting
>to have students 4 to a room, one room would be for male students and the
>other for females. I'm open to other suggestions to cut down on costs.
Ask hotels about the costs for a suite. It's more expensive than a hotel room but you can pack a lot more people in there, and the accommodations are outstanding. If you already do a lot of travel to conferences, ask about "frequent guest" programs at hotels (like frequent fliers on airlines) - all the major chains and some of the smaller hotels offer these, and you can rack up a lot of points fast if you've got a pile of students. You can also call a hotel and ask if they can offer a bulk discount rate if you book a bunch of rooms at once. And like Monji said, hostels are a super low-cost alternative - I've had some students report great things about hostels, others that have found them to be a bit on the seedy side, so I think quality varies a bit.
Another thing you can do is make this a student project. Have them research hotel costs themselves, see what they can find - I bet some of them will beat whatever your school's travel agency can do for you ;-)
>2) Inexpensive food options for students.
Every year when I go, my first stop is to find a local CVS, Walgreens or equivalent, and stock up on nonperishables. It's convenience-store prices and not grocery-store, but at least it's kinder to the wallet than eating out for every meal. Not advised to take food on the plane; certain types can get confiscated by the TSA, as I painfully found out last time (grrr).
Also, lots of parties offer free food of a wide variety. Students should be on a quest to secure party locations/invites anyway. Not always the healthiest option (nor is eating out) but it beats starving.
>3) Help with registration costs, other than the early bird registration.
If you've got a large group going, contact GDC directly; you might be able to get a slight volume discount.
Also, if any students return the following year or have been there before, they get an alumni discount that stacks with early bird.
>4) High-impact fundraising ideas that students can engage in now to raise money for the trip.
Consider the value of subsidies vs. full scholarships: is it better to go "halfsies" with 8 students or give a full ride to 4? Make 'em work for it, especially if they have enough advance warning to take that part-time job and save away for it - GDC is very affordable on a student budget *if* they use the proceeds from work-study (or similar) to pay for it, rather than spending that money on entertainment. Advantages: more students can go with you,
Look for ways to reduce the cost of travel. Group discounts on airlines / frequent flier miles? Road trip?
Family. I had one student who saved up on their own to attend GDC with a three-day pass; when the parents saw the dedication, they paid to upgrade to an All Access. When family asks what the student wants for their birthday or the holidays, "cash for GDC" is a great answer.
>5) Any advice from people who have taken students before. (What are the must
>do's for those three days for them? Any issues or problems that you've
>experienced that might help me prepare better? Etc.)
I second Darius's series of networking articles. Make those required reading :)
Coordinate. The day you get there, look over the schedule with them and figure out what sessions everyone is going to. In any given block of time there's usually 3 to 5 great sessions, so have them split up to cover everything, take great notes, and report back to pool their knowledge later. (Even better: have them report back to their classmates when they return, either writing or live-presenting summaries of each session they went to.)
Do make some time to visit the Career Expo. For students about to graduate, it is rare but not unheard of to leave GDC with a job offer. For students who aren't about to graduate, they can take a look at what companies are looking for, what kinds of open positions they have, what the job market looks like... and at least for booths that aren't perpetually mobbed, they can talk in a low-pressure situation where the person across the desk knows they're not going to get hounded for a job. I've had some students say they thought the career area was the most useful part of GDC, others say it's totally worthless, but at least it's an experience. (Additional advice: grab swag if you must, but the priority here should be networking, not swag. Students can do the mental calculation: how much is this Blizzard coffee mug worth to me in dollars? How many dollars did I pay to get here? Is this a good monetary use of my time?)
Great time to hit the Expo: during the Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo keynotes. These are not remotely useful to students who are trying to learn anything about the industry, and while the crowds are over there, they'll have the Expo nearly to themselves.
Meal time is not just food time. Two great uses of time while eating:
1) Meet as a group to debrief and share what you learned that day.
2) Go out and eat with other people you don't know, and meet them. Network!! (Hint: if you're hunting for food and don't know where to go, CAs are remarkably clueful about this, and they tend to eat in groups as well. They also tend to know where the fun after-hours events are, if you listen in nicely.)
>6) Anything else you can think of!
Minimize drinking. I've had a perfectly good time every year at GDC even though I don't drink. Even if the people you're with are drinking, you can still have a conversation with them. (If they're REALLY drunk, it's easier to get their business card and a job offer, but harder to make them remember anything they said the next day ;-)
Use jet lag to your advantage. If you're awake early, you can hang out at the Moscone with the other early birds and get some great networking in. (Hint: traditionally, I'm over there at 7-ish with a backpack full of board games, Moscone West 3rd floor right by the escalators. If I'm running late, others of similar mind are usually there, too.)
GDC is a high-energy low-sleep event and you really need to stay in top form to get the most out of it. Take your best shot at good nutrition (vitamins are good, "energy drinks" not so much). Be in good physical shape before you get there (now's as good a time as any to start a workout program like c25k). Get a really good night's sleep the night before you leave. Especially if anyone is going to be there the whole week, decide on one night to take off and get to bed early - you will be SO much happier on Friday for it.
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