Faculty Outside the Classroom
Other ambassadors and I have written before about the importance of interacting with professors. Most IGM tours and open houses also come with the advice to meet your professors, and get to know them. Which is true - they’re fantastic people and the best resource when you’re struggling in a class or want to extend your knowledge.
But there’s also all the instructors that you don’t take classes with, and they’re pretty cool as well. I’ve seen a tendency over the years to go through the first couple semesters, and then stick with the instructors you connect with for the rest of the degree. Admittedly, it helps make classes more consistent and you learn what teaching style you’re getting into. But there’s no reason to wait for a class to get to know the teacher, or even limit interaction with faculty to the classroom. In IGM, many of the staff and faculty members actively engage with the labs and IGM as a whole. It’s hard to see an event, game jam, or even busy work day without an instructor at least coming by to say hello.
Through these types of interactions, I’ve gotten to know the team behind IGM much better. My ColorCoded project, which got me and my team a co-op at MAGIC Spell Studios over the summer, kept going from one of the instructors pushing us forward. We’d never taken a class with him (still haven’t, though that’s due to unfortunate scheduling), but we did work on it at a game jam he held. And then he kept poking us, asking when we were submitting, or how far we’d come. And he became a fantastic resource - we could go to him with any question about the game competition. Asking for advice on paperwork turned into asking for software help, and then we started going to him for general classwork assistance. Again, that didn’t start with a class, but because we kept returning to this instructor. In fact, we still talk to him, and now I’m one of his Teaching Assistants for Data Structures and Algorithms.
While I have had great chances to meet the faculty and staff through the ambassador program,and now the BS/MS program, these opportunities aren’t limited to those roles. A third-year friend of mine had a great discussion with a professor during one of the mega-game events at IGM, and then went to help write the rules and run the next game. One of the best things about the IGM team is they want the students to succeed, even if it’s not someone from their class. They are all incredible resources, whether it’s finding research projects, extracurricular activities, or just needing help on homework. I’ve been able to learn things ranging from GDC (Game Developer Conference) advice, coding tricks, and even reading recommendations from these conversations. There’s no reason to limit your resources just to instructors you’ve had a class with. Meeting other teachers and learning their areas of interest is an important part in maximizing what you get out of both the IGM and RIT experience. And as a final bonus, making new friends is always a good thing.