"Being an EA means that you are making a positive commitment to change."
We hear from Declan, an Enterprise Adviser and Chief Executive of Into Games, a non-profit dedicated to providing better career pathways into the video games industry for young people, no matter their background or life experience. Here, he tells us how he helps inspire young people to consider a career in the gaming industry.
I began my journey as an Enterprise Adviser (EA) in 2018.
Having had a pretty poor experience with my own careers ‘specialist’ as a teenager back in the ’90s, I felt like I wanted to help schools get better at providing the kind of support I would have liked to have had back then. Something that was practical, led by industry and more important than anything, inspiring.
Coincidently, every EA I’ve ever met since then has had exactly the same reason for joining! It seemed careers advice had been in need of a shakeup for quite some time!
My day job is heading up, Into Games, the national skills and careers service for the videogames industry - I was an EA before I started in this position and I definitely feel that the experience of working with a school on their careers offering influenced my decision to do what I do now.
Into Games was founded in 2019, and shortly after we launched, we set about finding a board of trustees. One of our first confirmed board members was Tamsin O'Luanaigh’, one of the co-founders of the virtual reality game developers, NDreams and a passionate advocate of better careers advice.
After meeting, we quickly realised that we were both EA’s and this shared identity quickly bonded us. Finding out someone is an EA is like a social shortcut, you immediately to know that the person you’ve just met deeply cares about education and young peoples success, which means you are probably going to get on!
We both shared a real enthusiasm for the scheme and regaled each other with our successes (and challenges!) during our time as EA’s. My highlights included raising £5,000 for my school’s STEM projects, which focussed on students connecting with companies that work on clean energy programmes and how we’d put together a successful careers day around space and aeronautics.
Working with schools
Tamsin equally had her favourite moments, like when she worked with the school leadership to introduce several work experience programmes for dance & drama students with CV writing and formal interview practise sessions. She also helped the introduction of Industry Boards to the college to ensure the faculties were gaining the latest insight and needs from relevant businesses.
Crucially, Tamsin and her company contributed to the total redesign of the colleges Game Design course and sponsored an award for upcoming students.
All these changes made huge differences for students and their career information, which never would have happened without the EA scheme. Both, I and Tamsin agreed that more people with gaming backgrounds should sign up, providing access to students to a growing creative industry that is now bigger than music or film.
Anyone has the capability to have a career in games if they know what the options are. Having an EA from the games industry in a school would open up that conversation and a world of possibilities to students.
Being an EA means that you are making a positive commitment to change. It’s a simple way of supporting your community and providing a better standard of education for our young people. I’d recommend anyone try it out and see how much of a difference you can make - it’s worth it.
Declan, Enterprise Adviser and Chief Executive of Into Games