How to find interactive software jobs in Chicago?
April 18, 2012 12:01 PM   Subscribe

How do talented but isolated creative snowflakes jobhunt from the UK? Two indie game folks seek new life in Chicago.

Seeking advice from people who have experience with creative job-hunting across continents (game development, interactive application dev), from UK to US, preferably in Chicago.

I know about Aquent from this old post. Any more pop up in the last 4 years? Are there other recruiters who specialize in creative recruitment or companies with an ethical mission statement?

Alternatively, any nonprofit orgs (museums, etc) who have creative/interactive design needs? I don't know how one gets connected to these things.

Owing to our particular circumstances we are somewhat isolated from the networks that would give us more insight. We have a friend that works at ThoughtWorks, but she's the only friend "on the ground" that has relevant connections.

Advice from Chicago natives who do funky cool things is also welcome.

Additional details (if anyone is interested):

I'm American, my partner is British so companies that are happy to sponsor a visa are a bonus, but not essential. We live in the UK. He is currently the Creative Director of an indie games company. I'm currently unemployed but was a production assistant at the same company (I have also been a designer and office manager). We're gunnin for Chicago because we've spent a lot of time there and have friends, plus I've got family nearby and we both know and love the city. The cost of living is also very appealing.

Both of us would like to stay with something techie and creative. Both of us are wary of the mainstream games industry (culture, work conditions), and are willing to branch out in lieu of "snowflake" alternatives. I'm happy to go into the broader world of software, but I'm not a coder and I'm not certain what my equivalent is in non-games software. We are not currently in a position to do a project independently.
posted by menialjoy to Work & Money (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's quite a few developers based out of Chicago. Ones that I have some personal knowledge of (mostly second hand, but)

Netherrealm is basically Midway's old MK studio, they did the generally well-received Mortal Kombat game last year as well as the pretty solid Arkham City iOS app. It looks like they're gearing up for something and hiring in a bunch of positions.

WMS (their site appears to be down now) is the "Williams" half of Midway that does casino games. It's a bit of a factory, but it's a great place to build your portfolio as they are constantly hiring for a range of creative and development positions.

There's also a lot of advertising in Chicago, sadly, one of our coolest interactive shops (Colossal Squid) closed up last year, but some of the bigger firms have interactive shops here, like LiquidThread
posted by Oktober at 12:36 PM on April 18, 2012

I'm a recruiter (not in your field) and, so, lean heavily toward the pragmatic. You've set a very high bar for yourselves. It's entirely possible that THE person you need to meet is reading this post. (From my lips to God's ears!) Absent that direct connection, however, wending your way to the connections you do need - without actually being in the city where you want to make them - is exceedingly difficult.

are willing to branch out in lieu of "snowflake" alternatives

These alternatives are likely available in a city as big as Chicago. Again, however, it can take a long time to connect with them from a distance. The spark of 'chemistry' makes such a big difference in making connections within the creative arena where you both feel at home. It can be hard to fan that spark into much of a flame if you're not there, in person.

Your citizenship gives you an advantage in being automatically authorized to work in the US. The best bet might be for the two of you to suck it up, financially (can you earn some extra money, now, to put in the pot?), so that you can come to Chicago and live for a few months while you find gainful employment. Any old job will do. Next step is to get Mr. Menialjoy authorized to work in the US. (I'm guessing the odds of his finding a "snowflake" alternative that is also prepared to be his H1-B sponsor are slim and none.) Once that's in place, his (and your) attention can be turned in the direction of the creative pursuit that brought you here in the first place.

Good luck.
posted by John Borrowman at 12:40 PM on April 18, 2012

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