What’s better than playing one of your favorite 2K games on a lazy Sunday afternoon?
How about having the opportunity to contribute to those games alongside other ambitious individuals?
Global video game publisher 2K is making it even easier for fledgling technologists to achieve this dream with two new graduate programs, offering early-career professionals entry into the fascinating world of game development and publishing through hands-on experience. Both programs, which run for 21 months each, give new graduates the opportunity to build impactful connections and hone valuable skills that they can carry over into full-time careers.
“I never thought I would find myself working in the gaming industry, but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” said Roisin Barry, a former publishing grad program participant. “It’s not just about playing games — it’s an industry filled with creativity, innovation and endless opportunities for your unique perspective to have a direct impact on the product. I have met so many incredibly talented people at 2K, forged lifelong friendships and gained invaluable experience.”
“It’s not just about playing games — it’s an industry filled with creativity, innovation and endless opportunities for your unique perspective to have a direct impact on the product.”
As Barry can attest, you don’t have to be a gaming enthusiast to be a good fit for the grad programs. Rather than look for one particular degree or skill set, the company welcomes graduates from many subject areas, including science, economics, engineering, philosophy, computer science and mathematics.
While those who take part in the programs come from diverse educational backgrounds, there are three qualities they have in common: curiosity, motivation and ambition. Additionally, engineering program participants should have excellent programming, numerical and technical skills and should be proactive learners eager to take on new challenges.
Like Barry, many participants feel deeply impacted by their experience in one of 2K’s programs. In fact, every participant has something to gain, whether that involves diving into growth initiatives or, as is the case for one individual, pursuing a lifelong passion.
“It’s amazing and humbling to be among a group of talented peers,” one participant said. “I’ve played video games my whole life, and this feels like the natural next step for me as an engineer, creating the thing that I love.”
Founded in 2005, 2K develops and publishes interactive entertainment for video game consoles, personal computers and mobile devices, with product availability that includes physical retail and digital downloads. The company is home to several development studios, including Visual Concepts, Firaxis Games, Hangar 13, Cat Daddy Games, 31st Union, Cloud Chamber and HB Studios. 2K’s portfolio currently includes several AAA brands, including NBA 2K, BioShock, Borderlands, Mafia, Sid Meier’s Civilization, WWE 2K and PGA TOUR 2K.
A Tale of Two Programs
Publishing and development are both critical components of the gaming industry, which is why 2K offers programs dedicated to both of these areas.
Working out of Dublin, Ireland, publishing program grads have the opportunity to manage both external and internal advertising, coordinate budget spend, delve into marketing technology, shape live services within games, spearhead growth initiatives, unravel player insights and analytics, craft global marketing strategies and implement go-to-market plans. These rotations last for three months and allow grads to customize their journeys with the company to cater to specific career interests and development.
On the other hand, the company’s engineering grad program, which is hosted in Dublin, Ireland, and Novato, California, dives deep into the world of game development. Once participants have been selected, they begin their program experience with onboarding, comprehensive core skills training and continuous development offerings, so they have the resources and tools they need to thrive.
This initial three-month period in the engineering grad program involves practical technical training, which includes gaining an understanding in gaming engines like Unreal Engine 5 and mastering C++. During this time, participants also get to work on building their own game, applying new skills they learn each week to do so. While a relatively short period of time, this section of the program offers a strong foundation upon which engineers can begin building their gaming careers.
“It honestly feels like I’ve been handed a golden ticket into the gaming industry,” said Diogo Silva, an engineering program participant. “In just three short months, we’ve gained meaningful technical skills that we’ll hone throughout our careers and tons of industry insight that would have otherwise taken years to build up.”
“It honestly feels like I’ve been handed a golden ticket into the gaming industry.”
Following three months of core training and project work, engineering program participants spend the next 18 months working directly with 2K-partnered studios, including Hangar 13, Cloud Chamber, Mass Media Group and many more. Participants rotate between studios, participating in customized onboarding each time while striving toward established learning outcomes and goals.
By offering exposure to different studio environments and cultures, the program enables aspiring developers to grow significantly and gain as much knowledge as possible.
“An immense amount of thought and effort is put into giving us a broad perspective of the game development process as a whole,” one program participant remarked.
Yet 2K’s engineering grad program isn’t just defined by hard work. Participants also engage in various fun events, such as Game Jam, in which they build their own games by collaborating in teams with their peers and putting their new skills to work.
Whether laughing with friends or strengthening their coding skills, those who take part in one of 2K’s grad programs gain cherished memories and profound professional experiences. And although the publishing and engineering programs may have different outcomes, the goal of each one is the same: to find participants a permanent role at 2K or one of the company’s studios.
For Andrew McClean, an engineering program participant, the 2K grad program is an experience that budding developers will never forget.
“I feel like I’ve learned more about game development in the short time I’ve been here than I ever thought possible,” McClean said.