Two Acadia students offered prestigious game-development internships
Two computer science undergraduates from Acadia University have embarked on a remarkable career-building experience. James Robinson (’24) and Selina Mailman (’25) have joined a select group of student interns to undertake an 11-week program in game development and entrepreneurship this summer.
Every year, hundreds of college and university students apply for the 25 internships in the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) Summer Innovation Program, based in Worcester, Massachusetts. Interns attend free of charge, and Robinson and Mailman are the only Canadian students attending in 2023.
Acadia alum Monty Sharma ('86), Managing Director of MassDiGI since its inception in 2011, encouraged Acadia students to apply when he made a presentation on campus last fall.
“The fundamental thing we try to do at MassDiGI is give students a bridge to the working world,” Sharma says. “Going from scratch to a finished game is really hard. They chart out the plan and figure out what needs to be done, which is a significant accomplishment. And they come out with tremendous skills, sense of self, sense of teamwork, and extensive planning experience.”
UNIQUE CAREER OPPORTUNITY
Robinson, entering his final year of a Bachelor of Computer Science with Honours, is keen to meet and collaborate with a diverse group. “There are computer scientists, writers and artists, all with the shared goal of making a game,” he says. “It’s exciting to get these different perspectives, hear everyone’s unique experiences, and get their ideas. This is huge, career-wise. And Acadia has been great. The environment we have here, with the smaller class sizes and more student-professor interaction opportunities, opened the door for this experience.”
Mailman, who has completed her second year of a Bachelor of Applied Computer Science with Game Development Specialization, is excited and grateful for the opportunity. “New country, new friends, an amazing experience where I get to build a game,” she says. “I’m most excited to be able to be there in person, get down to it, and start working on building a game. Learning as I go and figuring it out. For my career, this is a wonderful opportunity because this is where I want to go eventually. Darcy Benoit and Anna Redden have been amazing resources for the whole process – the application and even guidance after the fact.”
STRONG SUPPORT FROM ACADIA
Acadia students were invited to apply through Dr. Darcy Benoit, Director of Jodrey School of Computer Science, and Dr. Anna Redden, Associate Vice-President, Research, Innovation, and Graduate Studies.
“We looked for students who had teamwork skills as well as strong grades who would be good representatives of Acadia on the world stage,” Benoit says. “MassDiGI is in high demand. It offers a unique experience for students to work with different people and different aspects of game development. At Acadia, we teach them core concepts and knowledge, but applying those in the world is important. In terms of the mentors and the other students that will be there, it is a really good experience for them. And having that experience brought back to the other students in our program in the fall is going to be invaluable.”
“This is an amazing international opportunity for Selina and James to work with other interns and inspiring mentors from the growing digital games industry,” Redden says. “Experiential opportunities like this are truly life-changing and open both minds and doors to new ideas and career paths. We are looking forward to Selina and James presenting on their game-development activities with MassDiGI to the campus community in the fall. I have no doubt that this will ignite excitement and inspire other students at Acadia to apply for the 11-week internship opportunity in 2024.”
“I’ve talked to a lot of universities about this program, and Acadia put more support behind their students than any other institution has,” Sharma says. “I think the big value for a place like Acadia is that the students go back to their host institution and share what they’ve learned about managing a project, about communication, about design. That gets passed on to all the other students they work with. And over the years, we’ve seen a broad lift across the entire institution as all the student teams start to operate better.”
“We’re very happy to have our students representing us at MassDiGI,” Benoit adds. “We're proud of our students.”
For a peek into the Summer Innovation Program, watch the five-minute video All about SIP!