Alumni Spotlight – Samik Bhowal class of 2008

Recently, we had the opportunity to catch up with ETC Alumnus Samik Bhowal, Class of 2008.  During an interview, we asked Samik to share reflections on his time at the ETC as well as what he has been doing since graduation.  Having completed his ETC degree almost ten years ago, Samik had a lot of  great information to share as well as helpful advice for current and future students.  Thank you Samik!

ETC Alumnus Samik Bhowal, Class of 2008, photo courtesy of Samik Bhowal

ETC: Please share your story since arriving at the ETC.

Samik Bhowal (08): It’s been ten years since I graduated from the ETC.  A whole decade!  I arrived in September, 2006, a week late thanks to some visa issues, and I was immediately thrown into the deep-end as a programmer in BVW.  I felt I was drowning, so it became a swim/sink moment for me.  After many all-nighters at the bullpen and with the support of my peers and faculty, I was able to learn quickly, find my pace and eventually present two of my projects in the final BVW show.  Surviving that brutal experience prepared me for the real world.  I secured an internship at Electronic Arts in Los Angeles where I worked on Boom Blox, a Wii game designed by Steven Spielberg.  After graduating from the ETC, I joined The Walt Disney Co. as a Software Engineer where I worked on Toontown Online, an MMORPG for children.  I later joined Electronic Arts in San Francisco to work on social and mobile games and then joined KIXEYE to lead one of their most profitable Facebook games – War Commander.  After spending a decade in the video game industry, I wanted to branch out to other industries and learn more skills.  I joined Amazon to lead software engineering for shopping applications and then joined Snapchat to lead their engineering team in San Francisco.  My hunger for learning didn’t stop, so I decided to pursue my MBA at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business during the evenings while working at Amazon.  Currently, I’m seeking to apply my game development, engineering management and business skills at early stage startups where I can potentially wear multiple hats to make my team successful.

 

ETC: What was the greatest lesson learned at the ETC that has helped you in your career?

Samik Bhowal (08):  Put 120% effort into your work.  The hard work doesn’t go unnoticed by your peers.  I was definitely not the sharpest programmer in class, but my peers at the ETC noticed the extra work I put in to ensure my work had that extra polish or didn’t break during a demo.

 

ETC: Tell us about your ETC Alumni Network.

Samik Bhowal (08): I’m extremely proud of the ETC alumni network.  I have seen my classmates at the ETC do incredible things over the past decade.  Some have built and scaled their own companies, while others have climbed the ranks to become Vice Presidents at large organizations.  I enjoy attending the ETC West Coast Dinners every year as it gives me an opportunity to not only meet new students but also keep in touch with alumni and see how everyone has progressed over the year.  It’s one of those events I never miss.  See you at the next ETC West Coast Dinner!

 

ETC: What advice do you have for current or future ETC students?

Samik Bhowal (08): If you are interested in the ETC, demonstrate passion for why you want to join the program, whether it be game development, computer animation, themed entertainment, etc., and create a portfolio that shows your skills and passion for the industry.  For students who are currently at the ETC, foster positive relationships with your peers.  Try to help your classmates in whatever way you can.  Making games is a team effort and nobody wants a bad team player on their team.  People remember positive memories for a long time, and they remember negative memories for a lot longer.  I’d like to share a quick anecdote on this front.  A couple of weeks ago in August 2018, my classmate and good friend from the ETC, Andy Jih, who is a Product Manager at Stripe invited me to his office for lunch.  We hadn’t met up in years.  During lunch, Andy insisted that I apply to Stripe and would be happy to give me a glowing recommendation because he loved working with me.  I thought to myself, “Did Andy and I ever work together?”, and then I remembered we spent a week working together during BVW’s Lightening Round in September, 2006.  Twelve years had passed, and Andy and I still cherished and fondly remembered our working relationship.  The game industry is tiny and people who you have positively impacted will go on to tell their friends about your attitude and work ethic.  Be sure to make those impressions now while still in school, because your peers today will go on to become the game development leaders of tomorrow.


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