Dev

May. 22, 2013 8:30 am

This Drexel game developer hired himself for his required co-op internship

Greg Lobanov, a senior digital media major, had already had a taste of the indie game development world with his company Dumb and Fat Games, and he wasn't thrilled with the idea of doing intern grunt work. So he hired himself.

Greg Lobanov hired himself for his Drexel co-op.

Updated 5/28/13 3:58 p.m. to clarify  and add that a Drexel representative said that Greg Lobanov is the first student in his major (digital media) to hire himself for his co-op.

Before graduation, every Drexel University student has to complete a six-month internship, or what the university calls a co-op. It’s meant to give students real-world job experience.

But Greg Lobanov, a rising senior digital media major, already had a taste of the indie game development world with his company Dumb and Fat Games, and he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of doing intern grunt work. So he hired himself.

Despite the rise of student entrepreneurship, Lobanov is the first student in his major do this, said Drexel Co-op Coordinator Michelle Mignot. Students majoring in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship have done this though, she said.

Since starting his co-op last month, he’s already launched Perfection, a puzzle game that IndieGames.com called “Fruit Ninja for smart people.” 

Get Perfection for $0.99 here.

Lobanov first had to convince Drexel to allow him to hire himself for his co-op. He had to write a “strong, passionate pitch,” prove his track record by highlighting the games he had already developed and show why this route would be a better experience than a traditional internship.

“It seems to me that anything I’d be doing as an intern anywhere couldn’t possibly be as interesting, challenging, educational, or as catered to my interests as making entire games on my own rule,” Lobanov wrote in an email to Technically Philly.

He also snagged Garth DeAngelis, lead producer at Baltimore-based Firaxis Games, to be his mentor for the program.

Lobanov’s been using the time to work on things like marketing his games and juggling multiple projects — things he said he didn’t have much time to focus on as a full-time student.

He’s also using the co-op for another purpose: it’s a way for him to test the waters and see if he should pursue his own game company after he graduates. If he can prove to himself that he can be self-sustaining, he’ll keep at it, he said.

For Lobanov, making games is the easy part. Now, he said, he needs to learn how to make them successful.

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technical.ly Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.

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  • http://twitter.com/themightychris Chris Alfano

    Congrats Greg!

    I went down the same path under the entrepreneurship school a couple years ago… after I got approved for my co-op and then got a bill from Drexel for the semester I realized I couldn’t stomach the idea of paying Drexel to work for myself, especially when I was reasonably confident I wouldn’t want to go back to being a full-time student if it went well, and ended up dropping out. I wish Drexel had offered an option to switch to a part-time coop + part-time school schedule instead of 6mo on + 6mo off that would allow you to keep doing your thing while maintaining full-time student status.

    Hope to hear about your experience after it’s over

    • Greg Lobanov

      Greg here. I’m lucky enough to have a scholarship that’s strong enough to make this co-op feel worthwhile. I’ve sort of come to take it for granted after three years, but it definitely made this choice much easier in retrospect. Tuition or no, I’m still convinced that the value of this co-op exceeds anything else I could have done (getting Technically Philly to say something about it is but one perk ;) ).

      And I’ll definitely be interested in reporting back when it’s over.

  • Al

    Well that’s cool, but it is a bit shortsighted. Part of the point of a co-op is to learn from other people, especially people who’ve gone ‘before you and done it before. I’ve never ‘worked’ for anyone else after graduation and started my first business in college but my internships taught me a great deal. You do get to pick your internship placement and most students should be finding one that has them doing real meaningful work where you are making a contribution instead of making coffee.

    I would have suggested to him to work at a successful game company so he learns how one works so he can then emulate that success in building his own.

    • Steve Pettit

      Currently no student in the program is employed by a ‘successful’ game company. It is incredibly hard to get a meaningful job at a game studio as an intern, especially from across the country. Its better this way than tracing things in photoshop or filling out xml documents like most students end up doing.

      • Al

        That seems like the challenge then… Become the first student to land a top notch internship, not just cop out and code in your apt. You learn more about running a business from being in a business environment. Even if you are a tech wizard and can make great games it doesn’t mean you can turn that into a self-sustaining business on your own. Take this time in college to learn from some other people. The last line of the article says it. Best of luck to him, it can be done, it’s just not the easy way. From my experience its hard to learn everything from your self. (ps at least he does have a mentor)

  • Baris

    Was an exchange student in Drexel CS 3-4 years ago and I am also interested gaming, so I met many people in Drexel doing great things in gaming but I have to admit I was so shocked when I see your games, although I am used to the impressive work created by drexel’s game developers.

    You are on the right track, and I wish you the fame and success you deserve.

    PS. Please make PC versions of your games too :)

  • http://cera.us cera

    Glad to see that Drexel is finally doing this.

  • KJ

    I did this in 2004.

    Best part was I was even allowed to use any hours from within the last 6 months. I finished before I was even done filing out the paperwork.