Laura Antonescu, B.Sc. 2013
“I’m a big gaming fan so working at EA [Electronic Arts] was always a career dream of mine,” says class of 2013 graduate Laura Antonescu. “But when I eventually applied through their website, I honestly didn’t expect to get in. I just thought I had nothing to lose and the worst case scenario was they’d say no.”
But after making it through the phone screening stage and being called in for a three-hour-plus interview with six different EA staffers, she made the cut. The secret formula? “One of the big things they’re looking for is personality; they really want to be sure you’re going to fit in and be good to work with.”
It’s a hiring strategy Antonescu, a senior technical analyst at the company, now deploys herself. Appointed to a job that didn’t previously exist – “It was a brand new role so I had some freedom to write my own job description” – she’s since interviewed and appointed the rest of the team she works with on finding improvements to the QA process.
The job, she says, combines the roles of business analyst and software developer. And since starting in 2014, she’s been working on the wildly popular FIFA soccer game series. Updated annually, it presents new project challenges every time.
“The FIFA game has established parameters but there’s always a big push to innovate and that can create tension,” she says, noting the ever-hectic rush as deadline day approaches. Not that she’d have it any other way. “Everyone is so passionate about being here. It never really feels like you’re at work.”
Looking back, Antonescu believes SFU prepared her well. Favourite classes included Software Engineering and User Interface Design, with the latter showing her “how to make things user-friendly, which has been really valuable in my job.”
Co-ops and internships at the Government of Canada and Research in Motion were also invaluable. “I was at RIM for a year. My coding really improved but I also gained a much deeper understanding of software development. I work with lots of software engineers now so that experience really helped.”
She’s also made great headway in a vocation often seen as male-dominated. An award from the Canadian Federation of University Women aimed at encouraging young women into gaming careers was welcome, she says, but she also feels gender issues have never held her back.
“As a young women, you have to change your way of thinking. If you’re in high school and love problem solving and looking for logical solutions, there’s no reason not to pursue a career like this. Start small, write programs and watch the outcome. It’s fantastic when you see that first program work,” she says.
And how does she see her own career unfolding in the years ahead? “I’ve always wanted to do more team leading and project management. I could certainly see myself returning to school one day to take an MBA.”