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Electronic Arts developer speaks with students on careers in technology

BY MORGAN OLSEN | FEBRUARY 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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When Steve Seabolt graduated from the University of Iowa in 1974, the digital entertainment industry didn’t exist. Today, it’s his job.

Seabolt is the vice president for global brand development for Electronic Arts Inc., an international video game producer and distributor.

He spoke to around 50 UI students at the Tippie College of Business on Wednesday, sharing tips on how they can market themselves and get the most of their degree — while also talking technology and Madden NFL.

“It’s a hands-on job, and that’s what’s really fun about it,” he said. “I have the opportunity to learn whatever I want every day — I can sit down with animation producers and learn about what they do.”

Seabolt noted the change the entertainment industry is going through and talked about his company’s transformation into online and mobile media.

“Learn to adapt and expect the unexpected, and you’ll never be surprised,” he said. “Be nimble on your feet, and expect things to be changing.”

He told students he struggled academically in high school but advanced at the UI.

“Iowa is the place I learned to love learning,” he said. “I had such a passion for business when I left here.”

Students asked questions about everything from brand development to the “Madden curse,” a superstition that players who grace the cover of Madden NFL often fall victim to injury or poor performances.

While Seabolt said he doesn’t believe in the curse, he did give students an inside look at the growing industry of video games.

“Video games are so prevalent in our culture, so it was interesting to see behind the scenes of the business,” said UI senior Alyssa Dahmer, who said she has considered a career in digital entertainment.

Seabolt has worked for Electronic Arts since 2001. He said that as soon as he walked into the offices in Redwood Shores, Calif., he knew he wanted to work there.

Besides technology, he also gave students a lesson on business morals, with his collective advice on karma and egos.

“He talked about things that we don’t hear in class, like how to be a team player and to always treat people with respect,” said UI senior Austin Strajack, whose favorite Electronic Arts game is NHL 2010. “It’s not always the cutthroat industry that you think it might be.”

After Seabolt’s self-described “unsolicited advice over pizza,” he spoke with students about how to break into the entertainment industry and internship opportunities at Electronic Arts.

“Focus on what you’re passionate about,” he said. “If you can articulate exactly what you want and get excited about it, people can see that excitement oozing out of your pores.”

He also acknowledged that the career market may be harder to break into in the current economy.
“You have to assume it’s going to be more competitive,” he said. “Just work harder and remember that determination always wins out.”

Many of the students went to hear him before attending the internship and career fair later in the day.

“A lot of companies are going digital,” said Dahmer. “Everyone wants a piece of this kind of business — I want that; I want a job description that is always changing.”


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