Cliff LimGood lord, there’s just 1.5 months left for us 12Ds before we graduate.

The only thing on my mind right now is career. I’m not yet at the point where I’m crying about how everyone will soon disperse – that comes much later in my emotionally-backlogged life.

I’m still on the lookout for gaming gigs. I mustered the courage (or stupidity) to shun all consulting-related recruitment, and now I’m 100% invested in the tech and media space, for better or for worse.

Things have been progressing slowly. I’ve networked (or interviewed – sometimes I don’t know which is which in this sector) with perhaps 20+ industry veterans since summer. Producers, Managing Directors, Creative Directors, VPs, HR, COOs, Startup Founders, you name it. Anyone I could reach through INSEAD’s or my personal networks. I was probably outside campus more than inside this P4… well, if you include the enormous downtime I needed in between – groveling for people’s time can be exhausting.

The response rate so far has been 80%, but the majority of these lead to “dead ends”. I’m not complaining though, each conversation has still proven valuable. I’m not necessarily angling for positions when I first ask to chat. I usually just want to understand the roles, responsibilities and operational footprint these companies have in Singapore and the rest of the world. If the conversation goes well, I pitch projects they can do with current INSEAD MBAs, inquire about opportunities, or check if they have other folks I can chat with.

I’m not a natural networker, so the experience has been a struggle. But I learn more about the industry each day, and have more perspective to assess if this is the right place for me.

Fortunately, it still is.

I conclude with two bits of advice for folks hoping to break into niche areas without prior experience. By no means guaranteed, but just personal epiphanies:

1)       Take an exploratory approach. Ask people to chat because you want to learn more about careers in the sector, not because of a specific agenda (such as getting a certain position). The statistical odds of talking to someone who has exactly what you’re looking and thinks you’re the perfect fit are probably close to nil. Worse, when you say it outright it anchors the entire conversation and shuts off further possibilities. It’s true that no networking session is really ever an “informational interview”. But it doesn’t stop you from being open and curious.

2)       Share your Motivations and Value, but Be Humble. Half of the folks I’ve talked to have had terrible experiences with MBAs. The other half doesn’t understand what the hell I’m doing or where I fit. Some have lamented about misaligned expectations, fixation on titles and compensation, and the unwillingness of MBAs to work “in the trenches”. And these filters – true or unwarranted – can really hurt your ability to connect. So be ready to articulate why you want to get in (hopefully with a compelling narrative), and what value you can bring to the sector. At the same time, be aware of the realities of the industry and your personal constraints. God-willing, embrace them. Keep your language positive, open and enthusiastic.

It remains to be seen whether I will land a gig that – as Filipinos say – is “swak na swak” [a perfect fit]. Hopefully, daily offerings to the gaming gods will increase my chances.