Interview

How to get into Esports: An Interview with Cat Tompkins

Cat Tompkins is the Program Manager for Esports and Education at MSI. While in college, she discovered an unexpected intersection between her chosen career path and the fledgling world of esports. Now, she helps guide other students toward their esports industry dreams.

NGame: How did you get involved in esports?

Cat Tompkins: Around 2013, the esports club at my campus, Cal State Long Beach Esports Association, was in its first year. I started out as a general member. I’ve always been into video games since my childhood. So, when I saw the esports club on campus, I wanted to join. It was a fun first year. 

In the Spring of 2014, I was in my second year of undergrad. I was the social media editor for our school newspaper, and I was assigned to cover a yearly event on campus called Beachcon. It was the biggest gaming event on campus at that time. What really got me into it was the environment being at that event. I was like, “Wow, I really want to do something with the community.” The people I got to interview that day were all really inspiring. [I saw] the teamwork they used to create such a big community event like that. This was during 2014 — a time when esports was still grassroots.

I became Vice President of the club that year and eventually became President in 2015, holding that position until 2017. I also changed my major from a reporting/journalism-focused major to public relations and marketing. 

Even though I was very focused on the club, I didn’t think that I would pursue esports as a career. But, that opportunity came about two months after I graduated, when I joined iBUYPOWER as their Public Relations lead. My first project was the grand opening launch event of the UCI Esports Arena.

NGame: What are your responsibilities in your current position?

Cat Tompkins: I’m the Program Manager for Esports and Education at MSI. I lead partnerships, sponsorships, program development, and business development for collegiate and K-12 esports, and also education in general for MSI.

From handling event requests, to providing advice on esports programs or developing programs, I try my best to make sure that every program across collegiate and K-12 have some level of support from MSI. 

I am very focused on professional development and implementing that within the school curriculum or within MSI Student initiatives. For example, hosting panels or seminars to show what MSI and the tech industry do.

I also manage channel marketing for our major resellers to make sure that our branding is on point with regards to gaming and esports.

NGame: What advice would you give someone looking to get started in esports?

Cat Tompkins: 

  1. Be involved with clubs and take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you in the academic space. Chances are, you might also connect with other people that share similar career interests.

Being a part of my campus organization was an amazing time, but I also learned a sense of responsibility as an active leader of the club. 

  1. Don’t be a stranger. Be sure to network within the space, whether it’s during collegiate esports events, or Discord channels, etc.
  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for career-related advice from others. There are a lot of talented individuals in the space that can provide some [specialized] advice. But also, be mindful of their time and means of preferred communication!
  1. Focus on getting internship roles within the career path that you choose, especially if you want to pursue marketing, PR, or business-related roles. But, the one thing that I emphasize is that those internships do not have to be within the esports industry. Take an internship related to your field of expertise, maintain some level of involvement within your local gaming community, and take that experience to gaming/esports companies later down the line. These experiences can carry you throughout your entire career.       

Written by HB Duran | image credit: MSI.com

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