Hello! My name is Mosab Barnawi. I am a Computer Science student and I recently came back from a fantastic year abroad working in Malta.
My decision to undertake an internship abroad was driven by my interest in the games development industry. While in Uni, I had started developing some games ideas and applications. A work placement seemed a logical next step to put myself to the test, improve my skills and discover my strengths and weaknesses. Above all, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to find out if I really wanted to pursue games development as a career. If I did not enjoy it in a work setting, I would have treasured the experience and explored other pathways. I was also convinced that gaining some practical experience before graduation would set me apart from other students. I was keen to go abroad to meet new people and organisations, and be exposed to a different way of working. In a nutshell, I was sure a work placement would have been an incredible asset to me, both on a personal and professional level.
During my second year, I invested a lot of time learning everything that I could digest on games development – from online courses to small personal projects. I even participated in an International Week for Games Development that was held here at Cardiff Met, and I was lucky enough to work with a great team. I also spoke with some of my lecturers to find out more about possible career paths and internships.
With the help of the Erasmus team at Cardiff Met, I secured funding from the Erasmus scheme. Soon afterwards, I packed my bags and travelled to Malta for the beginning of my adventure!
Once in Malta, I initially spent a few weeks working in IT support at a local company. I then searched for and found an amazing gaming studio, where I spent the rest of my internship. I do not think I could have found a better place to work during my time in Malta!
The company is called Flying Squirrel Interactive Games Studio and it focuses primarily on mobile games. Many of their games are available on the Apple and Android stores. They are also working on other projects that I cannot disclose, but are very exciting. I loved being a part of it while still at University!
The studio offered me a fantastic opportunity to learn, laugh and enjoy my job on a day-to-day basis. It was a small team of six people: three developers including myself, a Quality Assurance expert (or Mr Find Bugs, as we called him!) and two artists. Every day would start with a ‘stand up’ meeting to discuss progress from the previous day, the current day’s agenda, and divide tasks. The Director would also share some updates on how published games had been received, and what projects we would work on next.
It was a good balance between being professional and laid back. The environment was open and collaborative. We would always communicate our work priorities and help each other, and there were many brainstorming sessions and a constant feedback loop.
I was mainly working on a game project called ‘Red Paper Clip’. My main duties were to develop and debug the game, and keep the team informed of my progress at all stages. I enjoyed every second of it – from learning new techniques and new tools, to being challenged with new concepts and obstacles to overcome. I would sometimes spend a few hours working from home because I enjoyed it so much. Nothing beats the feeling of finding a bug and fixing it, or finding a good solution to implement that ends up improving the game experience. I was fortunate to work on this project from the initial idea phase, through to development and its different cycles, up to release. It was an exciting and positive challenge, and gave me a good idea of how a real world project unfolds from start to end.
The team was brilliant, and I am very positive everyone gelled with everyone else. We would do lots of activities together as a team, like ping-pong, pizza week, and play videogames. I also participated in a Game Jam with some of my colleagues, which is something I had always wanted to do!
It was not all work though. I was fortunate enough to meet many amazing people during my time in Malta. I explored the island and found out a little about its history from the locals, and that many famous movies were shot there. The architecture was pleasant to look at as you travelled around. Despite the strong winds, Malta is a great destination to visit, especially during the summer. I played basketball on weekends and even participated in a 3×3 tournament at Marsa Basketball court, which got me back into competitive sports. I started taking Japanese classes and travelled to Italy, my first ever leisure holiday.
My work placement abroad was such an incredible experience and I would definitely recommend it to other people. I would especially suggest trying out something you truly enjoy. You will get a first-hand experience and will realise if it is something you see yourself doing as a career. If not, than it will set you apart from most students when you graduate! Take the chance to meet as many people as you can and grow your network – it might benefit you in the future. You may even get a job offer, depending on your work ethic and your ability to learn, listen, and communicate. Finding the right team is also a big factor, so that is a skill that you can pick up earlier if you do an internship.
I definitely gained a lot of knowledge from working with experienced professionals. I can truly say I have learnt a little bit from every team member while I was at Flying Squirrel. It was an exceptional opportunity to see how a studio works, learn to work collaboratively, and understand how each role contributes to the final project.