How Being a Minecraft Community Manager Shaped My College Experience

Posted by Eric Aaberg February 1, 2021 in Personal Blog & Posts

Yes, you read that title correctly, and honestly, there are probably a lot of things you may not actually know about me (despite being heavily on social media). In this article, I’m going to go over how being a Minecraft Community Manager during high school helped shape my college experience and got me into the esports/video game industry.

It all started when I launched my first-ever public Minecraft Server (archived community video of it from Nov 28, 2015). To keep it short, that went well, and later I became a contracted part-time Community Manager for numerous Minecraft Servers. During my high school times, I would spend a majority of my free time on the popular sandbox game, Minecraft, and turned my passion for playing this game to “escape reality” into a way to learn something I actually wanted to do when I grew up. Not only was I living the 21st Century of wanting to be a full-time YouTuber (as every kid nowadays wants that), uploading videos to my YouTube Channel since ~2010, I was also working on the professional skills that would help me land my job as the Student Director of the UT Dallas Esports Program my freshman year entering college.

WHAT DID BEING A COMMUNITY MANAGER CONSIST OF?

A Community Manager consists typically someone in the executive role of a company/group/team who’s primarily responsible for the community of that company (this could be your customers for a retail company, players for a game-dev studio, and even students for a university…. see where this is going now?). In addition to community management, you also typically manage their social media channels. In addition to these responsibilities, I also wrote our official documentation (announcement posts, server rules & regulations, appeals/applications documents, etc.), managing our BuyCraft Store (webshop… yes we actually made some serious bank $$$ on Minecraft Servers selling incentives ingame), Staff Management (application interviews, hiring, firing, management, etc.), and also the person is given both the credit for the amazing updates (sorry developers) and the one face that players would complain to about bad updates (you’re welcome developers).

I absolutely loved it. For those who might have somehow played on the servers I managed, here are some of the names: Mineteria, Skytonia, TreasureWars, ShaddedGG, Mysteria Realms, Desteria. Anyways, back to being a Community Manager… it was great and something I always looked forward to doing after school. There were even times when I would have to pull out my laptop during lunch or during a class to launch a new update for the server (was a fun time also presenting about my job during our work program class).

HOW BEING A CM SHAPED MY COLLEGE LIFE

Remember those skills that I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that helped me leverage my job interview & application for the UT Dallas Esports Team’s first-and-only Student Assistant Coach position back in August 2018. Pretty cool that the esports program started the same semester I was starting at UTD (the odds honestly just lined up perfectly).

From being a Minecraft Community Manager, I learned tons of skills about Marketing, Social Media Management, Documentation Writing, Staff Management, & Community Management. It also gave me a great idea of what I enjoyed & had a passion for, which led me to become a Marketing Major. Back to the interview; I used all of these skills which I learned to leverage myself towards the program, I knew the following:

  • Always, always, always make yourself known before your interview for a company –> show your dedication. What did I do? I went to the live Q&A about esports held by the Athletics Director & Student Affairs Leadership at the SSA Gaming Wall. You can even see me in their video about launching UT Dallas Esports.
  • I knew they (Athletics & Esports) was going to need a social media presence: I showed-off my experience and previous work running social media channels. I also showed to Greg Adler (my soon-to-come employer at the time who’s the Head Esports Coach & Director) my work growing what was soon-to-rename as UTD’s Student Life Channel, Comet Life. I told them this exactly “If I am chosen for this position, I WILL make Esports known to every student on campus.” Something around the lines about that.
  • As a Community Manager, I know how much of importance of “good community” is to every company, so I mentioned how involved I was already in UT Dallas’ campus life and how I would carry the name of Esports with me throughout my time in college… bringing new followers & fans to our program every day.

 

Sounds professional for a ~13 day college freshman, right? Well, serving a high leadership role in high school helped me shape that and it paid off more than I thought it ever could have.

A good Community Manager not only is a Cheerleader/Hype-Man for their company & not only reps their brand/product, they embrace it and take it to a whole new level. So to translate that for UTD, I proudly rep my Comet Pride to a new level – enjoy this cute photo of myself and Temoc, the Mascot of UT Dallas, at one of the home athletics games in January 2020.

SHAPING MY SCHOOL SPIRIT & INVOLVEMENT AT UTD

Not only did being a Community Manager help me land my gig with UT Dallas Esports, but it also led to me becoming super involved in the student life at UT Dallas and known as “Mr. UTD” / having the most UTD Comet school spirit anyone has seen. How? Well, as a Community Manager I learned that to be able to understand your community/players, you have to become one of them, and you have to make yourself familiar with the community-based too. Entering UT Dallas as a freshman, I made myself known across campus through social media, university marketing, and joining literally ~20 student groups on campus. In addition, I know how much Social Media Managers love engagement on social media, so I would tag @ut_dallas basically in the 20-30 stories/day during our Weeks of Welcome (a welcoming tradition at UTD for the beginning of the semester), and post tons on my Instagram account.

I posted so much (still to this day) that students would come up to me and say “Omg you’re that guy from Instagram!!” or “Aren’t you erictigerawr?”. I literally had an encounter of someone screaming my username handle at me in the Student Union and saying they were trying to find me for weeks since the semester started. Mission accomplished. These were signs that I was not only being a successful Community Manager, but I was getting engaged in my college’s student life and I was having an absolute blast doing so.

In addition to this, I know how much companies love how employees “rep their brand” and honestly saying I did that for UTD is an understatement. You’ll literally find me around campus wearing orange/green literally any day (and most university events, in the Esports Room, and repping Comet Pride on my social media channels). I am also a Cheerleader (if you didn’t know, now you do), and cheer on the traditional sport teams and Comets under our Athletics Department. In addition, I’m a Social Media Coordinator & Photographer for tons of departments. Fun Fact: I’ve taken the most photos on campus as a student and have posted the most content at/about UT Dallas as a Comet as well, seriously. 

 

TO CONCLUDE: CHASE YOUR DREAMS

If there’s something that you should take from this read, it’s to chase your dreams. My parents told me back in freshman year in high school to stop playing as many video games, and my communications magnet teacher even told me that I would “never make money from playing video games.” Well, look where I am now. I in fact do get the amazing opportunity to (basically) play video games for a living helping build & grow UT Dallas Esports in a staff position and am now working to work full-time in esports once I graduate college. I chased my dreams, and you should too. Life is too short to live a life you don’t want to live, so remember that you’re the main character and the best day to start working towards your dreams was yesterday.