This year, TSM and Lenovo Legion developed an internship program to highlight the numerous career paths within esports. As it continues to rapidly evolve, becoming more prominent among young adults, electronic sports present brand new career paths. TSM x Lenovo Legion presents young women a platform with educational resources about the industry, preparing them with practical skills that will translate to any career in any field.
To learn more about their journey, Inven Global’s Kelsey Remige spoke to TSM’s interns Vivian Lam and Clara Chu to understand how this program helps to pave the way for women in the esports industry.
What was your background in gaming prior to this internship?
Vi: Well, in middle school and high school, I clocked in probably over a thousand hours of League of Legends. I’d also attended LCS a couple times with friends, and to be able to translate that passion and knowledge into my future career.
In my first year at the University of California, Irvine, I joined UCI’s Association of Gamers, where I dabbled in esports journalism and did some graphic design work for our collegiate teams. I would always try to attend UCI’s Esports conferences, or events put on by Esports organizations at university’s venues. FlyQuest actually ended up doing an Esports workshop that I was able to attend, and while I was there, I ended up meeting the marketing manager for iBuyPower.
Marketing really interested me and the marketing manager liked my drive and passion that I showed and soon after I was able to interview for their digital marketing internship. I thankfully got the position and was able to obtain a lot more confidence and tangible marketing skills while I was there.After that internship was finished, TSM ended up having a career panel at UCI as well, which is where I met Allie Hahe, TSM’s Director of Partnerships Management.
Clara: Before applying to TSM, I used to work for the Esports student union at USC. My main duties were to lead teams while we worked events held by and at USC and to continually develop our esports projects. During my time at USC, I gained so much knowledge into how the Esports industry works. Other than that, I’m just a huge game nerd.
Esports is a peculiar industry that doesn’t function like traditional careers; what attracted you to this Esports internship?
Vi: After attending LCS a couple times with friends, I was drawn to how put together TSM was as an organization and how they presented themself as a brand. I also thought that, even though I might not stay in esports for the rest of my life, the skills I learn from this industry can definitely be carried over into different positions.
Clara: If you want to be a part of the esports industry, you really have to love gaming and the sport itself. I’m in esports because I really love gaming, the community it fosters, and I love the sport; It’s all very exciting. I would definitely say that it’s my passion.
"In this industry, you really have to be proactive and look for your own experiences to get your foot in the door."
Female progression in Esports has been a commonly discussed topic. How do you think women are impacting the industry?
Vi: I think in the past, I focused on the fact that there weren’t any females competing in leagues like LCS or for other major competitive video games. Even though there have been examples of all-female teams in competitive play since then, I feel like they haven’t really achieved the progressive goals that we imagine. What I have come to realize, though, is how many women work behind-the-scenes. These women who work on the back-end are some of the most driving forces for organizations, and they make a world of a difference in progressing the companies they represent.
Clara: It’s very obvious that esports is a male-dominanted industry. Some things have changed over time, like women who are pursuing or have already become professional players, but most women in esports are usually behind the scenes. We are the backbone to most events, campaigns, sponsorship deals, social media managing and much more.
Have either of you faced any obstacles while in Esports?
Vi: When I would have discussions with people in esports about League, I felt like many of them didn’t place much value into what I was saying. Some people would even ask my rank, which was Platinum at one point, and would tell me that it’s not high enough to know what I’m talking about. I ended up grinding my account to Diamond, and even then I was still questioned by some peers. What was even more frustrating was the fact that sometimes, my ideas would be written off or ignored, but when a male colleague brought the same idea up, it was given attention. Even with all of this, I just stayed headstrong and kept confident in my ideas.
Clara: The biggest obstacle I have faced is that the esports industry is very new. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many resources for us to look at so we can find jobs, gain experience and so forth. In this industry, you really have to be proactive and look for your own experiences to get your foot in the door.
There have been many female trailblazers in Esports; are there any that you specifically look up to, or aspire to be like?
Vi: The main two that come to mind are Allie Hahe, TSM’s Director of Partnerships Management, and Leena Xu, the President of TSM. Allie was the first person I met at TSM, and I really admire how she runs and organizes career panels for them. When getting to know her, I also learned how hard she grinded the ladder back in the early days of esports, when it was much harder as a female to get a position in this industry. She worked a lot of jobs with no pay before getting her foot in the door, just like I had to do, so I feel like we can relate on that level.
TSM set up a dinner with Leena and the interns, where we could talk to her 1 on 1 and get her insight on topics. Having that private time to talk to her showed me just how well spoken and intelligent that she is. She is incredibly confident in everything that she says, and has such a polished finish on all of her actions, and I really aspire to hold myself in that light.
Clara: Leena Xu, the President of TSM is definitely one of the first people that comes to mind, but I really look up to my internship mentor Allie Hahe. Allie is so amazing and inspiring, and she sets an example for me to follow and it motivates me to be able to make it in esports.
In what way did TSM impact your career?
Vi: TSM really taught me a lot of skills that I wouldn’t have been able to learn in the classroom. Over time I was really able to polish skills that I wasn’t previously assured in, and now my overall confidence is super high.
Clara: Luke Zelon, TSM’s Director of Partnerships, and Allie Hahe, TSM’s Director of Partnerships Management taught me so many practical skills. I definitely can say that the skills I learned from them will follow me in my career even if I am not in esports. Other than that, working at TSM allowed me to learn the ins and outs of the industry and really solidified my passion to work in this field.
Tell us your favorite memory while working at TSM.
Vi: In the TSM office, there is a really big ping pong culture. It would be so thrilling to see people in the office being competitive outside of video games, and it made for some super fun battles. I also participated in TSM in-houses, where we would play League of Legends games against other coworkers. It would be so fun because even though we were playing the roles we were good at, we would sometimes go troll team comps and play just to enjoy the game and mess around.
Clara: My favorite memory would 100% be the in-house League of Legends tournaments that we did. I was so bad, but I had fun playing games with my coworkers and just being nerdy. Everyone at TSM is so chill and fun!
What is one thing that you’ll bring into your future jobs that you learned at TSM?
Vi: TSM really taught me how to properly talk to people, in and out of the industry, and my confidence has definitely grown in that sense. I also learned how to research people with a purpose, which will definitely be useful in my future positions.
Clara: In my future positions, I will definitely bring all the practical sales and partnership experience I’ve learned, but I’ll also be bringing the confidence of working in a professional environment with me as well.
Is there anything you would say to the future women who are looking to get a start in the Esports industry?
Vi: If I could pass along any advice, it would be to remember to not limit yourself. There are a lot of different aspects of this industry to get involved in. I also would tell them to not just play the games, but to try and go out and develop marketable skills that really help when applying for positions.
Clara: My best advice is to be proactive. To me, that is the most important thing. You should start running your own events, start networking even if you don’t know anyone, and work as hard as you can. Nothing beats experience in esports; you really have to know what you are talking about. Other than that, there is an organization called Women of Esports that I would recommend checking out. They have mentorship programs, job recommendations and advice that can really help if you want to get started in this industry.