TEA Connect Blog

16 May 2017

Anisha Deshmane of Schell Attractions: a TEA NextGen success story

Anisha Deshmane graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2013 with a Masters in Entertainment Technology, and now works as a game designer with Schell Attractions, in PIttsburgh PA.

This story is part of the "Where are they now?" series profiling young professionals whose careers were helped by joining and becoming active within the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) community as a NextGen member. The TEA NextGen initiative helps students and recent graduates navigate the industry.

In Anisha's own words:

I arrived here after exploring a lot of topics. What began as architectural design at MIT grew into computer graphics, media studies, and tangible interactivity, then eventually game design at Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center (ETC).

At ETC, I learned that “themed entertainment” is an industry full of people melding engineering and storytelling in innovative ways.  With so many topics to explore, I started to wonder, "Where could I fit?" But one thing was certain: I knew this was where I wanted to be. 

I soon discovered that my background simply didn’t match typical themed entertainment job descriptions - I was passionate about technology and interactivity, but too much of a generalist to fit any one role. That made getting experience feel out of reach, so I actively sought opportunities to build a portfolio of interactive projects as a student at the ETC.

I found that the TEA was the resource for the industry, so I became a TEA NextGen member to learn more and stay connected. TEA has a good history with ETC, and there were on-campus events where I learned about location-based entertainment. I began actively networking with industry veterans to learn about their paths - all of which were just as meandering as my own had been so far. This gave me confidence that I could find my way in, too. Around the same time, I discovered Schell Games and was delighted to find they shared a passion for innovative guest experiences. Now, I’m a game designer specializing in designing interactive gameplay for museum and theme park experiences. Voila - I found my secret entrance!

The TEA continues to help me stay in the loop. My personal favorite event is the TEA Summit, where I’ve met people, learned from their case studies, and most importantly, made amazing friends! These are the people I turn to when I want to discuss trends from VR and AR to escape rooms, get the latest news, and explore new experiences. 

The other contributors to this series have shared so much great advice already, so I’ll add to their suggestions with specifics from my own experience. Maybe you can build your own secret entrance, too.

Look locally

It can be challenging to stay involved outside the epicenters of our industry, and I live in Pittsburgh. So, I spend a lot of time with the TEA’s newsletters, webinars, and events to help me stay up to date. Early on I couldn’t afford to travel much, so instead, I looked for the industry near me. The TEA Member Directory was really helpful, and I’ve learned a lot from TEA members in my neck of the woods! [TEA Eastern North America Division] Take a look at what’s happening right in your backyard and reach out. You will likely be surprised how many industry people you find working in your area, if you look for them.

Think outside the theme park

All over the country, and all around the world, a wide range of venues and visitor experiences are pushing our industry forward. This includes theme parks of course, but also museums, science centers, escape rooms, restaurants, theatrical shows, and more. My own career started on projects at children’s museums, schools, and zoos, all of which uniquely contributed to my design methodologies, and which are applicable to theme park projects as well. There’s a lot to learn from a variety of venues and audiences, and you’ll gain great experience working with them!

The "T" approach

Imagine your skillset as a “T.” The horizontal line represents breadth of knowledge, which is great for collaborating across many disciplines. The vertical line represents deep understanding of a specific discipline, which makes you a vital asset to a team. By balancing my T, I could collaborate with architects, engineers, writers, and fabricators and use my interaction expertise to guide the design of a variety of guest experiences. If you nurture both breadth and depth, you’ll be ready to take on new challenges while blending your background with others on a wide range of projects.

Stay curious.

Keep asking questions and learning more. It’s what will keep our industry moving forward (and your career). Reaching out and starting conversations are great ways to meet people and learn more about this rapidly changing industry. There’s always more to discover - it’s impossible to stop learning if you keep asking questions.

 

More "Where are they now?" profiles:

Posted by Judy Rubin

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