Esports from High School to College - NASEF Intern Shares His Experience

Sep 05, 2023

Growing up, I loved any sort of competition and it was always my goal to win at any given opportunity. My first love was football, more specifically, the NFL. I remember Autumn starting to roll in and feeling the dread that came with the inevitable start of school, but also the excitement of a new season where hopefully my New York Jets could take home a win against the Patriots. My love for football and the Jets were unparalleled until I watched my first CS:GO tournament in seventh grade. I had received a gaming computer for Christmas and I had become obsessed with Counter-Strike. I specifically remember not watching the Super Bowl that year, opting instead to run around in deathmatch, desperately trying to improve.

One day I opened CS:GO and was greeted by a main menu that looked different than normal. Intrigued by whatever this new section of the menu was, I clicked on it and was loaded into the live feed of the current match. The concept of esports was foreign to me then, as it was to all of us at one point, but I was mesmerized by how amazing the players were. From that point on I was hooked.  My love for esports and CS:GO specifically changed my life drastically and has gotten me to where I am today. 

Going to college had always been a certainty for me until my senior year of high school. COVID-19 risks with members of my family meant that I had to be among the students who did not return to school for the 2020-2021 school year and this threw a lot of my plans out of the window. I was in a spiral that year, a spiral that I did not come out of until August of 2021. Until then I had been considering every option other than college, feeling lost and disenfranchised at the thought of higher education. Thankfully, my Mom pushed me to reconsider and I was able to enroll at a school with only days left before the start of the fall semester.

Now I am a full-time student at Harrisburg University, earning my Bachelors of Science in Esports Production and Management. I personally prefer college far more than high school. I have the freedom to choose what I learn and I am in classes with people who actually want to be there. Through the university I have had so many amazing experiences and opportunities, one of which was becoming a marketing intern for NASEF. Through this internship I have learned a lot about the esports industry and I think it is and will be a very important part of my education. I have previously worked on tournaments and have been part of ‘talent’ crews, but this was something completely new to me. 

As a marketing intern for NASEF I have three main duties. The first (and my favorite) is video editing. I really enjoy video editing for NASEF because it allows me to experiment, get feedback, learn, and improve in a positive environment. The second duty is data collection and management. This involves doing research and finding pertinent information, which I then put in one place, usually in the form of a spreadsheet. My favorite of these was a spreadsheet of colleges with esports teams and/or esports degrees, which will be published soon. The third and final main duty I have is writing things for NASEF. I really enjoy writing and I like to think I’m good at it, so these writing tasks are fun and keep me in good form for school!

When I was in high school, my school had just started an esports club when COVID-19 hit the country and shut everything down. I don’t think I would have been very interested at the time anyway,  because my game of choice was not one of the games my school fielded a team for. If your school does have an esports team for a game that you like, I cannot recommend joining it enough, especially if it is a NASEF club. Even if you are not particularly interested in competing, you will have an amazing experience and not being more involved with my school's team is one of my biggest regrets from high school.

I would advise any student who is looking into going into esports to start as early as possible racking up experience because you can have a lot of fun, learn new things, meet new people, and better yourself in ways you had never even thought of. Working for NASEF has done all of these things for me. I’ve had fun working on esports related projects and learned several important skills to succeed in the esports field. I have met many amazing and hard-working people at NASEF, with whom it has been a privilege to work. Working for a non-profit like NASEF is truly a rewarding experience and inspires me to work harder to help others, which is something that I am happy to do. 

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Contributed by Ayrton Hall.

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