What It Takes to Work at Zynga: Hiring Secrets of the Social Gaming Giant

Zynga may not be a household name, but its games are known to millions of Facebookers and other people around the world. Starting out in 2007 with a goal of making simple, accessible social games, Zynga went on to create and distribute such memorable titles as Mafia Wars, Cafe World, Words with Friends, and the popular "Ville" series, which includes FarmVille, FrontierVille, CityVille and PetVille. The company's efforts have paid dividends, with Forbes Magazine online reporting that Zynga was valued at $11.15 billion in March 2011.

Along with a list of jobs for established professionals, Zynga offers a university partner program that allows recent graduates to get their foot in the door of the competitive world of game industry jobs. Here are a few of the staff positions available at this growing company for professionals with various backgrounds and various levels of education:

Software Engineer

Software engineers at Zynga do more than just write code for games. The world of social gaming requires detailed infrastructure elements in order to run smoothly, and Zynga is looking for software engineering professionals who can help design, deploy and maintain these features.

Zynga requires prospective software engineers to have earned a formal degree in computer science or a related discipline, at the bachelor's, master's or doctoral level. Positions with higher levels of responsibility or complexity typically require higher levels of education from their applicants. Extensive programming experience is another requirement for these positions, particularly in object-oriented programming languages. Specifically, Zynga wants programmers who are proficient in C/C++, Java, Python, Javascript/AJAX and mobile software development.

Systems Administrator

The backstage data network of a company like Zynga is of vital importance to day-to-day operations, and talented systems administration professionals can make a world of difference in this area. Zynga encourages candidates for these positions to have a B.S. in computer science or management information systems, along with at least five years of systems administration experience.

Zynga uses Linux computing environments for much of its company infrastructure, so candidates with extensive exposure to Linux/Unix will have an advantage. What's more, the Web environment at Zynga contains a very high number of nodes and requires an administrator with experience handling multi-gigabit traffic across a similarly vast network. Familiarity with administration of large-scale server farms is also required.

Game Designer

Zynga's main business is games, and designers at Zynga are responsible for creating or adapting high-quality gaming features that will be used in the company's production titles. Zynga requires its game designers to be able to model and fine-tune system concepts using Microsoft Excel, and to have expert-level proficiency with the applied mathematics of game environment design.

Game designers at Zynga are also expected to have some type of management experience, and to have shipped two or more games to market over the course of their careers.

Data Analyst

In order to continuously offer the best and most enjoyable game play experiences they can, game companies need employees with the right computer training to analyze usage data and track user feedback. Zynga is looking for data analysis professionals who have extensive skill writing SQL expressions that query large and complex sets of data.

These positions at Zynga also require at least a bachelor's degree in mathematics, economics, engineering or a related technical field. Applicants with advanced degrees are typically looked at more closely than those who stopped their education at a B.S. or B.A.

Naturally, a working knowledge of statistical modeling and good working skill with SAS or other statistics software are also required. Most data analyst positions at Zynga require several years of experience performing statistical research and analysis for a company in an internet-based or technological industry.

New Grad Product Manager

This position requires candidates to be students or recent graduates of computer training schools. Zynga is invested in staying close to the pulse of the gaming community, and hiring young, passionate, enthusiastic people can help a company do just that. Applicants for this position should have an aptitude for strategic analysis and at least some exposure to product or project management roles.

Product managers work with teams and draft documents like whitepapers and product spec sheets, so candidates for product manager positions are required to have strong communication skills in both written and spoken language. Also, since there is a certain focus on the market in these positions, some schooling in business or marketing can be a big plus.

These are only a few of the jobs available at Zynga for professionals with the right sort of computer training. Schools from coast to coast are ready to help prepare dedicated candidates for these and other rewarding positions in the game industry, and now is as good a time as any to join the ranks of committed professionals who are putting their computer training to use and doing work they love.

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