Justin Surber, MBA ‘18 works as a live operations manager for 2K Games. Before attending the University of Oregon, Surber received his law degree from Willamette University College of Law. He wanted to change career paths because of his passion for eSports and found his home with the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. During his time at Oregon, he interned at 206Agency.
Why did you choose the University of Oregon for your MBA?
First and foremost, it was home to the best sports business program in the country, and I knew I was making a career shift. But I'm also a proud Oregonian, and the fact that it was basically in my backyard didn't hurt at all.
What did you enjoy most about going through the program?
My classmates—every one of them had a unique background and different goals for the program, and I'm grateful that I got to know and work with so many of them in my time at UO. Many I now consider among my closest friends, and I hope that remains the case for years to come.
Can you tell us about your current role at 2K Games?
As a live operations manager for 2K Games, my primary focus is on creating positive and lasting experiences for people who play our games. I work with the developer studios we partner with to help them create the content that keeps players coming back day after day, week after week. This can mean something as simple as a holiday-themed event or as complex as an entirely new game mode. I also work to help create and flesh out post-purchase monetization systems that provide added content and value for customers.
How did the program prepare you for your role at 2K?
My role requires a lot of outside-the-box thinking and associating things that normally might not go together. I think the Oregon MBA did a good job of encouraging and training that kind of thinking— particularly in the sports marketing courses in which there were no bad ideas and finding creative solutions was often our primary goal.
Can you tell us how you ended up at 2K Games?
After I graduated, I was fortunate enough to work with a great tech startup in Portland for a period of time before the opportunity with 2K came about from a message to one of my mentors from the the Oregon MBA program (and now my boss). I learned that there are excellent opportunities in a lot of fields with companies that you might otherwise never consider, so be open to new experiences and opportunities that might not necessarily be your “dream job” right out of the gate.
What advice would you give someone who is currently in the program? A prospective student?
Find those alumni and industry professionals you have a connection with and keep those relationships alive. Send cold emails to them. Ask how they're doing and what they're working on. Ask what you need to be learning in your own time to be as competitive as possible when an opening comes. And if you happen to get the offer but it means moving to a new city in three weeks, just say yes, and figure out the details later.