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HR careers take Illinois State alums to video game maker NetherRealm

Laura Dawson and Sarah Miller at work.

Laura Dawson and Sarah Miller at NetherRealm Studios.

Illinois State alums Sarah Miller ’05 and Laura Dawson ’13 are living in a fantasy world. The two now work at the Wrigleyville-based video game developer NetherRealm Studios.

NetherRealm Studios is known for its Mortal Kombat and Injustice series. The popular video games are available on several of the newest gaming platforms including the PS4, the Xbox One, mobile devices and more.

Neither Miller nor Dawson would describe themselves as hardcore gamers before entering the interactive entertainment industry, but their jobs have increased their interest in the gaming world.

“The variety of classes and experiences I had there has helped me excel in the game industry, even though it was new to me.” —Laura Dawson

Miller, a business administration major, jump-started her career when she interned at Spherion staffing agency during her time at Illinois State. Her internship taught her what she truly enjoyed and what she knew she did not want to pursue. She learned that the recruiting world wasn’t for her and that HR was the path she wanted to pursue. The knowledge she gained from her classes, specifically those within the Department of Management and Quantitative Methods with Distinguished Professor Victor Devinatz, played a huge role in shaping her into who she is today.

“Professor Devinatz was very passionate. He taught me how to be fair. What you do for one you do for all,” said Miller.

Dawson, a psychology major, got her start as an HR intern at a company called Panduit. She soon learned that she enjoyed working in recruiting. She values her experience at Illinois State for giving her a solid foundation.

“Illinois State provided me with the tools I needed to be successful in my career and I’ve grown a lot since I graduated,” said Dawson. “The variety of classes and experiences I had there has helped me excel in the game industry, even though it was new to me.”

Arcade at NetherRealm Studios.

Employee arcade at NetherRealm Studios.

Miller is now the HR manager at NetherRealm Studios, which is part of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. She deals with employee relations and operations for the roughly 200 employees of NetherRealm. This will be Miller’s 11th year with the company. Dawson is the senior recruiting coordinator within NetherRealm’s recruiting department, helping the company find and hire creative individuals such as character artists, animators, and software engineers. Dawson has been with NetherRealm for three years.

Miller and Dawson love the laid-back atmosphere at NetherRealm. Every day they work with passionate people who are dedicated to the art of interactive entertainment. Being able to see their names in the end credits of each game isn’t so bad either.

Both women are excited to see where NetherRealm will take its games in the future. Anything is possible in the fantasy world that is NetherRealm Studios.

Logan Sellers can be reached at lsselle@IllinoisState.edu.

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