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Karl Schmidt – Meet the Mentor

I’m a Fractional CTO, formerly a game programmer, game studio co-founder, indie game developer, and head of engineering in fintech. I’ve been in software professionally for over 17 years and shipped projects on 13+ platforms. I've learned a lot (still learning!) and have a lot to share.
Karl Schmidt

CTO, Karl Schmidt: Fractional CTO

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

I’ve always benefited from and appreciated being mentored throughout my career. In my role as a leader and manager, and even for folks I’ve only ever met through email, I’ve been able to help via mentorship. So it made sense to do it more formally via MentorCruise. Mentoring also helps energize me with the enthusiasm of people earlier in their journey and reminds me of what I know and what I can help with. Plus, it’s fun!

How did you get your career start?

I was very lucky to get an internship at Relic Entertainment during university, and I wound up working on huge hit titles like Company of Heroes and Dawn of War 2. I ended up helping ship 7 games at Relic and appreciated the mentorship of my various managers during my time there. Later on in my career, I had folks take chances on me like Shawn Jansepar when I joined Mobify in 2015 and Uri Bar-Joseph when I joined Formations in 2022. Their mentorship continues to have a positive impact on me today.

What do mentees usually come to you for?

Often, I teach folks about game development and help them make progress on their learning and projects. I also provide insight and guidance for career development. Some of my mentees are already working in industry, some are in school, and some are in other tech fields. I also help with C++ learning, knowledge and guidance, and overcoming issues with build pipelines, libraries, and design. If you’re looking for someone to keep you accountable, I am happy to check in with you and assist with coaching. I’m also happy to answer random questions and queries. I have a lot of experience across many platforms, team sizes, project sizes, engines, stacks, and programming languages, and I will be candid with you about whether or not I have expertise in something.

What's been your favourite mentorship success story so far?

One of my longest-running mentorships is with someone who wants C++ guidance and Q&A about game development but is not looking to join the game industry. They are making games as a hobby and using C++ in their day job. It’s been interesting to help them work on the problems they shared and answer questions as they come up. I’ve learned a thing or two when I run quick tests to ensure my recommendation is still correct! They are also in a different continent; in fact, most of my mentees are elsewhere in the world!

What are you getting out of being a mentor?

Mentorship is an important aspect of leadership, which the latter part of my career has focused on. I also enjoy how it leads to me meeting new people all over the world and sharing my experiences with them. It reminds me that I have actually done a lot of things and have a lot to share. It helps me build my network, so when I am looking to hire or someone asks me to refer, I have people I can reach out to right away. I’m also looking into writing a book so I can share early editions with mentees.

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