How Playing Dungeons & Dragons Helped My Career

This blog was written by DU student Hannah Renea Bumgarner and originally appeared on on January 31, 2018.
The return of the liberal arts. The lack of soft skills. Employees who are content experts, but unable to work in groups and think dynamically or creatively.  The T-Shaped learner.
These conversations are happening at career and professional development and HR offices all across the country. Hannah Bumgarner, expertly makes the connection between personal hobbies and career development, underscoring the fact that not all learning can happen in a classroom.
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By: Hannah Bumgarner
You have to face the Boss. You’ve trained for this your whole life, and it’s finally time to ask for a raise. You walk into her office, her lips pull back into a chilling million-dollar grin. She’s been expecting you.
Roll for charisma.
The 20-sided die wobbles, bounces, and flips on the table. Your stomach turns in knots. Everything hangs in the balance of this roll.
The die rocks to a stop and you scream. It’s a nat-20! One of the rarest and most successful rolls in the game. You’re given a raise, a promotion, extra vacation days. She names you the employee of the year. Your coworkers adore you, the papers and blogs write articles on your incredible work ethic and drive.
Okay, maybe Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) won’t help you in that way in your career. The wildly popular tabletop roleplaying game from the 1970s has come a long way, but thankfully life doesn’t hang in the balance of rolls of dice.
I joined DU’s D&D club (affectionately referred to as “DUDAD” by our members) last spring as a fun way to chill on a Friday afternoon and make friends. I had no idea how many soft skills I would gain from simply showing up and having a good time once a week.
They say those soft skills are what gets you in the door and started in your career. Things like interpersonal relations, communication, creativity, and problem-solving. Hard skills, like being proficient in Excel or speaking a second language, are things a company can easily train you for, but those soft skills are how you’re even considered.
Every week, I sit down with a team of “adventurers,” and for a couple hours, we work through problems. Sure, the problems we have to solve aren’t your typical workplace ones. At least, I hope not, we had to battle giant lizards and negotiate with high elven guards last Friday. Still, it’s an excellent way to think outside of the box and come up with clever solutions to get through something.
Not only that, you have to work as a team. Most D&D groups are roughly four people with a Dungeon Master (DM, basically the world builder and leader). Our group is almost ten people, and with that many moving parts, with that many unique personalities and characters, we’ve learned how to use each other’s strengths and weaknesses to better the team.
Communication and patience are key, too. While waiting for your turn, you’re able to assess the situation and negotiate strategies with your teammates. I’d say we do a pretty good job; we managed to save our party from a group of like, twelve ogres one time, and nobody died. Always a plus!
So, if you want to develop your soft skills in a fun way that doesn’t even feel like work, get a group of friends together and have an adventure. If you’re on campus, stop by Driscoll at 7 pm on Fridays and join a group. I made most of my closest friends through DUDAD, and those friends are going to become business colleagues in the future.

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