Internships are a game changer

THREE students from Priestley College have secured internships with one of the most high-profile computer games companies in the world.

Sam Sharp, Mitch Weir and Courtney Cunliffe met with TT Games – which is part of Warner Brothers – through their Computer Games Design course at Priestley.

Now they have been taken on by the games giant and given some extraordinary opportunities such as working on the Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga game.

“They threw me straight in at the deep end using their software and hardware,” said former Helsby High pupil Sam.

“I thought there would be a huge difference between being an intern and everyone else, but I’ve been treated the same.

“I never thought I’d be doing this so young, people spend a long time trying to work on such a high-profile game.”

Priestley tutor Matt Wilson forged the partnership with TT Games after inviting its head of design, Arthur Parsons, into his classroom.

Impressed and inspired by what he saw, Arthur offered to look at the possibility of internships for some of those who completed the Level 3 course.

Successful candidates then continue on the Art Foundation course at Priestley while being paid to work at the company.

So far, the team at TT Games have been impressed by the contributions made by Sam, Mitch and Courtney.

“You’d struggle to know they were interns,” said Arthur. “They’ve all been accepted as being part of their teams and being expected to deliver work like any other team member.

“This experience will be completely invaluable as they are learning how to make games in the best way possible, by actually working on some of the biggest hit games of the future.

“It is a testament to their own talent, intelligence and passion, as well as the grounding their course at Priestly gave them, that they have been able to adapt so swiftly to videogame development.”

Each of the interns has been placed on a different project and integrated into a development team with meaningful work to complete.

So far they have been designing content and features for videogames and making a creative contribution to the whole process.

Former Penketh High pupil Mitch applied for the internship because it offered the chance to gain industry experience without having to move far away.

“A lot of people at work have been surprised with the knowledge I already have – especially when they find out I haven’t been to university,” said Mitch.

To apply for the TT Games’ internships, Priestley’s students put together a portfolio like the ones they prepare for university applications.

They attended an interview and were struck by how informal it was. Interviewees were simply keen to get the best out of them so created a friendly atmosphere.

Courtney, who attended Hope Academy before Priestley, said the interns had felt ready for their new role.

“College prepared us really well because before we started work we had covered all the software we would be using,” she said.

“In our second year we worked in teams which was really useful because it helped us develop our communication skills.”

Following their one-year internships, the students might receive an offer of full-time work, but also have the option of university or applying to another company.

Tutor Matt Wilson said his goal was to ensure his young learners had as many opportunities as possible to succeed in the Computer Games business.

“We are doing a good thing if we are creating new routes for Level 3 students into an industry that, in the past, has mainly only been accessible after taking a degree,” he said.

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