Back in February 2019, we shared Lee Porter’s story about his journey towards a STEM career. At that point, Lee had been part of Moving On Tyne & Wear (MOTW) for a little while and had just finished a course with TICE where he completed his first practical games development project. Six months on, Lee has been able to use the game he developed during that time to impress one of the North East’s leading creative and digital agencies, Drummond Central (DC).
When we visited him, Lee had just completed an action-packed two-week placement with Drummond Central’s digital arm, Coalface. We caught up with him and Drummond team members Lee Peacock and Michael Grange to chat about the experience.
Lee’s time at DC
Lee has been working hard to figure out the right path for and how he can and develop his skills, but knowing how an office environment works and feels is a crucial step towards building confidence.
He was working with Neil, MOTW Volunteer Coordinator from our delivery partner organisation, North Tyneside VODA, alongside his Health Pathways Officer and Job Coach. Neil used his connections to find agencies who might speak with Lee, offer a tour of their digs and give him a flavour of agency life.
Lee Peacock, Content Executive at Drummond Central said, “When we first spoke to Neil, we didn’t know what this was going to be. He just wanted Lee to come in and chat with some people in the industry, get a little bit of guidance and instruction. It wasn’t till he showed us Run Foxy, Run (the game Lee developed) that Michael got really excited and wanted to bring him on board. He’s made his way here 100% on raw talent – not contacts and who he knows. He blew Michael away.”
Coalface’s Digital Project Manager, Michael Grange, worked closely with Lee during what ended up being a two-week placement.
“The last thing I wanted to do is bring Lee along and just have grunt work for him to do. It was just by chance that we had something we thought Lee would be able to assist with and which leveraged Lee’s skill sets. Lee has been great to work with. He took the brief like any other developer.
“We had a problem that we needed him to solve. We were looking for a solution and we didn’t spoon-feed him anything. We asked him to use his skills and knowledge. That’s exactly what he did.
“This is a real-life client and real-life project. It’s something that we didn’t initially have in-house expertise on. When I first met Lee and Neil from VODA, he showed me ‘Run Foxy, Run’, and I instantly saw that Lee had talents in that area. It was then decided that Lee would come across and work with us.”
We asked Lee what he had been working on during his work experience: “I’m using the same programme to create a globe the user can interact with. It’s for Northumbria University. It’s supposed to show parts of a student’s journey. I’ve been doing brand new stuff. I’ve been learning as I go along. From the get-go, I felt like part of the team. I’ve been treated no differently. I’ve got a nice bit of experience and met some nice people.”
Drummond Central is no stranger to welcoming people through their doors and supporting learning. School of DC is the agency’s work experience initiative aimed at young people.
Lee Peacock told us, “School of DC was put in place to stop people having to come in every week and not get much out of it. We found that a lot of the time when people were coming in when we were busy, we were giving work that we needed to offload. We wanted to give people valuable experience. Lee’s experience has very much followed that ethos. We wanted Lee’s experience to have some worth rather than him sitting in the corner cracking on with a pretend project. You get the best out of real-life experience, working on client briefs, and working with guidelines. It gives you the best taste of working in the industry full-time.”
When we asked what Lee got out of the experience, he stated: “I’ve met some really interesting people. People have actually offered to help out afterwards. So, I’ve got some contacts.”
Thanks to the help of Drummon Central’s Motion Graphic Lead, Gareth Wood, Lee was introduced to a whole new avenue of opportunities. “I very much want to get into game development but it’s opened my eyes to various other areas like web development. That could be something I add to my skill set. I had a discussion last week with somebody who works with animation. That’s shifted my target slightly. I want to do programming in animation. Rather than building a game in its entirety, working on just one element and making the character look good with movement.”
To add to this, CoalFace’s Senior Front-end Developer, Cass Woodhill, has offered Lee continued support with his portfolio.
We’re so pleased we were able to help Lee forge a connection with a leading agency from the North East. He now has more tools in his belt to take him further. Compared to when MOTW staff first met Lee, he’s grown immeasurably. We know Lee has a bright future ahead of him. We can’t wait to see what’s in store.