Teenager Clinton McDonough has taken his first steps into the world of work in very familiar surroundings – as an IT apprentice at his former Sunderland school.
The 16-year-old impressed teachers at Academy 360 so much with his IT skills and GCSE A grade exam performance that they offered him a paid apprenticeship role within the school when he left in the summer.
Clinton is now a trusted and valued member of staff – working alongside the team he addressed as ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’ just three months ago.
“I was asked about the apprenticeship by the Principal Rachel who said it was a huge opportunity for me, to take it and see if it was for me,” said Clinton, who originally planned to go to college.
“Apparently I’d been excelling in IT and that was why I was offered the apprenticeship; I was shocked but I felt great. I decided to take the opportunity and haven’t looked back since.
“I used to have to walk up to teachers and call them ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’ but now I can call them by their first name and I’m allowed to!”
Clinton’s interest in IT was sparked by his uncle who as a 3D animator introduced him as a child to the world of computing.
“I used to play games, try and take them apart, reverse engineer them and make them up again and I really got into programming with computer science at school,” he said.
“I showed that I had a huge interest for all things computing. I’ve remembered everything my uncle told me about how different parts of the computer work and I’ve expanded my knowledge from there.”
Clinton, from Pallion, now troubleshoots IT problems for Academy 360 staff as he settles into working life for the first time.
Academy 360 Principal Rachel Donohue said: “Clinton is very deserving of the opportunity offered to him here at Academy 360. As a student he was hard working and demonstrated a positive attitude to his studies.
“I really hope that other students see Clinton as a role model and aspire to follow in his footsteps – hard work will lead to success and Clinton is a very clear example of this.”
Clinton added: “I always used to ask my line manager Rob Atkin for support about what I should do but now my confidence has grown it’s actually mainly me troubleshooting the problem.
“I’m more familiar with the hardware that we use in school and how it operates. It makes me feel self-accomplished and really happy that I know I can help and do my best to resolve the problem.”
Clinton’s post is a one-year role and he has his eyes set firmly on the future.
“I’d love to work here permanently if the opportunity arises,” he said.
“I used to want to be a games designer like my uncle but now I want to see how far I can go with this job, add on more skills like network manager, cloud-based services and see how far I can get. I don’t think there’s an end goal that I can hit, I just want to exceed what I’ve been.”