Earn & Learn developer, Ariel Kai Li Daniel, developed a curiosity in coding in high school after participating in a programming event by the Girl’s Programming Network. This initial interest quickly developed into a genuine passion as she explored the vast possibilities of coding through various hands-on experiences in high school.

Ariel's passion for coding led her to participate in UTS' Wanago Program, which provided her with invaluable insights and practical skills in software design and development. Her path eventually led her to WiseTech's Earn & Learn program, where she now continues to advance her skills and contribute to real-world projects.

We caught up with Ariel to find out more about what motivated her to pursue computer science, and her experiences in the Wanago Program and what attracted her to the Earn & Learn program.

When and how did your passion for coding begin?

My interest in coding began around Year 9, when I participated in a Girl's Programming Network (GPN) event designed to facilitate technological interest in younger girls. The fun I had tinkering away at problems in my work, and the realization at the breadth of scope the world of code had, really sparked coding as a path I wanted to explore more.

What made you want to study computer science in Year 11 and 12?

What made me want to study computer science in Year 11 and 12 was the hands-on experience I acquired through the software design and development course. The excitement of overcoming challenging problems and the sense of accomplishment from completing a project that provided valuable insights truly made computer science an appealing career choice for me.

Additionally, the aspects often linked with tech careers, like the opportunity to exercise creativity, the potential for financial success, and the ever-evolving nature of the field, further solidified computer science as a viable career pathway in my mind.

You participated in UTS’ Wanago Program in high school, what made you decide to do this program?

The UTS Wanago Program offers STEM curriculum subjects for high school students in NSW in an effort to address STEM workforce gaps. I decided to participate in the Wanago Program in high school because my school didn’t offer software design and development as a subject. I wanted to do software design and development (SDD) more specifically as I heard it was more practically-minded than information processes and technology (IPT).

Why do you think your high school didn’t offer software development subjects?

I think that my high school didn't offer more computer-related subjects because of the shortage of specifically digital technology teachers. This was similar to many of the other students in the Wanago Program that lived in more rural areas, or had schools that lacked teachers with proper experience in digital technology.

What was it like studying at UTS?

Studying at UTS provided me with such an informative experience; I got to witness first-hand the commute to and from the university, the dynamics of classes, the available classrooms and facilities, and overall, what university life entails.

Going on this journey alongside peers my age undoubtedly helped me to form friendships within the program. Everyone came from unique backgrounds and attended schools I might never have encountered otherwise. However, our shared interest in tech really connected us.

What did you learn in the Wanago program?

Other than the standard software design and development course, I learnt so much about how technology is used in different workspaces and its numerous applications. My teacher was highly passionate about careers in technology, and often arranged site visits and talks with various people in the industry. Her sharing her extensive experience as a woman in tech also helped solidify an image of myself within the field. It really showed us how we had the opportunity to contribute to the tech space in such a diverse array of ways.

But most importantly, I learnt about the Earn and Learn program from Wanago, as well as other great tech pathways that can be explored post-high school.

What attracted you to WiseTech’s Earn & Learn program and what excites you most about it?

What initially caught my attention about WiseTech’s Earn & Learn program was the chance to gain valuable industry experience straight out of high school. The opportunity to collaborate with seasoned software developers and dive into enterprise-level code convinced me that this program could significantly boost my learning curve.

What excites me about my future at WiseTech is the prospect of advancing as a developer and acquiring both the technical and collaborative skills that will enhance my contributions to the workforce.

What practical advice would you give to high school students who are keen to advance their coding skills?

The thing that helps me to advance the most in terms of my coding skills is looking for something I want to achieve. From there I can work backwards and learn the skills needed for the project through quick walkthroughs, tutorials or courses. I have also found that the ability to search for solutions to your problems, whether it be through websites, asking someone, or forums, while maintaining your own drive to learn has really facilitated my growth in programming.