Mitch McKinstry, an Earn & Learn developer at WiseTech Global, knew from a young age that he wanted to be a software developer. He began his coding journey in Year 7 and spent a lot of his free time learning how to code through resources like Grok Learning, Udemy and YouTube.

Mitch's advice for high school students considering a career in tech is to dive into projects that excite you! He believes that by working on things you're passionate about, learning to code becomes fun, natural, and deeply rewarding.

When and how did your passion for coding begin?

I began programming in Year 7 after watching some tutorials on how to make games using Unity. I started spending more and more of my free time coding and watching the tutorials until I began experimenting and trying to make new features.

How did you learn how to code?

A lot of my learning was self-taught and through experimenting with new concepts that I learned when trying to add new functionality to my code. This led me to explore other tutorials and programming forums, which would introduce me to new concepts that I could implement into my projects.

What online courses or platforms did you find most helpful for learning new programming languages and concepts?

My school's technology classes used Grok Learning to teach Python, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which were super beneficial for introducing me to new languages and concepts. Other than Grok, I have used courses on Udemy and YouTube, which have led to me learning more advanced and specific coding concepts relating to my projects at the time.

Have you attended any coding bootcamps or competitions? If so, which ones and did they contribute to your skill development?

Before I started programming, when I was around 10, I attended this problem solving camp, which let me work in teams to figure out various programming themed puzzles and problems without needing any coding experience. Although it wasn't using programming languages, it showed me some new approaches to problem solving, which I use from time to time.

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

My most effective learning was when I was working on some sort of project. I would find something in your day to day life or in one of your interests that programming can interact with and make a project relating to that. I found game development really interesting, as it was a topic I was already enthusiastic about. By working on the project, the learning is done much more naturally and feels very rewarding in the moment, which will advance your programming skills while still moving at your own pace.

What excites you about being part of the Earn & Learn Program?

As someone who has always wanted to pursue a career in software development, the Earn & Learn program lets me put my knowledge to use in a real-world application in the workplace whilst still learning at university and completing my degree. By doing both work and study in parallel, I am also able to learn through my university studies and apply the newfound knowledge directly to my work.