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James Schifferle

Software engineer

Science careers

An Australian school-based apprenticeship kickstarted James Schifferle’s STEM career

The experience of building his own computer in school got James hooked on IT. “I loved the research and learning involved, and the satisfaction at the end when it finally turns on is unforgettable,” he says. “One of the great things about IT is that all you need to start learning is a computer.”

An interest in computers and electronics led James to take a vocational education and training (VET) course and school-based apprenticeship, working in his school’s IT department. It not only counted towards his final grades, it also helped in other ways.

“I feel that my apprenticeship gave me a headstart on the coursework – lots of my first year studies were things I had already learnt through my certificate III or experienced through work in the IT department.”

But the second, perhaps even greater, advantage came later when scholarship, internship and work opportunities became available. “I was amazed by how relevant my school-based apprenticeship was. Having experience really helped my applications stand out and was an important talking point in job interviews.”

Programming a career

Now a software engineer, James says he loves being hands-on and writing code every day. Along with trying online programming tutorials, his advice to students is to look for opportunities such as conventions, trade shows and camps.

“Before starting Year 12, I spent a few weeks at the National Computer Science School programming bootcamp. Being immersed in an environment filled with passionate students and experts will teach you more in a short period than you thought possible.”

The best thing about working in IT? “It never gets stale. It’s always evolving quickly and I’m constantly learning new things.” – Danielle Lucas

James’ pathway

  • Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology, Swan Hill College
  • Bachelor of Computer Science, La Trobe University
  • Internship, TechnologyOne
  • Graduate Programmer, Box Hill Institute (TAFE)
  • Software Engineer, Banxa
  • Internship, TechnologyOne
  • Software Engineer, Aussie Broadband

This article was brought to you in partnership with NCI and was originally published in Careers with STEM: Science.

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