WAGGA’S Blake McDermott has had his sights set on a career in information technology (IT) for many years.
So sure of his path, Blake dropped out of school at 16 and with the support of his parents and school enrolled in a joint-pathway program between Riverina TAFE and Charles Sturt University (CSU).
Three years later and Blake will graduate with an Advanced Diploma of Network Security and a Bachelor of Information Technology.
He’s also completed his CISCO certification.
“There’s a lot of advantages and Blake has gotten a head start but it’s come at a cost"- TAFE teacher Dan Winson
The upshot is Blake is now looking for work while many of his friends are just finishing gap-years or starting their first years of tertiary study.
Blake said the difference had been “amusing”.
“My friends are talking about how they’re looking forward to doing their first year of university,” he said.
Thanks to class schedules, it’s meant Blake has had classes with first university students as he completes his degree.
Riverina TAFE’s network security teacher and CSU lecturer Dan Winson said the pathway program gave graduates a competitive advantage.
“You get the best of both worlds, hands on experience here at TAFE and academic work at CSU,” he said.
Mr Winson warned it wasn’t for everyone however.
“There’s a lot of advantages and Blake has gotten a head start but it’s come at a cost,” he said.
Mr Winson said it was a mountain of work to complete the program.
“Blake wanted to start in the IT industry as quickly as possible,” Mr Winson said.
Blake’s focus has been on network security requiring skills in all aspects of IT.
A number of government departments in Canberra have invited Blake for job interviews.
“I started with after-school TAFE courses in year 10,” Blake said.
“Dropping out school, you’ve got to be sure, if you don’t want to continue with it, you have nothing to fall back on.”
Blake said he become good at time management, having to study two full-time courses.
“In the lead up to exams I would be up at 7am and in bed by 10pm,” he said.
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