This article is the fourth in the series ‘Real Life Careers’ in which we chat to people about their career and look at the (sometimes unexpected) paths they took to get there. We chatted with Stuart Wepener (29), an IT Engineer, who holds a Certificate in IT Networking.

High school

Stuart answered some questions about his experiences in high school and how they impacted his varsity and career choices.

Q: What subjects did you take at school?

A: Accounting, Physics, Maths, Computer, English & Afrikaans

Q: What were your favourite subjects at school?

A: Accounting, Physics, Maths and Computers

Q: Would you say any of your favourite subjects have been helpful to your degree and career?

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A: Definitely. The majority of fields in the IT industry (such as being an IT Engineer) are highly dependent on logic. A lot of those subjects also require a degree of logic, and I feel like, as with any skill, if you practice something like logic, you do get better at it.

Q: What skills that you learned at school have proved helpful?

A: Problem solving from Maths and technology familiarity from Computers.

Q: What do you wish you had done more of while at school?

A: I’m quite happy with what I did.

Q: Were you aware of your current career path when you were in high school?

A: I was not.

University

There are a few general considerations to be made when leaving school and heading into tertiary education. In this section, Stuart reflects upon his choices and his path through his degree(s).

Q: Did you take a gap year?

A: No, gap years are quite expensive and while I love exploring, I also don’t like the idea of taking a working gap year and eating baked beans for the year.

Q: Did you get into your first choice field of study?

A: I believe I ‘defaulted’ into my field. Leaving high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, no idea what my passion was. I therefore just followed something that I had a lot of experience with, through being a bit of a gamer at a younger age. This is what led me to do IT Networking, and specifically being an IT Engineer.

Q: Did you start tertiary education pursuing the degree you ended with?

A: Yes

Q: What attracted you to pursue the Degree and career you did?

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A: As I mentioned, since I was into computers I just sort of “defaulted” into it.

I started working with Computers when I was very young, mostly because I loved the games. This love of gaming grew and so did my knowledge of computers itself.

In high school, it led me to take up Computers, which started me on programming and by the time I got to varsity it seemed like the natural subject to take.

Q: Is your current career path related to your tertiary studies?

A: Yes

Q: Have you done Postgraduate studies and would you do so again if you went back to the end of undergrad?

A: I am currently doing postgraduate studies.

A career in IT often requires continuous study, since the industry is ever changing.

A lot of the certifications through vendors (ie Microsoft) require you to renew or update your certificate in a field.

Q: Have you taken any ‘breaks’ during your studies?

A: Due to the nature of IT study, you can take your time to study. I tend to take my time through each exam content, take a month break and start on the next one.

Career: IT Engineer

Stuart now answers some questions that are specific to his current career. This gives us insight into some of the realities of being an IT Server Engineer.

Q: Do you have a specific focus or speciality within your field?

A: I am still in the process of specialising. Until now I have been an IT Generalist. Right now I am focusing on Microsoft Servers, Virtualisation, and Cloud…with a possible touch of Storage.

Q: What does your job involve day to day?

A: Ensuring Services up time and designing/implementing new IT Services. (Notably Backup and Storage Infrastructures)

it-serverQ: What ‘things’ would you recommend individuals who are wanting to go into your field (general or specific) to consider that they may not be aware of?

A: I did not take my studies serious initially, I do wish I had focused on my studies at the get go, rather than wasting time now. Other than that I would also recommend anyone who wants to be an IT Engineer, or excel in this industry, to be a naturally inquisitive person. You will often be tinkering with technology to better understand and figure out new ways to benefit their environments.

Keep an eye out for the next post in our ‘Real Life Careers’ series.

About the author
Jax Heilgendorff

I have watched the development of AL.com for years and marveled at the ingenuity and passion shown from the start. As a Linguistics major, university lecturer and burgeoning copywriter, the Advantage Learn story is one close to my heart. I hope to add to the development of educational thinking in South Africa by helping to relate topics and create spaces for thought on the challenges and opportunities facing South African learners, students, and parents.

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