Juggling studies and internship a learning curve for engineering graduate

Mitchell Strange struggled in high school. It was a time he describes as “troubled”, for myriad reasons, and an environment that was not conducive to learning.

But the proud Kuku-Yalanji man knew he was capable of more. He just had to find the right place to carve out his own path.

For Mitchell, that place was the University of Wollongong, and that opportunity was a cadetship with Transport for NSW.

While in his final year of high school, Mitchell applied for a cadetship. He landed the role, but it was contingent upon earning a place at University.

“I applied for Early Entry for a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering,” Mitchell says. “I had to get a spot at uni to take up the cadetship. The aim was that I would work two days a week, and then full time during holidays, for Transport for NSW while studying.

“Electrical Engineering was the degree I was most interested in, so when I got a spot through Early Entry, I was thrilled. I’m from Liverpool, in South West Sydney, and UOW really gave me the chance to balance study and work. Having the cadetship and the degree gave me the best of both worlds. Everything fell into place.”

The independence of study at university allowed Mitchell to thrive, but he admits it was a challenge at first.

“I really had to develop my time management skills. For the first two years, I squished a five-day timetable into three days so I could work. I was trying to find my groove and balance everything. But I loved it. I found my passion.”

A huge help for Mitchell during this time was Woolyungah Indigenous Centre (WIC), which provided him with the tangible advice and support to balance his competing priorities. As he progressed through his degree, it also gave him the opportunity to give back to younger Indigenous students who were starting at UOW.

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