From Building an Igloo and a Car to Discovering His Passion for Data Migrations

Keis Smit left BSB in 2017 and studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pretoria before realising that his skills and talents were best used in another area. He later found his calling by studying Full Stack Software Development at the Code Institute in Dublin.

We recently talked about his years after BSB, his road to a niche career, the insights gathered while studying here and the helpful questions students in Year 10 and Year 11 should ask themselves.


‘After I left BSB in June 2017 I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pretoria. However, this was short-lived as I realised that it was not the right choice for me. I made the mistake of chasing a degree that was not meant for me and found myself working far harder than fellow students because it was the wrong degree for me. I decided to study Full Stack Software Development at the Code Institute in Dublin. This put me in my element and I now have a niche career that is in high demand. Data migrations and the MVC model made more sense to me than the molecular structure of steel at different temperatures depending on the concentration percentage of the elements in the compound! University in the end for me was not just a school but a home shared with friends. I would not have previously thought that coding software would be my career but now I am working towards my future goals and looking at building a family. I intend to study for higher qualifications in the near future but this time I know what I want to study.

The years after BSB gave me a lot of insight into what I took for granted.

I miss my friends and teachers from BSB, you often forget about the impact they left on you during your time at BSB. The memories that I will cherish forever will be the late nights with the Innovation Hub Team, building an igloo and a car at the same time, or going into the DT room and enjoying conversations with the teachers. Relaxing in the Physics room and talking about hypothetical situations that just couldn’t be, was probably my favourite academic pastime. I remember the House competitions fondly too, especially the Tug of War which was absolutely brilliant.

At BSB, I learned to take responsibility for my actions as well as the ability to take the initiative. These skills are now vital in my career. During my first month at the company I now work for, I had to learn a new programming language, a new operating system, a new integrated development environment and how the company wants to get things done, to be able to complete a vital task that had to be part of an emergency release to a product with over 1.3 million users. There was not much room for mistakes, so while you have the time at school, if you struggle, ask for help because when life gets serious, there will be far fewer sources of support.’

Anything that you want to say to your BSB teachers or tips to current students relating to academics or life at BSB in general?

‘For current students in Years 10 and 11, I would say that sometimes you need to take a step back and ask yourself a few questions: ‘Is this subject easy for me?’, ‘Do I have to break my back to just pass this test?’, ‘Is there something more suited to my abilities that interests me?’

Once you have a solid answer to each of those questions then you are on the right path and this will help guide you into making the right subject choices and ultimately your university and degree choices.

I would really recommend doing an internship for a week, a month or even a year in a field that you may want to go and study.

See if there is an alternative for you, maybe you do not need a degree to go into the field that is your passion. Focus on your mental health.

I was forced ultimately to take a sabbatical but I reaped the benefits. I became more confident in myself; found out what my interests are and I had time to focus on my mental health and the direction that most suited me in the future.’

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