Information Technology Services (ITS)

IT@UofT People — Jonathan Zhao

Published on: January 19, 2023

The backbone of any successful team is its hard-working people. The University of Toronto’s Information Technology Services (ITS) unit is no exception. It is made up of a diverse range of people with an even greater diversity in their interests and talents.

In this segment, entitled “IT@UofT People,” we will get to know our IT@UofT team across the tri-campus community and find out more about their hidden or not-so-hidden talents and/or pursuits outside of work.


Name: Jonathan Zhao

Department: Information Security

Title: Senior Authentication Systems Specialist

How long have you worked at U of T?

I joined U of T in April 2022 when the division was starting to settle into our new hybrid work model.

What is your secret or not-so-secret talent or hobby outside of work?

I teach coding to kids from eight years old to university students. Some of them are elementary school students learning Scratch, while others are freshmen at U of T learning CS108.

By coding, I mean all kinds of popular programming languages, including Scratch, Python, C++, Java and Golang.

How and why did you get involved in this hobby?

Due to classes being moved online during the pandemic, I noticed many kids showing interest in computers. At first, I taught my 10 year old son some basic coding skills, then many kids in my community joined in on the lessons that I taught online. My goal is to help more kids to open the door into the programming world.

Jonathan in front of his computer

When/how did your interest in this area begin?

I learned coding skills mostly the hard way (by myself) and I always wish I had had a tutor to help me during my early days. Although it has become very easy to find learning materials on the internet, it’s still very hard for coding beginners to get started.

Do you have any professional training in this field?

Not really. But I have watched a lot of public courses on the internet, including the popular Harvard CS50.

Who/what are your inspirations?

My math professor at university, whose name is Zhi Cao, once said that it’s much more meaningful to help your classmates get a decent score than to get a perfect score for yourself.

Anything else you would like to add?

Sharing and teaching make me happier and stronger!