Keith Kavanagh has just completed his four year BIS degree, and during his four year’s in UCC played an active role in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Here he shares his story with us…
Why did you do BIS?
UCC really stood out of all the colleges I visited. I’d never really been to Cork before the UCC Open Day but I was completely surprised by the atmosphere and enthusiasm here that was not as visible from other colleges that I’d visited.
At the time I was exploring studying languages and music, however BIS was recommended to me a couple of weeks afterwards. I had a very keen interest in technology and business growing up and apart from languages or music, I couldn’t think of something else that really interested me or that I wanted to study more of or would consider a career in!
I realised I could continue music and languages through various outlets that universities offered, but the opportunity to study the unique mix of business and IT (particularly when IT isn’t a focused subject in secondary schools) was something I was excited to commit to studying for four years. The fact that the course starts teaching the technologies and business subjects from a beginner’s level made it a very attractive and reassuring decision.
What is the best thing you have got out of the course so far?
The six month placement opportunity is an incredibly worthwhile aspect that ties the whole BIS experience together. I was fortunate to be offered a position in an American Investment Management firm and to be placed in London for six months. The new skills and experience I gained from those six months will undoubtedly stand to me for the remainder of my career. Not only did it frame an understanding for the aspects of BIS I’d spent two and a half years studying but I was thankfully trusted with a heavy role of responsibility within the company that encompassed three different IT teams. I really felt that my ideas were welcomed, that my work was making a worthwhile contribution to the company, and as well as that, my teams went out of their way to expose me and the other interns to practices, technologies and teachings that we’d been unfamiliar with until then, and this was very much appreciated!
What’s the one thing that has surprised you the most about the course?
I think the extensive range of business and IT that the course facilitates is phenomenal and it’s something I only realised in retrospect. Friends from my own year at the end of our degree are now exploring so many diverse avenues that are available to them, based on their individual interests such as masters in Cyber Security, pursuing professional Accounting qualifications, securing jobs in mobile or web development, consulting, business analysis or even considering entrepreneurial ventures. BIS gives you the opportunity to taste all of these areas throughout the four years and I’m also grateful to have been able to identify areas that I am not as interested in, just as much as figuring out what I enjoy enough to pursue future jobs in.
Another thing that surprised me was the sense of community throughout BIS – many of our projects were group based and considering that we spend so much time working together on assignments, you really get to know so many people in the course. The lecturers and tutors also help to create this community type environment which makes the college experience feel less anonymous.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I’ll be moving to Dublin next year to begin a consultancy role but I would love to work abroad again, perhaps London, the US or Canada! I am really excited to work in consulting and I plan to keep pursuing my interests in mobile development, music and volunteering alongside this over the next few years.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
It can be daunting having to decide what you want to study for the next couple of years and eventually decide what you want to do afterwards, but I think with BIS, if you have the genuine interest in areas of technology and business, you will be opening yourself to numerous possibilities both during and after the degree. It’s really what you make of it and the course doesn’t box you into just one or two areas, you can do so much with it.
Tell us about your involvement in the St. Vincent de Paul Society in UCC?
I’ve been a member of the UCC SVP Society since first year, jumping from a general volunteer to Secretary, Finance Officer and Vice-Chairperson over the four years. Through SVP, I’ve had the chance to help raise thousands of euro for people experiencing homelessness and families in need through creating and participating in fundraising initiatives both on and off campus.
I’ve partially been responsible for getting our weekly Child and Adult activities off the ground and organising training and Garda Vetting for new members and volunteers. Most recently, we created 100 care packages for men and women experiencing homelessness, filled with essential items and distributed them to local resource centres in Cork. It’s been an incredible experience that has really opened my eyes to the needs of society and I hope to continue working with SVP in another capacity after I leave UCC.
Throughout my time in UCC, I also joined the Choral, LGBT* and Dramat Societies and completed a semester as the Public Relations Officer of the Society Guild Executive.
How does your BIS experience tie in with the work you do with UCC SVP?
Similar to how BIS usually operates through groups assignments and how group members rely on each other, societies also rely heavily on teamwork and depending on other people. The activities that UCC SVP work with depend on a group of volunteers to attend them each week so the committee is responsible for doing everything in our power to accommodate and facilitate the numbers and for preparing volunteers to be vetted and qualified to attend.
Everyone must complete their specific tasks in order to contribute to this success and the success of events, volunteer recruitment etc. For example, the PRO advertises to recruit volunteers, the Finance Officer books the transport for volunteers to activities, the Activity Officers must keep in regular contact with volunteers along every step of the process, and the Chairperson and Vice then must co-ordinate with the committee, volunteers and the local SVP staff in a way that doesn’t conflict with academic schedules but still gets the job done. We must also ensure that the committee has the necessary skills and tools to do their assigned tasks.
In 2017, a collaborative project undertaken by a group of 23 first year Business Information Systems (BIS) students in UCC raised €2,230 for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Cork. The first year students undertook the group project to create a charity CD of Christmas carols that saw them come together to brainstorm, rehearse, collaborate, and record the album, and once complete, sell it to raise funds for the charity which was fantastic to see!
How can people get involved in the society?
Feel free to approach the society on campus at Societies Day or Failte Fest in 2017. ‘Liking’ our Facebook page or just turning up to one of our events is probably the best way to get started! It’s never too late to get involved either, all years are welcome!
People can sign up to our mailing list in advance through this link where all the need-to-know info will be sent: http://eepurl.com/cgpUzX.