2014 BIS graduate Richard Bradfield wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do when the time came to fill in his CAO form. After some chopping and changing, he settled on BIS, and has never looked back!
Richard is now based in Boston and works as a Software Quality Assurance Analyst at American Tower, the company he did his 3rd year work placement with.
Here, Richard shares his story…
Why did you do BIS?
I was one of those students who really jumped around when it came to my CAO – from Primary School Teaching to Architecture and anything business related! I finally chose BIS after hearing what the course had to offer. During transition year in school we had some past pupils come and speak about how they had just returned from an unforgettable six months living in Boston on work placement. I never really knew what I wanted to do but I knew that I enjoyed all things business and had picked up one or two things about IT from my brother. I can safely say I have never looked back since and choosing BIS has opened up so many opportunities for me as a graduate.
What was the best thing you got out of the course?
The most common answer you’ll hear is the placement experience in 3rd year of BIS. It’s undoubtedly an incredible six months to live and work in the US, but I really think the best thing I took from BIS was actually growing as a person and really coming out of my shell. I was pretty quiet in school and even in first year of college but through making some great friends and seizing the opportunities that BIS and UCC offers to students through Societies, Clubs and other social aspects I really began to enjoy my time in the college. Public speaking was something I tremendously feared when I was younger but it was really something special for me to be able to stand up in front of my whole class along with my classmate and friend Clara, and give a speech in front of the whole class of 2014 and their parents.
Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
I went to Boston on placement to work for American Tower along with Nicola, one of my classmates. We were based just north of Boston and learned a huge amount from that experience. We both worked as Software Quality Assurance interns and had the opportunity to work on some enterprise-wide platforms that really had an impact on the company’s performance.
Where are you now?
When I graduated from college in October 2014 I returned to Boston to work for American Tower as an Associate Analyst. Something that can seem daunting is the visa process when moving to the US. I returned to America on the J-1 graduate visa with USIT/CIEE which allows me to work in the US for 12 months following graduation. This is something I would hugely recommend to people to pursue as it is a great opportunity to get at least 12 months working internationally. Just this month I have just been approved for a H1-B Sponsored visa which will extend my ability to work in the US for up to 6 years which I am absolutely delighted with.
How did you get this job?
When finishing up my internship in 2013 my manager called me into her office and offered me the chance to return following graduation which I expressed huge interest in. I also was given the opportunity to do some part-time work remotely for the company while finishing my final year of BIS. I worked remotely until the final exams were looming and then focused on studying. I moved back to the US in September 2014 to work for the company full-time.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
I can’t really recall anything specifically but I certainly remember the expression ‘don’t be afraid to take chances’. Now I have never been much of a risk taker but certainly moving on my own to the US was something that I pursued on my own which was somewhat daunting but nothing too overwhelming. Having heard from some incredibly honest and successful people in the start-up and corporate environments, taking risks and enjoying what you do is always something that will be a feature of their presentations.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
Making the decision to move back to the US after graduation was definitely something I had to seriously weigh up from a personal and professional perspective, and it was only when I was back in the US a few months that I even noticed I had ‘emigrated’. I think there is a certain negative connotation with that word because it has somewhat of a stigma attached. The work I do in the US is exactly the same as a huge number of my classmates are doing in Dublin, London, Kilkenny, Cork etc.
The Technology sector in Ireland/ UK is absolutely booming right now and it’s definitely something I want to be involved with down the line. I think another challenge was actually figuring out what field I want to work in… to be perfectly honest I’m still not sure what path I want to go down in terms of my career, so I’d be lying if I said I knew what I wanted to do. I’m sure if you asked my classmates they would tell you something similar! This definitely isn’t a bad thing as BIS gives you options to move around which I’m sure most people will be doing in the next few years including myself.
Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
My experiences in BIS and UCC is something I’ll always look back on for the right reasons, the doors that BIS has opened for all of my classmates is unquestionable. I don’t think there’s anything I would do differently; perhaps learn to enjoy myself in college from the get-go and not just from second year onwards.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
You may not know what you want to do in the future (I’m almost 24 now and still haven’t really figured it out!) but I really think BIS gives you exposure to so many different things like accounting, economics, enterprise systems analysis, software development, project management and many other modules. Now I’m not saying you’ll be an expert in any of these areas, but it definitely gives you an idea of what you might want to pursue once you finish your BSc – the right mix essentially! The community of friends that forms in BIS are also something that I think can’t be found in many other degrees.