“Being a Business Intelligence major, I study data and analyse it. The BIS course goes beyond that!”

Megan O'DonnellThis year BIS welcomed three US students for the second semester. We had a chat to Megan O’Donnell about her BIS experience….

Tell us a little about yourself – where you’re from, where and what you are studying in the USA, how long you’ve been in Cork etc.

My name is Megan O’Donnell and I am from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, which is about 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia. I study at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Saint Joe’s is a small institution, which prides itself on its Jesuit values.

I am studying Food Marketing and Business Intelligence. At Saint Joe’s I am involved in Collegiate Challenge, Student Alumni Association, and I am a brother of the Professional Business Fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi. I currently hold a position at Wegmans Food Markets as a Store Operations Intern and work in their Seafood Department.

I have been in Cork since January 6th and have loved every minute of it. I have taken a variety of classes here at UCC, including two BIS modules, Philosophy, English, and Marketing.

Why did you choose to come to UCC and why did you choose BIS?

I chose to come to UCC for a number of reasons. It has always been my dream to study in Ireland, but I knew I did not want to be in a large city. I work at the Center for International Programs at Saint Joe’s and when talking to my co-workers about where in Ireland I should study, they quickly told me that UCC would be a great fit for me. I could not agree more with them. UCC had everything to offer in terms of modules that transfer back to Saint Joe’s for credit so that I am able to graduate on time.

I chose to take BIS courses because I had heard about all of the wonderful and interesting topics discussed in the course and how they impact business. Being a Business Intelligence major, I study data and analyse it. The BIS course goes beyond that and shows students the behind the scenes work of coding and developing the systems that business analysts use.

What is the best thing you have got out of the course during your time in Ireland?

I have learned a lot about the theory and structure behind databases and how they work. At home, building a database is not part of my curriculum and I feel that learning how to do this during my time here helped me to understand the beginning of Information Systems.

I have also learned a lot about working with others from a different culture. In working with the Irish students and the professors, I have come to notice how we all work differently to get to the same goal. This is not a bad thing, but interesting to notice and observe.

What’s the one thing that has surprised you most about the course?

I was most surprised that the BIS students take most of the same classes together and they have their schedules produced for them. I am used to taking a wide variety of classes and working with different people on a daily basis at home, so that is quite different here. I do think, however, that having students work together with the same group all the time can be beneficial in that in the work place we are often working with the same people. It will only prepare them for what is ahead.

What’s the biggest difference between college in the US and Ireland?

The biggest difference between college in the US and Ireland is the work load. In the US, I have mountains of homework and studying to do on daily/weekly basis. I often feel that I have no free time, but I do enjoy being continuously assessed throughout the semester so that I do not feel completely lost when it comes to the final exam.

In Ireland, however, the work load is much lighter with only a project or a quiz and the final exam. I feel like I have so much free time, but it does make me nervous for finals. It is nice to feel though that the professors understand that students have a life outside of school. In the US, I think professors sometimes forget that school is not my entire life.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

In 5 years I see myself as a department manager at Wegmans, working my way up to corporate ladder. I hope to be using everything that I have learned in BIS to make intelligent business decisions within the workplace.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?

If you find yourself afraid that you will not like BIS or you will not succeed in the field, just give it a chance. Businesses today look for anyone with an Information Systems background because of the overwhelming amount of data that is produced each day.

There are so many different aspects to BIS, so I am sure you will find one that fits you best. The students and professors are so enthusiastic about BIS and are always there to help throughout the course.

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