“BIS helps gets you in the door and your competence and confidence gets you the job”

Christopher LyonsA quick chat in 3rd year helped BIS graduate Christopher Lyons secure a job at Intel Security in City Gate in Mahon, Cork after graduation…

Why did you do BIS?
I’m a huge nerd! In my house we were raised on computers bought in the ESB Shop (showing my age), so I was cobbling PCs together with my Dad in the early 90s. Amazing what you can do with single digit megabytes of RAM and 333 MHz processors looking back.

A BIS graduate came to speak in my school just after I submitted my CAO application with a different choice as first preference. It sounded like the perfect combination of computers and business, and the placement program was really exciting; so I updated the CAO form and took up BIS.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
Confidence! The holistic view of technologies and business and how they interact put me streets ahead of most folks in careers longer than my own. You’ll be surprised years later how coffee mornings with Ciaran and Patricia give you the social skills to effectively present yourself in meetings. You’ll have the technical knowledge and the personal capability to present yourself confidently, often more so than your older teammates. It’s about being open to the whole learning process in technology, business and self-presentation as a professional.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston – long standing friends of the BIS course and having adopted many graduates from BIS over the years they made us feel like we belonged from the minute we landed. The placement is a great taster of the careers you can pick up, and crucially, a time to ask questions, meet people, examine their careers and see what fits and what doesn’t for you.

Eight years later I still talk about that work experience, and eight years later its mega impressive to folks who ask about it.

Where are you now?
Intel Security in City Gate in Mahon, Cork. I’ve held three different positions and been acquired once under the McAfee/Intel acquisition. Aside from that you accumulate auxiliary roles over the years, I lecture in Globalization in CIT, and run national Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in the formal and informal trainings sectors with schools and Foróige on peer led ambassador training. I’m setting the stage for the LGBT Intel chapter out of our Cork office. And after eight years I’m back in UCC doing a Masters in professional coaching.

How did you get this job?
The then Vice-President of Localization, Paul Walsh gave a talk to our class in 3rd year as part of Ivan Morrissey’s lab work. I asked him about the possibility of graduate work. When I graduated, there were no jobs advertised but I dropped in my CV to their careers portal. By the end of that summer I was straight out of college into my career at McAfee. BIS helps gets you in the door and your competence and confidence gets you the job! Not mutually exclusive by any stretch of the imagination.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
That it’s LONG! Hahaha. The years do go by in a blink. It’s always good to have a direction or plan heading into a career, but keep a beginners mind and go where your strengths are. Beware of sunk cost bias, just because you’ve been in one role doesn’t mean you should stay in it. BIS offers you the diversity and flexibility to offer your professionalism in many different areas, so embrace you competencies. Change in a career is what will round you and grow you! Your career is long so try on new things and let some fall by the wayside, nothing you pickup will be wrong, and you’ll learn from everything so long as you keep an open mind.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
People. Consistently an organisation is made of them, and how they work and how to navigate them to stay on task is a constant endeavour. Don’t underestimate the value of Business Psychology in 1st year. To be a truly successful contributor and innovator you’ll need robust self-awareness and awareness of the inner workings of an organisation. The soft skills are rapidly becoming recognised as necessary core competencies, not only in leadership but in teams.

Overcoming people?! Ha. You don’t. You work with them to accomplish a task. Something I tackle with a lot more grace these days than I did as a graduate.

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I’d have trusted myself more! As a graduate in an old established team I felt very green even though I had great expertise and experience. You should leave BIS knowing you’re top shelf industry standard (and often above standard!) and own it. Confidence is a hard thing to give someone, but if you’re not selling what you’ve got, it’s rare that you’ll meet someone to champion it for you! Get a mentor, get a peer tutor and get a professional network, preferably outside your workplace. It keeps you tuned into your core competencies and gets you out of the fishbowl.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
Technology. Business. Professionalism. Placements. Jobs. If they’re things you’re looking for the go for it. The flexibility of BIS means you can focus on coding or hardware or process, and come out the other end as a stellar graduate. If you don’t have a focus you’ll find something in BIS that you can pick up and excel in.

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