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.

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.

UCC BIS Students present cheque to St. Vincent de Paul

Eamonn Grennan, Keith Kavanagh and Chantelle O’Sullivan pictured at the cheque presentation by first year BIS students to St. Vincent de Paul. The students raised €2,230 through the sale of a CD of Christmas carols they recorded, with all proceeds go towards the St. Vincent de Paul education fund.

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Leaving Cert students learn how to #MakeITWork with BIS at UCC

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  On Friday, May 12th, Leaving Cert students from a number of schools around Cork attended a #MakeITWork event in UCC. The event for prospective Business Information Systems (BIS) students gave them the opportunity to experience university life and get … Continue reading

“I had the incredible opportunity to live and work in London for six months”

sarah-mcnamaraFinal year BIS student Sarah McNamara shared her BIS experience with us, from choosing the course to what the future holds…

Why did you do BIS?
I was not too sure what I wanted to do in college. I knew I had an interest in technology, but never really considered doing a course in that area, but that changed after I attended the open day in UCC in 6th year and sat in on the BIS talk. I heard stories from past and present BIS students. They told us about their college and placement experiences and the job prospects after graduating and it really appealed to me. So, I decided to do it!

What is the best thing you have got out of the course so far?
There are so many highlights of my past few years in BIS, but the obvious choice is the opportunity I had to go abroad on placement for six months.

I had the incredible opportunity to live and work in London for six months. I was working with Credit Suisse Investment Bank in Canary Wharf. I was working as a Business Analyst in a Global IT team in the Risk and Finance division of the firm. Over the six months, I received a substantial amount of invaluable industry experience that will stand to me greatly in my future career. A stand out memory was when myself and Emer got to go down and watch the manic unfold on the trade floor on the day the Brexit vote – it was very surreal.

Work aside, living in London was amazing. There was so much to see and do, and we had a few weekends away around Europe. There were six of us over there and we had one of the best experiences of our lives. I would go back in a heartbeat.

What’s the one thing that has surprised you most about the course?
BIS definitely has a name for being a bit of a clique (in a good way!). I did not expect to become so close with so many people in my year as well as with people in other years. That is just the way BIS is.

As we spend so much time in the labs working on group projects everyone gets to know everyone from first year on which is important from a college experience perspective.

Also, as the fourth years tutor the years below them it creates a more interactive and relaxed learning experience for the younger students and gives them the opportunity to talk to other years about their experience.

Our ball is also very good every year – so thank you to the BIS Society who organise that!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
The job prospects that are available to BIS studies are extremely varied, from application developers to analysts and consultants, many of which offer you the opportunity to travel. These careers can bring you all around the world and I hope that in five years I’ll be working abroad in one of these roles. I would love to go to San Francisco.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
If you have any interest in technology and you like working in teams on projects I would recommend you do BIS! You do not have to be overly tech savvy, but having an interest in how things work, innovation and the industry itself is a great start.

“You never know what one little conversation will lead too.”

stephen-laneA short conversation with a lecturer when in 4th year lead BIS graduate Stephen Lane to his role today as a software developer on the PiNPoINT research project in the Infant Research Centre in UCC.

Why did you do BIS?
The reason why I did BIS was both straightforward and complex at the same time. I was in 6th year and had no idea what I wanted to do and was being told do things I had no interest in. When it came to filling out my CAO I knew a little about BIS because my sister had finished BIS so I thought why not give it a go considering I loved technology. A decision I have never looked back on.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
The best thing I got out of the course was an invaluable well rounded skill set and friends for life. Having both family and friends that have done different courses both in UCC and other colleges, there are very few who can say they have friends for life from college, let alone a skill set that allows them pretty much do anything they want, wherever they want.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
For my work placement, I chose to stay in Cork and got placement in Core HR in Ballincollig. This was a great experience where I developed my coding skills further and learnt new skills I didn’t even know I needed.

Where are you now?
Currently I am working in the Infant Research Centre in UCC as a software developer on the PiNPoINT research project.

How did you get this job?
It’s a very interesting story. It goes back as far as a conversation I had with a lecturer before a lecture one day when he asked what I was doing job wise after 4th year. We spoke briefly about me wanting to stay in Cork and he said he might know someone who might be interested in having a conversation me. This was the start of my career to date.

This conversation led me to work in an edTech research and innovation centre in a small multinational company in Cork which had a very strong relationship with BIS. I worked there for a year as a software developer until an opportunity arose for me to complete a full time funded research masters. This was an opportunity I had always wanted and when it came along with the opportunity for my boss to be one of my supervisors I grabbed it and ran with it.

Whilst completing my masters, my old boss, and now supervisor, was working on a connected health research project in the Infant Research Centre in UCC and the opportunity arose for me to work part-time on this as a software developer whilst completing my masters. It is this that lead me to my current job, as when applying for the job it made the whole process easier.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
Network! You never know what one little conversation will lead too. I put my career to date down to one less than 5-minute conversation.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I have faced is learning to say no to people. Overcoming this is not easy, however I have learnt to prioritise the really important things over somethings that I don’t need to do.

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Looking back at the last few years there is very little I would have done differently as where I am right now I am extremely happy with.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
Just go for it, you will not regret it. What you will learn and the friends you will make will make it worthwhile.

“He who remains hungry will always have the appetite to succeed”

ken-osheaOn completion of his course, BIS graduate Ken O’Shea took up a role as a data analyst with Trend Micro in Cork. He shared his story with us…

Why did you do BIS?
I spoke to a friend that was the year ahead of me around the time the CAO applications were due and he gave me an overview of the course. However, it was when he showed me his VB 6.0 project that I knew I wanted to do BIS. Since then I have spoken to a number of students that were considering BIS and I have promoted the mix of business and technology that the course gives each and every student.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
This is a tough question to answer as I feel that I have gained quite a lot as a result of completing BIS.  If I had to choose only one thing it would be that the course is held in high regard and companies view BIS graduates as “all-rounders” rather than just being pegged into a specific bracket. This really gives you the confidence to apply for any job.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
I worked for AXA-Equitable in New York/ New Jersey. My internship was spent in the Project Portfolio Management department where I was mentored by a business analyst. The role required me to work predominantly with SharePoint, Excel and the local PPM tool which was used primarily to track ongoing cases and projects at various stages. I created a user manual for the tool and built reports to highlight case productivity.

Where are you now?
I have been working in Trend Micro in Cork since July 2014 as a data analyst. However, I have also been doubling up as a resource for the BI team. This has enabled me to add a whole host of skills to my repertoire that I may not have had the opportunity to at another company. The company culture is fantastic and very welcoming to any new starter.

How did you get this job?
I landed the role on the back of completing my masters in BIS in UCC. I had been looking for entry level jobs in the data analysis and data science fields and came across the position on LinkedIn. After reviewing the job spec I spoke to a friend of mine that used to work for Trend Micro and he told me that it was a great place to work. A few interviews later and I had the job.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
One of my friends once told me to remember how hard I fought to get the job, how much I wanted the position, and to treat the position with the same amount of enthusiasm every day. For me this has always been a source of motivation as he who remains hungry will always have the appetite to succeed.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
For me it is probably knowing when to pull back. I like to take on almost any challenge. While being enthusiastic can be a great quality, it can also lead to you taking on more than you are capable of due to time restrictions, and can sometimes run the risk of interfering with your personal life. I have been quite fortunate that I have my boss to remind me when I have enough on my plate and that sometimes it is okay to say no (I still hate saying it though).

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Not at all. Character is developed over time and I believe that mistakes or experiences shape you for the better over time.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
I feel that there is a lot of pressure on students to pick a course based on the number of points they get in the Leaving Cert. A lot of people I know who received very high marks felt the need to apply for medicine, dentistry or pharmacy. Then after completing the course or dropping out, they have then gone in a completely different direction with their careers. I would like to encourage people to follow their interests because if you choose a job you love you will never have to work a day in your life.