“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.

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“I was offered a graduate role off the back of my placement”

BIS graduate Laura Kennedy recently returned to UCC to speak to students at the Autumn Open Day. We had a chat to her about her BIS experience, and how it has led to her current role in Global Markets IT at Credit Suisse, London.

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Why did you do BIS?
After deciding I didn’t want to pursue a career in acting or theatre, I went looking for the right ‘business’ course I wanted to study. I heard about a course that offered a mix of business and IT and it sounded really appealing. I hadn’t a clue about computers or anything ‘tech-y’ (we still had dial-up internet at home), but I was fascinated by how the internet could connect us to people on the other side of the world in real-time and I was keen to learn more.

I attended the BIS talk at the UCC Open Day and there were two graduates speaking who were now working in San Francisco and from that point on I was sold. One other reason that I chose BIS was at the time I figured technology was only going to become more prevalent and play a more significant role in terms of how we get things done, how we go about our day to day lives, and so I figured it was a good area to build up some skills and knowledge.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
Two stand-out things – the lifelong friends I have made, and the transferrable skillset.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
Credit Suisse, London, working as a business analyst on a Monte Carlo Risk Simulation.

Where are you now?
Credit Suisse, London. I am in my 3rd business analyst role here now. I have worked in Operations IT, Risk and Finance IT, and I’m now working in Global Markets IT looking at algorithmic trading of equities and FX.

How did you get this job?
Surprise surprise as I’m still here since placement, I got this job through BIS. I had my first introduction to Credit Suisse in 1st year when I attended a lecture by a senior female director from CS. After that, I was determined that I was going to get myself to London and into the company. In 2nd year I applied for their IT Spring Week Program after attending a networking event hosted in UCC by CS, and my application was successful. Following the one week spring internship in London I was fast-tracked onto their placement program hence completing my 3rd year placement here, and subsequently I was offered a graduate role off the back of my placement.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
I once heard someone say “hold yourself to a level of understanding” and that’s really stuck with me. If I don’t understand something I’ll ask and ask again. I would also say that building a network of contacts, as opposed to acquaintances, is really important and its advice I’ve been given by many people.

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I don’t’ think so. If I could go back to being in the labs again for the laugh we had, I’d be there in a second!

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
Go for it! BIS is a fantastic course with global opportunities and multiple career possibilities – you won’t regret it!

Shape the direction your study from early on with BIS

Emmet O'ShaughnessyFinal year BIS student Emmet O’Shaughnessy is looking to go down the business path rather than the development path in terms of his career. He explains how this has come about here…

Why did you do BIS?
As secondary school came to an end for me and I finished the Leaving Cert, I was still very unsure of what I wanted to study in college. For the entirety of 6th year I had Genetics down for my first choice on the CAO form, but two days before the deadline in July I made the decision to choose BIS. Looking back on it now, it has to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I had always enjoyed Business Studies in school and my family owns a number of small businesses so I knew it was something I wanted to pursue as a career.  The only reason I had Genetics down originally was because I liked Biology in school, but after learning about BIS from a close friend’s brother, Eoghan I was very happy with my choice. After talking to Eoghan, who had recently graduated from BIS and was already working with a large bank in London, I knew BIS had so much to offer me.  Along with the great job prospects for graduates; the six month placement, getting a great mix of IT and business skills, and the friendly welcoming atmosphere of the course were things that really appealed to me.

What is the best thing you have got out of the course so far?
There is no question that my six month placement in New York has been the best experience of the course so far. I got the opportunity to work with Credit Suisse, one of the world’s top private investment banks in their office located in Mid-town Manhattan and it was truly an amazing experience. Having the opportunity to live and work abroad at such a young age thanks to BIS is really one of the biggest selling points of the course for me. I don’t think any other course comes close to the number and quality of the placement companies that students get to choose from and gain invaluable work experience at before they leave college. I gained great professional experience while living in New York and got to experience everything the city had to offer, as well as getting to travel to cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Vancouver, San Francisco and Las Vegas with my friends from BIS.

What’s the one thing that has surprised you most about the course?
The first  thing that surprised me about BIS was how fast all the students become integrated into the course and how BIS classes tend to be much closer than other courses in UCC. From the beginning it was very easy to get to know people and make friends within the course and I believe this is due to the very welcoming atmosphere fostered in BIS.

Another thing that surprised me about the course is how many subjects are offered to students throughout the four years. If you do not like a particular aspect of the course you can start to shape the direction of study from early on to subjects you are interested in, whether it’s down the development path or business path. Another advantage of this is that if you are unsure of which path you want to go down you get a great mix of both aspects without limiting yourself to just one.

One more thing to add is how manageable the course was for me. The hours of lectures and labs, along with some projects/ exams, aren’t too bad compared to some of the other courses and I was able to work during my first three years of college to support myself during the college year, and got to travel during the summer months as a result.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I would hope to have had a successful start to my professional career and have myself well established in a good company with the ability to start to climbing the corporate ladder.  I do not want to rush into the working life straight after I finish college as I wish to do some more travelling, but I can see myself returning to the US when I do decide to look for a job. I’m sure if I work hard enough for my final year and use everything that BIS had thought me I will have a great chance of being employed anywhere in the world.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
The one piece of advice I have for anyone considering doing BIS would be to talk to anyone who is currently studying the course or has graduated from the course. After a talk with someone from BIS about their experience, you will get a really good feel for the course and everything it has to offer.