Eoghan Ahern is a current student in the Higher Certificate in Computer Science at Griffith College Limerick. Before joining Griffith College, Eoghan spent eight years as a non-commissioned officer of the Irish Defence Forces. Here’s a look at Eoghan’s experience of making a career move and where he hope it will lead once he graduates.
How did you find returning to education?
I found it extremely challenging at first being a mature student. Knowing what I had to do while wondering was I able to do it was not that easy to deal with. I was so afraid of failing (like I did the first time around, studying hotel and catering management in Galway). Thankfully through the help of my course director Bridget Murphy and co. in the Limerick campus I quickly found my feet not to mention asking 1000 questions in class. I quickly realised that I just needed to study and do that extra bit more than everyone else. It paid off. All the extra days in college were worth it when I received my summer exam results… I knew that second year was going to be no problem.
How do you find juggling the course with your personal life?
After I figured out that college was not going to be as hard as I had imagined, the biggest hurdle that I encountered was the financial hardship. When I took my leave of absence from the army I also left the wages that I had become accustomed to behind. At one stage I was working two part-time jobs at the same time just to cover the bills. In Griffith College I was not entitled to any grants even though I was on a scholarship. Probably one of the hardest things from this whole experience would be getting loans to cover bills from my family and my now fiancée. I have always worked from the age of 17 so taking loans I knew I could not pay back was a big challenge for me and my pride :). In relation to my fiancée, Ruth, she just kept pushing me on through the deadlines and working stupid hours, took my bad moods when the pressure was on and cooked me dinners. In short she was my rock.
Did you find it difficult to secure the internship with Dell?
My course director Bridget Murphy set up interviews for us with Dell... I must say I just had to prep my CV and show up for the interview. I think the time spent in the Army was in my favour going into the interview. I have the gift of the gab and I really wanted a position in Dell so I sold myself in that interview. I knew just like everyone else what they were looking for as I had done my research and had an answer for every question they threw at me… so no, it did not seem hard :). I hope that that does not come across as cocky.
Is everyone in your programme happily in a work placement?
Yes I believe that they are all in placement.
Did the College help at all to secure your work placement?
Yes very much so. Bridget Murphy set up the interviews
How long does the Dell intern programme run?
It runs for eight to nine months depending when you start.
Do you know what percentage of interns goes on to get jobs with Dell after graduation?
The percentage is quite high depending on the roles available. However, if they want to keep you and there is no role at the end of the internship the interns are the first called for an interview.
Are there any other Griffith interns or grads at Dell?
Yes there is a grad who just started who was an intern last summer. A position was also offered to another Griffith college student but she turned it down to work for Johnson & Johnson.
Would there be an opportunity in the Defense Forces to use the skillset and learning or is it more for the business sector?
No, the army would love to retain me when I finish my degree. But the whole point of going back to college was to leave the army.
Have your studies prepared you for what you’re doing at Dell?
Yes all my coding lectures put me in good shape when I had to learn c# (a new language). Also my business modules helped me out to a degree.
What could help you to be better prepared either academically or professionally?
Professionally I think I learn faster on the job then I do studying.
What else could you have learned to date from Griffith to help you be prepared?
I don’t think this is applicable as I already had life experience so I knew what had to be done once on my internship.
Do you know what type of work you’d like to do post-graduation?
I think data analytics is the road I want to go down when I am finished, but of course I’ll be happy to have any job really. A close favourite would be systems architect.
Do you think the course will be beneficial to you and indeed the defence forces when/if you return?
If I was to return to the defence force it would benefit them as they have not had to pay for my education. As my boss tells me the degree is just a ticket to get an interview so of course it will benefit me :).
Are you staying connected with any Griffith students or alumni?
Yes I am connected with alumni.
Thanks again to Eoghan for taking the time to answer my questions! If you would like to be interviewed, or know a Griffith College student or graduate who would make for an interesting interview, please drop me a line. Please join the Griffith Alumni Network now!