MSc Software Development
Before starting at Queen’s, I was living in Dublin and working as a freelance classical musician / arts administrator / teacher / web designer. My day to day activity was highly varied, involving performing in venues / studios throughout the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as working as an Artistic Assessor for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. I also taught brass students at the University of Ireland, Maynooth, lead a successful brass chamber group, and ran a digital consultancy, MySize9s, working on individual / organisational digital footprint and product design. Although I had worked successfully for over 15 years in the arts, my application to Queen’s was motivated by both the opportunity to take up employment offering more security, as well as to work in a sector that utilises and helps me to develop all of my skills.
What have you done in addition to your degree to enhance your employability and what do you feel you’ve gained from this?
During my time at Queen’s, I have pursued extracurricular course related activities such as the AllState NI Connected Car Hackathon 2014 (runner up). I have also worked closely with the Career Guidance office, not only attending regular sessions put on specifically for the MSc, but consulting them directly with regards to CV preparation, attendance at employer events and specific employer requirements / preferences / values.
I attended as many employer events as possible in autumn / winter 2014, including those held by Liberty IT, Citi, Deloitte Consulting, BT, CCEA and Rapid 7. As a result, I applied early to graduate intake programmes and participated in multiple assessment centres, online tests and interviews, culminating in an offer of a Graduate place with Deloitte’s Belfast Technology Consulting.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s
All of my interactions with Career Guidance were of invaluable help & support as I participated in employer intake processes. Although there is a wealth of information online regarding specific employer requirements, the Career Guidance staff were in direct contact with recruiters and had specific information and resources for each prospective employer which helped with every application and assessment process. In addition, they were always positive, supportive, helpful and ready to offer advice either in person or electronically.
Any advice for other Queen's students?
University students are in the enviable position of being able to combine their natural interests / aptitude with the pursuit of knowledge, skills, personal growth and ultimately employment. Postgraduate students on a course like the MSc are, in my opinion, best served by connecting the academic to the real world and by meeting people in the workplace to gauge their response to transferrable skills, past experiences and aspirations. Although the course itself provides a new and highly specific skillset, conversion students have an added USP in that they offer employers a wealth of qualities alongside technical training. These qualities can be summed up under the general category of interpersonal and life skills, both of which I have found to be highly valued by prospective employers.