Before you started at Queen's, where were you and what were you doing?
I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do. That’s where the careers centre was useful in giving literature, showing case studies and “A Day in the Life Of” info. I talked my way into a sponsorship so I had work before QUB and during the summer. That was huge. I recommend looking for internships and the like as early as possible. Summer jobs are a clear differentiator to employers. Alumni are keen to help in this regard. Use friends and family connections.
Where are you now?
Just outside NYC. I spent 1/3 of my life in Belfast; 1/3 in England; 1/3 in the US. Worked a variety of industries and multinationals before ending up as a consultant on Wall Street. These days I provide mentoring and use my connections all over the world.
How did you get there?
Lifelong learning is key. I struggled at QUB, but learned how to ask questions. That curiosity or thirst for knowledge leads to skills development and confidence. In my experience, branching out was important. Create your own path but tap into other people’s ideas. Listening is a learned skill. Seek out mentors and sponsors who know who to ask. Get involved in setting-up conferences – that worked for me to find out what was new in the industry.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s
The best 3 days of my 3 years at QUB was an “Insight Into Management” course run by the Careers folks. First real experience working in multi-disciplinary teams and I’ve used that experience daily for the next 30 years! I can’t stress enough the importance of real-world experience and team leadership for career success.
Advice for current Queen's students?
Belfast is renowned for ship building. Go build some ships! I benefitted from apprenticeship, internship and mentorship. Business is all about relationship. Pre-empt the customer or interviewer’s question by saying “Here, let me show you…”. Seek new opportunities – travel broadens the mind; look for ways to connect customers; start something new!