By Kirsty Hilliard, Higher Diploma in Applied Computing Technology, 2014
My initial qualification was a degree in Archaeology from UCC. I graduated into the beginning of the economic downturn in 2008 only to find that the Archaeological industry had collapsed alongside the construction industry. I subsequently found a management level position in retail and worked for several big names over the next few years. There was a lot of competition for higher level management jobs and I moved to the UK in the hopes of getting more experience over there. My partner was offered a great opportunity back here in Ireland so we came home again and I found it very difficult to re-enter the workforce, even at entry level positions, as there were so many people desperate for work for after years of recession.
There seemed to be a lot of articles and reports on the news that IT based industries had more vacancies than they had qualified people applying for them so I looked at ways of breaking into that sector. I started a Java programming course and soon after discovered the UCC H-Dip program that was starting in September. I told one of my friends about it at the course to see if she would be interested and we both applied and got in.
What had interested me in the UCC H-Dip was the range of different topics that it covered, there were many areas one could branch out from, rather than being cornered into one specialisation right from the start. We learned basic scripts and commands for operating systems and Networks, good for administration, programming in several languages, which helps not only your CV but improve ones won logical reasoning skills. We also covered modules in Databases and Excel which are multi-industry essentials these days.
Aside from the study, the people I met during my year were one of the best parts. The Lecturers were very understanding and always willing to answer questions or explain something again, you could really tell that they wanted us to do well. I always found them to be very encouraging about getting into the industry and they pointed out practices that would be helpful out in the ‘real-world’ whenever we came across one. I consider myself extremely lucky in the classmates that I had. There was always a great atmosphere in the Lab and we worked well together making sure no-one was struggling on anything. I think it helped that we were all relatively mature, having done college already and worked for a few years, not to mention that we all came in with the same goal of getting into IT so we were all serious about doing well.
After an intense year, just before my exams I was offered a place on the Graduate program for Lidl in the IT stream which was a huge weight off my shoulders and an affirmation of sorts for taking on the course in the first place. Currently I am doing my 6 month rotation in the Service and Support division of the IT department and I sometimes surprise myself at what I know and can do as a result of the H-Dip. I work with a lot of specialists and it is very handy for me to have the range of knowledge I do when troubleshooting a problem as I can see things from multiple directions not just one.
I’m working on a couple of projects at the moment and the biggest one we face is changing how our employees work on a daily basis. Currently they are reliant on excel and it’s not quite meeting our business needs, so I have been charged with developing suitable Databases with a Java based front end to help make their life easier and their work faster by taking the weight off their laptop processors, all thanks to what was written on my CV under this course!