Grace McSorley is a final year student who had the opportunity to attend a placement at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Here is what she had to say about her time there!
“Last month, I had the opportunity to complete a study abroad placement in Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and it was an amazing experience. The course, ‘Exploring Data through Culture’, was a great learning opportunity and it provided me with the chance to learn several new softwares, whilst equipping me with a range of new data skills and techniques.
One of the highlights was the chance to work alongside a brilliant group of students and lecturers from across the world. The team collaboration was fantastic, and together we presented a research project investigating the rise of Chat GPT and natural language processing AI within education. The insights, skills and experiences I have gained from the Summer School will be invaluable as I commence my final year of university.
Every year, Queen’s Global Opportunities offer students the chance to participate in The Think Pacific programme. They have a chance to tackle global issues and achieve real outcomes for our partners in Fiji. Chelsie Haddock was among the successful applicants to the programme. Chelsie took part in the Think Pacific Programme spending a month working on a community build in Namau, Fiji. Here is her experience:
Sota tale Fiji! (See you again, Fiji!)
This was the most unforgettable experience with the most amazing people. Throughout the month of June, I was grateful enough to work alongside volunteers from the Think Pacific Programme as well as the Fijian youth of Namau to build and produce a health dispensary within the village of Namau.
Workers on site of the health dispensary in NamauConstruction of the health dispensary in Namau
During this time, I was also welcomed into a wonderful family who I am now blessed to call my own. This experience was truly a once in a lifetime blessing. I fully embraced the Fijian culture and loved every second of the culture classes that we also took part in. This included, trying new foods and learning how to cook some of the traditional meals. I built rafts, attended church services and learned Fijian songs. I learned about the history of Fiji and the village of Namau. I also performed traditional dances, ‘mekes’ which was my favourite part as we performed them as a family.
This adventure has been so surreal, all thanks to the village of Namau, who warmly welcomed us into their village and treated us as their own from the very start. Your culture and stories will never be forgotten, and I cannot wait to go back in the future!
Queen’s Master’s student Mohit Khandare visited Graham Construction as part of our Work Shadowing programme – an experience which eventually helped land him a graduate role as an Assistant Planner with the company. Here, he shares his story.
Every year the Careers, Employability and Skills team at Queen’s run a Work Shadowing Week 2023. The programme is an opportunity for students to get a taste of what it’s like to work in their target industry. Students spend a day shadowing professionals which helps bring a job to life and helping students to decide if a particular career is right for them. Observing professionals in the work place not only provides an early career insight, it also serves as a valuable networking platform – as Master’s student Mohit Khandare discovered when he visited Graham Construction during Work Shadowing Week.
‘I was impressed with the team’s commitment to quality
“I had the pleasure of visiting the GRAHAM Interior Fit-Out division working on the Belfast City Quays 3 site doing interior fit-out for Microsoft, B-Secur, and Aflac Northern Ireland and was thoroughly impressed with their project management and attention to detail.
“I was fascinated by the 360° view from the 12th floor, where one could see GRAHAM’s projects, which are either completed and running or in the completion phase. From partnering with global technology giants to household names in fashion, GRAHAM listens to its clients to deliver cost-effective outcomes, no matter how challenging the project may be. “I was particularly impressed with the team’s ability to creatively implement solutions that reduce cost, drive efficiency, and ensure timely delivery. Their commitment to quality and attention to detail was evident in every aspect of the interior fit-out projects I observed.
“Additionally, GRAHAM Group’s focus on structured growth and developing its interior fit-out scope indicates that they are constantly looking for ways to improve their operations and overcome any obstacles they may encounter. The visit also highlighted the importance of coordination and communication among the different trades to ensure a successful outcome.”
‘The team were happy to share their experiences and insights with me’
Having been impressed with the company, Mohit used the opportunity to make vital connections with the professionals he was shadowing. “During my visit, I had the opportunity to speak with members of the GRAHAM’s interior fit-out team and who took time out of their busy schedule to share valuable insights about the company, and on the division’s operations. They were knowledgeable and passionate about their work, and they were happy to share their experiences and insights with me. They also highlighted the importance of innovative design, value-added construction, and on-time completion, which
are all hallmarks of GRAHAM’s approach to project management. I learned a lot about the interior fit-out industry and the challenges and opportunities that come with it.
“My visit to the GRAHAM was a truly enlightening experience and an excellent opportunity to learn about the complexities of construction projects and the skills required to manage them successfully.”
“Thanks to Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s for giving me the opportunity to learn and gain this wonderful experience under the shadow of elite construction industry professionals.”
Taking the next step
Armed with an insight into the company, it’s values and operations, Mohit was in an advantageous position when it came to applying for a job as Assistant Planner with the company.
“I am excited to begin my journey as an Assistant Planner at GRAHAM Group’s Interior Fit-Out Division, a company known for its exceptional attention to detail and high-quality solutions in the UK and Ireland.
“As I embark on this new chapter, I can’t help but reflect on the challenges I faced during my time at Queen’s.
“It was a pivotal part of my educational journey, providing me with a global perspective that I will carry forward throughout my career.
“However, it was not without its difficulties. Adapting to a new environment, overcoming language barriers, and navigating cultural differences were just a few of the obstacles I encountered. Through determination and resilience, I was able to overcome these challenges and thrive during those tough times.
“As I begin my new role at GRAHAM, I am eager to apply the skills and knowledge I gained during my time at Queen’s and contribute to the company’s success.
“Thanks to the team at Careers, Employability and Skills for their never ending support and motivation throughout the journey at Queen’s.
“As I take on my new responsibilities as an Assistant Planner, I am eager to learn and grow in this role. I am confident that with the support of the team at GRAHAM we will achieve great success together.”
Claudine Sutherland an Employer Engagement Consultant from Careers, Employability and Skills who runs Work Shadowing Week says: “Work Shadowing Week brings students and employers together in a meaningful way which can be so beneficial as Mohit’s story demonstrates. Mohit had a fantastic experiential day and it’s great news that he has now landed a role as an Assistant Planner as a result.”
Kate studied an MSc in Management at Queen’s University Belfast from 2020-21. She is now based in London working as a Senior Marketing Executive at HeadBox, a digital platform for booking meetings and events.
What course did you study at QUB?
I studied for my MSc in Management in 2020-21.
Did you use your careers service at university?
Yes, I had a couple of sessions over Zoom to help with CV prep. I wasn’t too sure how to best present my skills and experience, so I found these really valuable.
How did you find your current role?
I found it via a job site called Otta that specialises in jobs in tech startups.
Why did you decide to work at HeadBox?
I chose the Consultancy Based Report option for my dissertation as I was keen to get hands-on experience with a real company. Throughout this project, I explored techniques for marketing a social enterprise company (Restorify) in Northern Ireland’s start-up sector, which quite naturally led me to explore marketing roles in a start-up company.
I was initially drawn to apply to HeadBox as it sounded like an interesting role in a fast-growing company where I could gain a lot of experience. I particularly liked how the job description encouraged people to apply if they had no previous marketing experience but felt they would be well-suited for the role.
After a number of interviews, I had a good sense that this was a company I wanted to work for. I had experience working in hospitality and organising several events during my undergrad at university. During COVID, I was impressed by businesses that adapted their models overnight such as local companies that
began delivering or hosting online events. HeadBox was using technology to help different venues adapt their space which drew me in further. I really liked everyone I spoke to during the interview process and felt I’d be a good fit.
Since leaving university, how did you get to this point in your career?
I studied Law for my undergrad at Trinity College Dublin, then spent a few years doing a mix of travelling and working in law firms in Belfast and New York. However, I knew I didn’t really want to continue with law as my career. COVID hit while I was working as a paralegal in New York, so I decided to return home to Belfast.
I applied for the MSc in Management at Queen’s as it was a broad degree in which I could explore different areas of business and find out what I was interested in. I really enjoyed all the modules, but particularly marketing, and learned a lot from the Consultancy Based Report. I accepted my job at HeadBox in October 2021 and worked remotely from Belfast for a few months before moving to London, and have been here since.
What is it like working for a start-up company?
I think having direct access to senior-level colleagues such as your COO and CEO is a fantastic experience for anyone at any level. It really embraces the human side of a company that you don’t get at some larger places. The high-energy, fast-paced and forward-thinking environment is exciting and I found it really easy to get used to. The flexibility and desire to succeed in the business is engaging and exciting to be a part of! It will bring out your innovative and creative side and it’s a great opportunity to rise to any challenges.
What advice would you give to students looking to work for a startup?
Think about what industries spark your interest. Is it fintech, sports, fashion? There are lots of cool companies that are disrupting traditional industries and passion goes a long way in start-ups. Once you’re in, get stuck in and learn as
much as you can. I would recommend being proactive, taking online courses and going to networking events. Ask plenty of questions.
With any job, not just a startup, you get out what you put in. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and throw yourself into the role.
What kind of roles do you see available in the startup industry?
The great thing about working in a start-up is the sheer breadth of roles available. At HeadBox we do pretty much everything in-house, which means that the office is a melting pot of product designers, sales executives, accountants, marketers and, of course, event professionals. The diversity of roles rewards so many different university degrees, and gives you the chance to learn from people who may have studied something totally different from you.
My name is Savannah Dodd, I’ve studied for my PhD in Anthropology, that’s in the School of HAPP and I am the founder and director of the Photography Ethics Centre.
Tell us a bit more about your business idea.
I’m passionate about photography ethics because photographs are immensely powerful. They shape how we think about the world and this means that when we take and share photographs, we are shaping how others think about the world. So this is, like, a huge amount of power that we have as image makers and this power comes with a lot of responsibility, so I think it’s really important to think about ‘how can we use that power of image making responsibly?’ and I think a really good way of doing so is to think about it through the lens of ethics.
How did you get the initial business idea?
I founded the Photography Ethics Centre because I realised that my background in anthropology and the things that I’d learned through doing a Masters, and now a PhD in Anthropology has really prepared me with an important set of skills and these skills have helped me be more effective in my photography and more ethical about how I approach my photographic practice. So, I realised that anthropology has helped me a lot with my photography with building skills, but these skills that I’ve built are not universal. So, what I’m really trying to do is to sort of translate these skills that I gained from anthropology and make it applicable and useful for photographers who might not have the same background.
How has the business developed since your initial idea?
In some ways, not a lot has changed with the organisation since I started and in some ways, it’s changed a lot. I think the biggest change has been, really, in terms of my expectations. I think I needed to temper some of my expectations, but that’s not always easy when we’re participating in a culture of startup pitching because you really have to think in terms of best-case scenarios. So, I think tempering my expectations and maybe being happy with smaller, more marginal successes was really important. I think, on the other hand, things haven’t changed a lot because I, sort of, have come full circle back into my original idea which, I think, the lesson there is just that I need to trust my gut a little bit more.
What activities at Queen’s helped you get to where you are?
I was really fortunate that when I first had the idea for the Photography Ethics Centre, I was able to participate as part of a cohort of students to do a Kickstarter Accelerator programme through the Graduate School at Queen’s and that was just a really great opportunity to, sort of, spend time on business development with some support. I was also accepted into Dragon’s Den one year and that was a brilliant opportunity, really great practice at building my confidence and pitching and it’s just always been really beneficial to know that there’s somewhere that I can go for advice because, inevitably, I’ve run into hurdles or questions that I haven’t known how to answer so it’s been great to have the resource at Queen’s.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I think the most important piece of advice that I wish I’d had when I was first starting out is that, you know, blocking out time for other things in your life or taking breaks or relaxing on the weekends or in the evenings is that’s not a reward but that’s an important part of how you divide your time. I think by not taking time for myself to really recharge, to relax to, sort of, put the laptop away really lead me to a bit of a burnout so I think that really the biggest, biggest lesson I learned there is that, you know, breaks are not treats, you deserve them, inherently, you don’t have to earn them.
What Course did you graduate from in QUB? Chemical Engineering (MEng)
What made you choose this Course? Science was always something that intrigued me through my school years. This course would give me the opportunity to learn how science and maths could be transitioned into the working world, creating innovative solutions to real life problems.
What was your favourite subject and why? Maths closely followed by physics and chemistry. These subjects heavily relied on applying theory to problem solve and I loved the challenge. The sciences allowed me to work with various equipment and new technologies which always kept my interest.
How long have you worked with PDP? Into my 4th year now. Scary how time passes by.
How did you hear of PDP? I heard through my university peers that a company was giving interviews for students to work in Canada on a vaccine manufacturing facility. As I learned more about the opportunity it became evident it was something that would push me out of my comfort zone and provide further career prospects. I moved to Toronto and never looked back.
What have been the highlights of your career to date? Working in Biopharma has been very meaningful as I know my work is contributing to a greater purpose. Working on a Covid-19 vaccine project whilst going through the pandemic only emphasized how important the work is. It continues to be an incredibly rewarding learning experience. Another highlight has been the network of talented people I have had the privilege to work with. My PDP peers have been invaluable in my development, allowing me to gain and share knowledge that have helped form my contribution to projects as well as my career path. Beyond my work, travelling overseas to projects has allowed me to go on new adventures and immerse myself in different cultures. Plenty of skiing has also certainly been welcomed.
What projects have you been involved in with PDP? I spent 2 years on a vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, Canada where I was a CQ owner of Fermentation systems and also involved in utilities. I have since moved to Switzerland, Visp on another vaccine project, notably working on a COVID-19 vaccine as a utilities CQV Engineer. .
Would you recommend working for PDP to a friend and why? Absolutely, there are many opportunities to be made. With an ever growing group of driven individuals you will always have guidance to aid your learning and career. The travel experiences you will gain are an added bonus, and with PDP’s assistance there are many locations and projects to experience.
I wanted to pursue a career that made use of my strengths in science and maths, but also didn’t involve sitting in an office the whole time. I was also interested in the prospects of travelling abroad that the career offered.
What was your favourite subject and why?
I particularly enjoyed group projects where we had to collaborate as a team to design something. Through these I gained confidence that I could take on what challenges I faced in my future career and learnt that engineering is not a solo effort.
How long have you worked with PDP?
For over 3 years.
How did you hear of PDP?
In my final year of university, PDP were looking for graduate CQV Engineers to work on a large vaccine manufacturing project in Toronto, Canada. For me this was an exciting opportunity.
What have been the highlights of your career to date?
Being part of a Covid vaccine project throughout most of its stages was particularly rewarding for me. In the project, I was responsible for a wide range of utility systems and was frequently in the clean rooms where these groundbreaking vaccines would be produced. Naturally, it was a very fast-paced project that sometimes involved longer hours and unique challenges, but it was amazing to see what could be achieved with such a concentrated effort by an extraordinary team.
What projects have you been involved in with PDP?
For the first two years I was part of the Sanofi B100 5-acP/Diptheria/Tetanus vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, Canada. After that I moved to Switzerland to work on a Covid vaccine project in Visp, Switzerland. And recently, I moved onto a much larger project in Visp.
Would you recommend working for PDP to a friend and why
I would recommend PDP to any friend in the industry. During the time I have been working for PDP, they have been growing rapidly and constantly have new projects and new opportunities. All the while, they have continued to put their people first, and I have always felt that they have had my back.
Órnaith Ní Fhearghail is ainm dom agus is mac léinn mé in Ollscoil na Banríona. Tá mé i mbliain na céime, ag déanamh buncéime i gCaidreamh Idirnáisiúnta agus sa Ghaeilge. An seimeastar seo, bhí deis agam modúl úrnua a ghlacadh mar chuid den chúrsa Gaeilge, Gairmeacha le Gaeilge (CEL 3010). Cuireadh an modúl ar fáil den chéad uair riamh i mbliana, agus is iontach an deis í do mhic léinn a bhfuil suim acu a bheith ag obair trí mheán na Gaeilge sa todhchaí.
Gach Aoine, téann an rang uilig ar thaithí oibre sna háiteanna éagsúla atá roghnaithe againn, agus gach coicís, bíonn seimineár againn le comhordaitheoir an mhodúil, Dr. Síobhra Aiken. Sna seimineáir seo, bíonn plé á dhéanamh againn faoin taithí oibre go dtí seo, faoi dheiseanna fostaíochta atá ann agus an Ghaeilge agat (mar shampla, bhí ceardlann faoin aistriúchán againn leis an Dr. Órla Nic Ruairí, a oibríonn san Aontas Eorpach), agus faoi na scileanna éagsúla a bhaineann leis an domhan ghairmiúil.
An próiseas cuardaigh
I rith an tsamhraidh, bhí ar an rang uilig ár dtaithí oibre féin a eagrú go neamhspleách le gnó éigin a mbaintear úsáid as an Ghaeilge ann mar theanga oibre. D’aistrigh mé mo CV ón Bhéarla go dtí an Ghaeilge agus sheol mé ríomhphoist chuig áiteanna oibre éagsúla a raibh suim agam a bheith ag obair iontu, agus murar sheol siad freagra chugam, chuir mé scairt orthu. Ba thaithí ar leith í an próiseas cuardaigh féin, agus bhí sé tábhachtach a bheith daingean.
Sa deireadh, shocraigh mé le Raidió Fáilte – an stáisiún lán-Ghaeilge atá lonnaithe i mBéal Feirste – go ndéanfainn mo thaithí oibre leo.
Raidió Fáilte – cad chuige?
Roghnaigh mé Raidió Fáilte toisc go bhfuil suim ar leith agam sna meáin, agus chun fáil amach an bhfuil oiriúnach do phost sna meáin Ghaeilge. Anuas air sin, ní raibh mórán muiníne agam as mo chuid Gaeilge labhartha, agus b’iarracht í an taithí oibre seo feabhas a chur uirthi.
An sórt taithí a fhaighim
Níl mo thréimhse i Raidió Fáilte críochnaithe go fóill, ach fuair mé neart deiseanna agus traenála ann cheana féin. Bhí mé beo ar an aer mar agallaí dhá uair sa chéad lá a bhí mé ann, baisteadh tine gan amhras! Ach taithí mhaith a bhí ann, agus ón tseachtain sin amach, bíonn seans agam (agus ag an chailín eile atá i mo rang agus a dhéanann a taithí oibre in éineacht liom) a bheith ar an aer i rith an chláir ‘Beo ar Maidin’. Ar dtús, bhí muidne mar agallaithe, ach le déanaí bhí deis againn a bheith inár n-agallóirí – bhí sé sin i bhfad níos deacra, ach ba thaithí thábhachtach í, más rud é go mbeidh mé ag leanúint ar aghaidh le cúrsaí na meán amach anseo. Is deis foghlama í gach aon mheancóg a dhéanaim!
Chuir mé mo chlár ceoil féin le chéile fosta – d’fhoghlaim mé caidé mar a bhaintear úsáid as na cnaipí uilig agus as an chóras atá in úsáid ar ríomhairí an stáisiúin. Ní shílim go bhfuil mórán suime agam sna gnéithe teicniúla sin, ach tá sé riachtanach an buneolas sin a bheith agam, agus úsáideach, cinnte. Bíonn mórán saoirse agam mo smaointe féin a fhorbairt maidir le cláir; faoi láthair tá mé ag obair ar chlár a chuir mé le chéile liom féin faoi roinnt ceoltóirí Éireannacha éagsúla a bhfuil Gaeilge acu (mar sin bhí siad ábalta agallaimh a dhéanamh liom). Ba mhaith liom clár eile a dhéanamh faoi thionchairí na Gaeilge chomh maith, ach seans mór nach mbeidh an t-am agam roimh chríoch mo thréimhse i Raidió Fáilte.
Tairbhe an mhodúil
Tá mórán buntáistí a bhaineann leis an mhodúl seo. Mar a luaigh mé thuas, bíonn neart deiseanna foghlama ar fáil san áit féin a ndéanann tú do thaithí oibre ann, agus faigheann tú léargas ar an tslí bheatha a bhfuil suim agat inti. Sna ceardlanna, faigheann tú léargas ar shlite beatha eile nach mbaineann leis an taithí oibre atá roghnaithe agat, ach, b’fhéidir, a bhfuil suim éigin agat iontu. Is féidir leat tuairim níos feasaí a bheith agat, mar thoradh, faoi na poist a bheidh uait amach anseo.
Bíonn deiseanna aga naisc a chruthú, fosta, le daoine ón phobal Ghaelach a mbuaileann tú leo i rith na taithí oibre. Ní hamháin go bhfuil na naisc sin úsáideach faoi láthair agus mise mar bhall de choiste an Chumainn Ghaelaigh, ach beidh sé tábhachtach amach anseo gan aon agó.
My name is Órnaith Ní Fhearghail and I’m a student at Queen’s. I’m in the final year of my undergraduate degree in International Relations and Irish. This semester, I had the opportunity to take a brand new module as part of my Irish course, Gairmeacha le Gaeilge (Professions in Irish; CEL 3010). The module was made available for the first time ever this year, and it’s an excellent chance for students who are interested in working through the medium of Irish in the future.
Every Friday, the whole class goes on work experience in the various places that they’ve chosen, and every fortnight, we have a seminar with the coordinator of the module, Dr Síobhra Aiken. In these seminars, we discuss our work experience until now, employment opportunities that are available when you can speak Irish (for example, we had a workshop with Dr. Órla Nic Ruairí, who works in the European Union, about translation), and the various skills relating to the professional world.
The searching process
During the summer, we (the class) had to organise our work experience independently, with businesses in which Irish is used as their working language, I translated my CV from English to Irish and sent emails to a variety of workplaces that interested me, and if they didn’t send an answer, I rang them. This searching process was a particular experience in itself, and it was important to be determined.
In the end, I decided with Raidió Fáilte – the Irish-language radio station situated in Belfast – that I would carry out my work experience with them.
Raidió Fáilte – why?
I chose Raidió Fáilte because I have a particular interest in the media, and I was hoping to find out whether I’m suitable for a job in Irish-language media. On top of that, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my spoken Irish, and my work experience was an effort to improve it.
The sort of experience I get
My time at Raidió Fáilte isn’t finished yet, but I’ve already gotten a wealth of opportunities and training. I was live on air as an interviewee twice on my first day there, a baptism of fire without a doubt! However, it was a great experience, and since that week, I get the opportunity to go on air during the programme ‘Beo ar Maidin’ (as does the other girl in my class who does her work experience there with me). At the start, we were the interviewees, but recently we’ve gotten to be interviewers – that was a lot harder, but it was an important experience, if I’m to continue on in the media in the future. Every mistake I make is a learning opportunity!
I put my own music show together as well – I learned how to use the buttons and the sound system that’s used on the station’s computers. I don’t think I have much interest in the technical aspects, but it’s necessary to have that foundational knowledge, and useful, of course. I have a lot of freedom to develop my own ideas relating to shows; at the moment, I’m working on a programme I put together by myself about a few Irish musicians who speak Irish (which meant I was able to interview them). I would like to put a show together about Irish-language influencers, but chances are I won’t have time for that before the end of my time at Raidió Fáilte.
Benefits of the module
This module has a lot of advantages. As I’ve discussed above, a range of learning opportunities are available in the place where you do your work experience, and you can get an insight into the career of your interest. In the seminars and the workshops, you get an insight into the other careers that don’t relate to your work experience but, maybe, still interest you somewhat. You can have a more informed opinion, as a result, about the jobs you’d like down the line.
You get opportunities to create links, too, with people of the Irish community that you meet during your work experience. Not only are these links useful to me right now while I’m a committee member of An Cumann Gaelach, but I have no doubt that they’ll be important to me in the professional world, too.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “It’s a funny thing about comin’ home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realize what’s changed is you.”
Departing London Heathrow, bound for Toronto Pearson.
Canada has always been on my travel list; known for its great outdoors, safe multicultural cosmopolitan cities, and friendly people. Engaging with people who had visited, Canada was always described to me as one of those places thats experience is nearly impossible to describe and after visiting once you’ll want to return.
So when the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship was released, it posed as an opportunity to spend up to 12 weeks researching in a country on my bucket list. And when people ask why I applied, I say why not, because I had so much to gain from this opportunity and little to lose.
I first applied for the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship in 2020 however was unsuccessful in my application. Fortunately, due to a change in my degree programme I became re-eligble to apply and reapplied in August 2021. Receiving, notification in September that my application had been nominated for the programme I began the process of filling out the application form, detailing experience I had gained from work experience the year before and what skills I could bring to the programme. With my application submitted it, I was left to wait to see if any Canadian professors would contact me. I was fortunate to be contacted by two professors in November to further discuss their projects and my suitability.
Outside the engineering building where I spent 10 weeks
By December, I had been selected and confirmed my place on the 2022 Globalink Research Internship.
From January through to departure in May, I organised my flights, housing, visa, starting/ finishing dates for the internship, and a small amount of currency. Connecting with my supervisor during this process made it feel less intimidating as I was able to ask questions or express queries.
Before I knew it May had arrived, and I was stood at the airport waiting to depart on one of my biggest adventures yet. An 8 hour flight, and 2 hour immigration wait later, I was in Toronto.
The first week, I was provided with a tour around the faculty, opened up a bank account, and familiarised myself with the campus. I was able to meet my supervisor and research team in person as well as start on my project. Over the next 10 weeks I was able to develop a general research topic of Micro-structural analysis of advanced composite structures, into a working conference and journal paper focusing on Investigation of impact response of 2D braided hybrid composites using Micro-CT. Throughout the project I was able to develop my knowledge of braided composites, non-destructive analysis, and composite sample manufacturing.
Emily in the lab with a manufactured sample
Alongside researching, I took the time to explore the city of Toronto through events such as Toronto Pride, Canada Day at Woodbine Beach, and a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre. These formed some of the key highlights of my internship in addition to trying different foods and visiting the key tourist attractions such as the CN Tower, Casa Loma, and the Aquarium.
Niagara FallsMusic Garden in Downtown Toronto featuring the CN TowerRogers Centre Home to the Blue Jays Baseball Team
As the end of July approached, I realised I had learnt more, made international friends, gained new experiences, and stepped out of my comfort zone to my growth zone. It’s an experience I will always look back on fondly and would encourage people to take as many opportunities to develop themselves personally and professionally.
Ask for help
Take time to explore where you are, it’s easy to get stuck in work
Keep in contact with your support network back home
Take lots of photos and videos
Plan in advance especially housing, visas, flights, packing.
My name is Eoin Deeney, I’m a Data Privacy Specialist at Baker McKenzie and I studied Law at undergraduate at Queen’s and a postgraduate degree in Law and Governance as well at Queen’s.
Describe your current role.
As part of my current role, I help with the firm’s compliance efforts in the space of data privacy, so that involves working with colleagues across the globe and understanding the data privacy laws and regulations across the world and how the firm can comply with those laws and regulations. I suppose my favourite part of my role is working within the firm itself and the people that I work with across the globe, that they’re globally-minded and like-minded as well and also that it allows me to work in the office with like-minded people but also the ability to work from home and work in a hybrid fashion as well.
How did you get your current role?
After graduating from Queen’s I spent a couple of years in Industry getting experience, which then gave me the opportunity to join Baker McKenzie as a legal professional. Shortly thereafter I became a Team Lead within the Legal Professional team and then I also went to another organisation after that to gain experience in the field of Data Privacy which then prompted the opportunity to return to the firm in my current capacity as a Data Privacy Specialist.
What interview tips do you have for students/ graduates?
The advice I would give to students and graduates when it comes to interviews would be to be themselves, to be authentic and don’t feel that you have to be a certain version or acertain caricature of someone that the employer wants to see because ultimately, if successful in that role, we’re going to be working with you and that’s what we want to see in the interview process: the person that we’re going to be working with, not a caricature of the person you think you ought to be.
What soft skills are most important in your role?
The soft skill that’s most important in my role would be an openness and willingness to learn and I suppose really without that I wouldn’t be in the role that I am currently in because this field wasn’t as prevalent as it is now when I was at university so I would encourage students and graduates to be open and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves by being open-minded and willing to learn.
What training did you get when you started the role?
When I first joined Baker McKenzie I was presented with a suite of classroom trainings which were invaluable in getting to know the organisation and the types of work that we were engaging in but I suppose the most important training that I’ve had has been on the job and learning from more experienced peers and colleagues that have experience of the business and of their subject matter.
How have the people in your organisation inspired you?
What I think about the people that I work with and the organisation and what inspires me about them; I suppose it’s their agility of mind and their ability to apply themselves to a variety of different problems and come up with a variety of innovative solutions. You know, those problems will vary on a day-by-day basis but they’re always agile and thinking of innovative solutions to those problems.
Why would you recommend students and graduates apply to your firm?
I would recommend Baker McKenzie to any student or graduate for two reasons, really. One, it’s a fantastic place to start and develop your career, especially if you’re not entirely sure where you would like your career to go. There’s a number of opportunities that will be available to you. Personally, my career has ended up going in the direction that I didn’t know it would go in but I’m in a job that I love and absolutely enjoy every day. I suppose the second reason I would recommend it is really the people and the people make the organisation. There’s a real culture of friendship; there’s any number of clubs and societies that you can get involved in and explore interests that you may have or may be wanting to develop. So, I suppose the people and the opportunities available would be the reasons I’d recommend the firm to any student or graduate.
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