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international careers international experience international students Research Student success stories

Meet the Queen’s sisters spending their summer researching in Utrecht

The Global Opportunities team together with Santander have offered over 70 undergraduate students the opportunity to complete a funded Utrecht Summer School Course in The Netherlands. Successful applicants – who will each receive £1,400 towards their course and accommodation costs – include Malaysian sisters Abigail and Priscilla Jeyaraj, both Biomedical Science students, who will study Advanced Clinical Research Monitoring and Leadership for Innovation and Performance Happiness, respectively. Here is what Abigail and Priscilla had to say ahead of their trip.

Are you excited for the trip?

Abigail: This summer school opportunity is the opportunity of a lifetime! Utrecht University is a prestigious research university, and it would be an invaluable experience to complete a course on clinical research at Utrecht University. 

Priscilla: I think “opportunity of a lifetime” captures our thoughts accurately, being enabled by Queen’s University Belfast to undertake this opportunity in the #1 University in the Netherlands, ranked by Shanghai Ranking 2019 is a blessing and we couldn’t be more grateful! 

How does it feel to be travelling together?

A: I’m very excited about traveling together! We’ve travelled together quite a number of times in the past and we’ve always had a fun time together. My sister is a great travel companion. 

P: We have previously travelled together extensively on many occasions- including summer schools, but it is an experience that we are so fortunate to share together and the excitement and eagerness is always the same as the first time.

What are you most excited about?

A: I’m most excited about meeting people from all over the world with similar interests through the summer course. I’m also very excited just to experience the beauty of Utrecht! I’m fascinated by the beautiful double-dock canals in Utrecht and I can’t wait to see them in person.  

P: Learning from world-class experts and going on visits to companies in Utrecht! I’m really excited to be amongst other students that share the same passion about leadership and having student experience and delve into the culture in Utrecht!

What do you hope to learn – both professionally and personally?

A: The course I’ve chosen is delivered by some of the best professionals in the field, and it would be an honour to not only to learn the course content from them, but also to get to learn more about their research and their experiences in the field. The course includes a lecture on oncology trials, which I am particularly looking forward to. There also will be practical sessions where we will be able to utilise the skills we have learnt throughout the course, which I believe would be very beneficial. Personally, I’m very excited to learn more about the lifestyle and culture in Utrecht!  

P: Professionally, I hope to widen my leadership network, develop, and sharpen my leadership skills and gain an insight into applying the skills in a company setting during the company visits. And personally, I look forward to enjoying and traveling around the historic city, Utrecht.

Find out more about Global Opportunities at Queen’s here

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Employer Engagement Employer events Employer feedback Employer Insight Employers international students student success Student success stories

What impresses employers about Queen’s students?

 This blog celebrates some of the encouraging employer feedback we have received about Queen’s students during our employer events and activities over the last year. 

“Fantastic students”

Beth MacDougall, Student Recruitment Associate at EY welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. She told us:
“What a brilliant day meeting these fantastic Queen’s students! We couldn’t have been more delighted with our first event back in person! The students developed an understanding of the different roles we offer, and were keen to know what it’s actually like working here day to day. Biggest thank you to all those in the group for signing up and being fantastic participants – we can’t wait to see what all your futures hold!”

“Delighted to see classroom learning translated into a professional environment”

Louise Dooley, In-House Recruitment Specialist at Andor Technology welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. She told us:
“Andor Technology were delighted to be one of the partner organisations participating in #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. We welcomed students from Mechanical and Electronic Engineering and Physics disciplines. Thank you for helping us provide opportunities for students to gain valuable insights into the world of work and how classroom learning translates into a professional environment.”

“Eyes opened to the future potential”

The Interior Fit-Out Team at Graham welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. They told us:
“We opened the doors to 7 students from Queens University Belfast to see and learn about the works being carried out, whilst giving them an understanding of how a live project runs.

Project Manager, Eóin King MCIOB along with Contracts Director Neill Gillespie MCIOB took the students on a tour of the project and shared their own experiences of working and studying whilst building their career within GRAHAM. We were pleased to hear from student participants that their eyes had been opened to a potential future in the construction industry as a result of the visit.”

“Important real-life insights”

The Bloc team welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. They told us:
“Recently we had the pleasure of welcoming students from Queen’s University Belfast onsite. The main objective of the day was for students to gain very important real life organisation insights. The students got an insight into Bloc, the sector and got the opportunity to observe professionals in practice.”

“Learning from graduate engineers”

The team at Dawson-Wam welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. They told us:
“DAWSON-WAM were pleased to support #QUBWorkShadowingWeek offering students work shadowing opportunities with NI employers. Our students Kieran and Alice got the opportunity to visit our Shimna Flood Alleviation Scheme in Newcastle, Co. Down. Their site experience included a mini survey camp hosted by our Graduate Engineers, James Carinduff and Conor Magorrian.”

“Great to meet students interested in grad opportunities”

Leah Tohill, Recruiting Graduate Talent, First Derivatives took part in the #QUBStockMarketChallenge. She told us:
“It was great to meet so many students that were interested in the graduate opportunities First Derivative have to offer.
Congratulations to Charles and Toby who won the Stock Market Challenge. We’re delighted that you picked First Derivative as your first choice for an Insights Day.”

“Quickly grasped the flavour of the work we do”

Niall Elliott, Legal Professional at Baker McKenzie welcomed a group of #QUBStudents for our #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme. He told us:
“It was great to meet some of the #QUBStudents in the Baker McKenzie Belfast Centre as part of the Careers in Law Insight Programme 2022.

The group quickly became familiar with the various teams that operate from within the Belfast Centre. This was followed by a negotiation task to give the students a flavour of the kind of work we do.”

“First-hand experience of legal expertise”

The team at Carson McDowell welcomed a group of #QUBStudents for our #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme. They told us:
“Senior Partner Neasa Quigley and Partner Gerard Armstrong hosted students from Queen’s University Belfast as part of their #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme 2022. Having enjoyed some ice cream on arrival, a team from Carson McDowell took participants around the legal world, giving them first-hand experience of a range of legal expertise.”

“Will welcome students back as colleagues”

The team at Herbert Smith Freehills welcomed a group of #QUBStudents for our #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme. They told us:
“We were delighted to host a number of Law students from Queen’s University Belfast as part of the #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme 2022.

The students met some of the Belfast team and gained an insight into our Alternative Legal Services practice group.  

Belfast colleagues and Queen’s University alumni Linet Kurian and Luke Osborne shared their experiences since joining HSF and how their careers have progressed from starting as a Legal Analyst.

The Belfast team really enjoyed meeting with the students and hope to be able to welcome some of them back as colleagues in the near future.”

“Delighted to network informally”

The team at MKB Law welcomed a group of #QUBStudents for our #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme. They told us:
“Lynsey Henderson and Ruairi Maguire were delighted to speak at the final session of the #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme 2022, giving students an overview of their legal career, answering questions in a panel discussion, plus chatting informally with attendees afterwards at the networking buffet.

Thank you for a fantastic event.”

“Incredible ideas and presentations”

Beth MacDougall, Student Recruitment Associate at EY met a group of #QUBStudents on our #QUBInsightIntoManagement Programme. She told us:
“EY were absolutely delighted to participate in #QUBInsightIntoManagement Programme with Ruby Hopkins and John McMorrow acting as group facilitators over the course of the programme.

A truly fantastic event. We completely in awe of the incredible ideas and presentations all of the students gave and were thrilled to attend as judges.”

“Amazing applications”

Francesca Morelli, Co-Founder of VAVA Influence took on #QUBStudents as part of #QUBImpactProject. She told us:
“We are delighted to be taking part in the #QUBImpactProject for the second year in a row as employers. In partnership with #QUBImpactProject, we’re hiring two Part-Time Marketing & Events Interns to work with us at VAVA Influence | Influencer Marketing this summer. We had some amazing applications; looking forward to welcoming the talent from QUB!”

“Hugely impressive”

Peter McCleery, CEO at Get Sociable took on #QUBStudents as part of #QUBImpactProject. He told us:

“We’re very grateful at GetSociable for all the help from @QUBCareers. The calibre of students has been hugely impressive, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Queen’s University Belfast as we grow.”

Read what else employers say about Queen’s students here

Categories
Alumni Development Insight into Management Leadership Skills Student experience student success Student success stories

Eimer’s Story: My Experience with Insight into Management

Portrait of Eimer Henderson, Queen's alumna and Insight Participant.
Eimer Henderson

Working as a team

Insight into Management is a program that allows you to experience and understand what it’s like to work in industry. You’re given a case study and told to come up with a product that will solve a problem. It’s a great opportunity to work with people from a diverse range of University degree backgrounds on a common goal, in order to solve a complex problem that interests you and your team! 

Getting creative

It’s a chance to be creative, express your ideas and learn from other people’s ideas that, you don’t usually work with on University group projects from within your own degree area so, you really get an insight on how other people think and approach problems.

Perfecting your sales pitch

The highlight of the program for me was the sales pitch at the end of the program. Sales pitch sounds like a scary word, but it was more like an exhibition where you got to see what all other teams had been working on for the past few days. It’s also an opportunity for you and your team to come together one last time to create your stand to show off what you had been working on too!

Solving problems

The programme was challenging, but in a good way that will definitely help you to grow as an individual. You learn so much, from being able to quickly establish a common ground with people you’ve never met before to solving a problem within a quick timeframe.

Learning to manage

I developed lots of skills during the programme. The title ‘Insight into Management’ is very well fitted as I feel you 100% develop the skills required to manage a team and a project as well as skills that leaders have; active listening, creativity, team building, communication, patience, empathy, flexibility, product development, innovation, persuasion, time management, presentation skills to name a few.

Using the skills after Uni

I’ve used the skills I developed on Insight into Management many times since I finished the programme. Firstly, it helped me with my final year project as my final year project required me to work as part of a team and develop a solution to a problem. In my job now too, I work with other companies on projects, and this requires me to be able to understand other people’s points of view and not be shy when meeting new people. I regularly present in my job now too, so having to do the final sales pitch in the programme helped me develop presentation skills in front of people who I may not know. I think all the experiences and skills you learn through this programme will help you in one way or another in your future career.

Advice for students

Give it your all for the 3 days! Be immersed in the programme and try develop the skills that you may not be so confident in because it’s the best place to do it. Be open minded and learn from people who you might not usually interact with (people with different degree backgrounds to yours).

Find out more about Insight into Management and other development programmes offered at Queen’s Careers Service.

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Baker McKenzie Employer Engagement Employer events Employer Insight Employer Panels Employer Q&A Employers Spring Careers Festival Spring Recruitment Fair student success Student success stories

Jump-Starting My Career With Baker McKenzie

Sophie Martin, Baker McKenzie

My name is Sophie Martin and I am a Legal Project Coordinator in the Legal Project Management team.  I joined Baker McKenzie, Belfast, as a Legal Professional in September 2019, where I worked in the Contentious Support Group. This was a fantastic opportunity after university, which provided me exposure to a breadth of document review and due diligence projects, and in-turn, the opportunity to develop an array of skills, from analytical to communication skills. 

One of the best aspects about working for Baker McKenzie is the endless career opportunities. During my time as a Legal Professional, I had the opportunity to apply for two secondments. The first secondment provided me with the opportunity to work with one of our key clients in their London offices. This was a great experience, providing me with the opportunity to work directly with our clients, providing insights into their working culture and develop relationships with our London colleagues. 

A pivotal moment in my career, was the second secondment, where I joined the Legal Project Management team, initially for a 6 month period. Like many of my peers, prior to joining Baker McKenzie, I was unfamiliar with Legal Project Management and what a career in Legal Project Management entailed. The opportunity to combine legal and management, two of my career interests, and my curiosity to explore this niche career opportunity further encouraged me to apply for the secondment. When I joined the team in January 2020, I was instantly exposed to a variety of work and endless skill development opportunities. The variety of projects, global exposure, client-facing role and autonomy to shape my projects, provided me with the platform to catapult my professional career. This, combined with an extremely supportive and welcoming team, confirmed that this was a career that I wanted to pursue. This is where my career in Legal Project Management commenced, as shortly after starting my secondment, I successfully applied for a permanent role in the Legal Project Management team.

As a Legal Project Coordinator, no two days are ever the same, meaning the learning and development opportunities are endless. The core roles and responsibilities entail managing client matters, including liaising with the client and Firm’s matter team; supporting the legal team to track and manage projects by integrating matter management, fee management, technology and process improvement techniques; analysing complex reports, flagging key issues and designing bespoke reporting; budget monitoring; and providing support for client team collaboration sites.  To ensure that the Legal Project Management team ensure our overarching objective that all projects are managed on time, in scope and within budget, this requires multijurisdictional collaboration with our Legal Project Management colleagues and legal teams across the globe to ensure that we provide the highest quality service to our clients. 

In addition to the development opportunities I have received through my role, Baker McKenzie are committed to each individual’s career progression and provide various opportunities to facilitate an individual’s career progression, such as internal and external secondments, promotions and development programmes, such as the Baker Excellence Programme. 

I would highly encourage any student wanting to join a global, high performing firm, to join Baker McKenzie, where you can commence and develop your career, surrounded by friendly and supportive colleagues.

Interested in working at Baker McKenzie? You can chat to the team about upcoming opportunities at our Spring Recruitment Fair.

Register here: https://virtualcareersfairs.qub.ac.uk/event/5725

Date: 9 Feb, 2-6pm

Baker McKenzie are proud sponsors of the Spring Careers Festival 

Categories
international careers international experience internship Marketing student success Student success stories Virtual internships Working globally from NI Working Globally in NI

Inside My Marketing Internship with Mourne Dew Distillery

Businesses Management student Rosie Alexander completed a virtual internship with Mourne Dew Distillery as part of our Working Globally from NI programme. Here is how she got on. 

In June, I started a marketing internship with the local spirits company Mourne Dew. I was excited to get started as I knew the experience was going to be insightful and beneficial. As a first-year student, this opportunity has afforded me the ability to discover where my passions lie and gain experience in an area in which I have an interest.

Researching the company

Before beginning my internship, I was impressed to learn about the story of Mourne Dew and the multi-award winning gins, whiskeys, vodkas and poitíns they produce. Based in Warrenpoint, Mourne Dew is inspired by the essence of the Mournes, infusing their drinks with botanical flavours to create a unique taste. I was really interested in this company due to their values of tradition and pride for the island of Ireland, as well as their commitment to quality. Working for an up-and-coming local company interested me greatly and I was excited to be gaining some insight into the marketing side of things.

My first campaign

The majority of my internship has been remote as I live quite far from the distillery. In my first week, I was introduced to the team and learnt about the different projects Mourne Dew have been working on. I got stuck in with tasks such as finding new accounts, working on current campaigns, such as the Fathers’ Day competition and communicating with partners to help promote Mourne Dew’s products. I was especially interested in social media marketing and took charge of the LinkedIn account. This responsibility allowed me to be creative and I really enjoyed thinking up different campaigns and posts. Another task that interested me was looking into the distillery’s international presence, as they are beginning to expand into Europe, the USA and Asia. It was exciting to progress on international plans as I could see the business’ growth.

On the road

A few times I got to go on the road with Neil Fleming, the Sales and Marketing Executive. This allowed me to see how sales and distribution works and I enjoyed meeting Mourne Dew’s contacts. It was great to see the products physically and I learned so much about how a small but growing business is run. I especially enjoyed our sales pitch at the Northern Lights Bar, as I was able to find out a lot about the different types of drinks that Mourne Dew produces and what makes them so unique.

Visiting the distillery

In addition, I was able to visit the distillery itself in Warrenpoint. It was fascinating to watch the distillation process of the gins, vodkas, whiskeys and poitíns, and I loved smelling all the botanical ingredients that infuse the drinks. It was interesting to see that each batch is made by a recipe by hand, and each part of the process, from distilling to bottling and packaging, happens in the one place. It was also lovely to meet all the team, including Donal and Noel (the owners), Lydia (who does social media and photography) and Donal and Tag (who work in the production process). I also met the other intern Claire, who I had been working with remotely for 3 weeks of my internship.

An amazing insight

Working with Neil these past 4 weeks has been invaluable, and I have learned so much about both marketing and how a local distillery is run. I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of this internship and would encourage anyone considering a programme like this to go for it! It has truly solidified my future vision of working in marketing and I have made some friends and connections along the way. I have gained amazing experience and insight and will miss my time at Mourne Dew greatly.

To find more internship and work experience opportunities, visit MyFuture.

Categories
Global Opportunities international experience internship student success Student success stories Virtual internships Working globally from NI Working Globally in NI

My Internship With Queen’s International Office

Olivia Anderson, an International Business with German graduate completed a four-week internship with Queen’s International Office as part of our Working Globally from NI Internship Programme. Here is how she got on. 

This summer I had the great opportunity of completing a 4-week internship with the International Office at QUB. I applied for this at the end of my final year as I wanted to gain some experience in this area over the summer before moving on from university. When I saw the opportunities available in this internship programme I wanted to apply as I thought it would be interesting to be able to work on projects with a global perspective right here from Northern Ireland.

The application process involved an application form and then a video call interview which already enabled me to develop my skills in these areas. 

Although 4 weeks sounds like a very short time, and I was wondering how I would be able to get involved in projects within this timeframe, there was no need to worry. The internship was very much tailored to my interests and skills and the projects that I was involved in were genuinely interesting. I got to work on some research projects and do some competitor analysis as well as write blogs and think about how QUB is being marketed to students internationally and how this can be improved. It was so valuable to gain these skills and insights into how to carry these out and how the university attracts students from all over the world. 

Working in a virtual team

I also got the opportunity to connect with two other interns who were international students from China and India, and we worked on reviewing some of the university’s marketing material together. This was great to understand each other’s perspectives on how Queen’s is perceived. 

Before beginning my internship, I was unsure how it would be structured as I was working from home, however there were multiple calls per week with my supervisor with clear guidance on the projects and what they would like to be achieved by the end of the internship. This helped to clear up any questions and give some interaction where it could have been quite isolated.

What I really enjoyed about this internship programme was that the projects that were given to us were challenging enough that I was being pushed and developing new skills while also being given guidance and help and being able to change the scope of the projects along the way to suit my interests and skills. 

I am so glad I got accepted to this internship programme and would encourage anyone to apply and gain some great experience over summer which you will be able to carry forward with you into your future studies and career.  

Keep an eye on our events website for details of upcoming internship opportunities and funded programmes. 

Categories
British Council Global Opportunities student success Student success stories transferrable skills Virtual internships

Inside my Virtual Internship with the British Council

Daniel Tunstall, a Liberal Arts Master’s student completed a four-week summer internship with the British Council, analysing feedback and data from the International Schools Exchange Programme. Here is how he got on.

Did you know that the transferable skills gained on an Arts degree can lend themselves to a career in data analytics? Just ask Daniel Tunstall, an MA Liberal Arts student from Queen’s who recently completed a four-week summer internship with the British Council, analysing feedback and data from the International Schools Exchange Programme. His communication skills and eye for insight helped him visualise the data to uncover the story. Read his blog to find out how he got on:

What did the internship involve?

Over the course of four weeks, I have completed an internship with the British Council where I developed skills in analysing and displaying qualitative data so that it can be effectively used in the future to understand the successes and weaknesses of the programme. 

What soft skills did you develop?

This internship introduced me to the processes of working within a team of a global organisation where people are focusing on different tasks and how these teams work together to ensure that all tasks are done efficiently to the required standard. This opportunity provided me with an insight into the specific skills needed to work well in a team and allowed me to develop my understanding of adaptability and resilience in collecting feedback of my work and using it to improve it and fulfil the expectations. 

What practical skills did you develop?

This internship has also developed my ability to analyse data due to the requirements for me to look at the feedback for the programme and identify gaps in the data which need to be further explored in the future. Within this process, I conducted thematic analyses of the data and identified the possible improvements that could be made within the programme to ensure success in the future. Through creating two further questionnaires to collect more data, I had to use the knowledge from my analysis to isolate these improvements and allow participants the opportunity to offer recommendations. 

How did the experience develop your understanding of workplace culture? 

The British Council invited me to attend global events that they were holding such as Windrush Day, a celebration of immigration to Britain. By being invited to these events, I was able to understand how they host global events and the extent to which the organisation runs on an international basis. 

How has the experienced influenced your future career plan?

I have thoroughly enjoyed working within this organisation as an intern because I have developed valuable skills in data collection and handling which are specific and difficult skills to develop. Furthermore, this opportunity has provided me with a unique experience into understanding how international organisations operate which will influence and impact my future decisions when it comes to employability considerations. 

If you are wondering what you could do with your degree, and where your transferable skills could take you, catch up on our Industry Insight series and explore what industry are growing and how you can ride job market trends. 

GO.QUB.AC.UK/INDUSTRYINSIGHT

Categories
Daiwa Funded programmes Global Opportunities Japan postgraduate Scholarships student success Student success stories

How a Daiwa Scholarship Changed my Life

Queen’s alum Brian O’Rourke was a 2003 scholar and the experience changed his life so much that he is still in Japan to this day working as a senior researcher at the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), one of Japan’s largest public research organisations.  Here is his story. 

While I had visited Tokyo several times during the course of my PhD, when I arrived with my fellow scholars in September 2003, I couldn’t have imagined how the next 20 months would shape the rest of my life and career. Apart from the incredible immersion in Japanese language and culture, during that eventful period I both met my future wife and began research collaborations with my present work colleagues. 

Brian (back row second from left) in 2003.

I am now a senior researcher at the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), based in Tsukuba, Ibaraki prefecture. AIST is one of Japan’s largest public research organisations and is mostly funded through the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. AIST’s goal is the development of technology useful to Japanese industry and to support commercialisation of research. In my own research group, we use exotic particle beams like positrons (the antimatter particles of electrons) and neutrons to probe and characterise novel materials. Presenting our research at international and domestic meetings has given me plenty of opportunity for interaction with other researchers doing similar work both inside Japan and internationally. 

Brian now works as a senior researcher at the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)

My main passion outside work and family life is cycling, especially cycle touring around Japan. The roots of this hobby can also be traced back to the Daiwa Scholarship when I brought my bike to my homestay in Yamagata and decided to finish my stay by cycling back to Tokyo. Since then, I have taken every opportunity to go touring when I can and just last year, during a short trip to Kyushu, I completed a long-held ambition to cycle in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures. 

Brian is a keen cyclist

The Daiwa Scholarship continues to influence my life after all these years and I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities afforded to me through my participation. This appreciation has been made more acute in these times of travel restrictions due to the global pandemic. I hope the barriers imposed by the virus will soon be overcome and the opportunities for cultural exchange will remain strong into the future.

Applications are now open for this unique funded programme of language study, work placement and homestay in Japan. Daiwa Scholarships offer young, talented UK citizens aged between 21 and 35 with strong leadership potential the opportunity to acquire Japanese language skills and to access expertise and knowledge relevant to your career goals. No previous experience of Japan is necessary. 

Apply for the scholarship before 2 Dec

Categories
Global Opportunities internship my future student success Student success stories Virtual internships

Inside my Digital Marketing Internship

Miriam O’Reilly, 19, a second year BSc Business Management with Placement student at Queen’s joined our ‘Working Globally from NI’ programme, and secured a position as Brand & Marketing Intern with MCS Group, a Specialist Recruitment Consultancy headquartered in Belfast. Here is how she got on.

The recruitment process

Throughout the academic year amid intense COVID-19 restrictions, the idea of securing a summer internship itself felt like a far-away and unrealistic dream, let alone one which was both in-person and focused on working on a global-scale. In late March, while checking out the Queen’s MyFuture platform, I stumbled across some of the opportunities being advertised by the Queen’s Global Opportunities Team. As a Business Management student and having taken a module in marketing, I was particularly drawn to this position of ‘Brand & Marketing Intern.’ Upon further research on MCS Group, I was even more excited by this opportunity, largely due to its very evident people-focused culture. 

After initially sending off my CV and Cover Letter, I was elated when MCS invited me to an interview. The interview itself was enough to convince me that MCS would be great to work for. Louise Smyth, one of the Managing Directors at MCS, took more of a personal approach in the interview, making conversation more about my experience in working in my local corner shop, my past experiences as a musician, what I do as a course rep and what I’d learned in my course so far, rather than the formal ‘professional experience’ as often expected. I was grateful for this, especially as a first-year student, as it allowed me to display the interpersonal skills I have gained through ‘non-professional experience’, which would present my potential and suit to the role. I was so excited to find out that I’d secured the position! This was alongside another Queen’s Business Management student, Ellen, who is going into her final year.

Digital marketing post-Covid

From the first day at MCS, I was guided and coached by the Marketing Executive, Martin. He explained what MCS do and how our role as marketers plays a key role in the success of the company. He emphasised the importance of the digital side of marketing, which has increased significantly within the past 18 months, and this became the primary focus of my duties over the period of the internship. Despite the fact I was fortunately able to work in the modern, sleek MCS office in Belfast City Centre, many of the staff were working from home a few days of the week due to social distancing regulations. In addition, the main communication channel between MCS and potential candidates is via social media and the MCS website. This meant that digital marketing was taking centre stage. 

What did the role involve?

At MCS I was given a lot of creative freedom and responsibility, and I feel very honoured that I was trusted with the brand name. Over the course of the internship, alongside the marketing team and fellow intern, I launched a successful company Tik Tok page and helped to revitalise elements of their Instagram page. I also ‘learnt the ropes’ of LinkedIn and was taught how to create engaging and informative content on various digital platforms. This included an element of planning and strategy, as the MCS brand image and mission had to be at the forefront of our minds at all times. This was especially important as the company are continually expanding, with an increasing presence in the US market. The content that was posted had to ensure inclusivity on an international scale and establish MCS as a global-focused company. An example of a global project we were involved in was the creation of a ‘candidate package’, informing potential US candidates on the perks of working for a very prominent UK online fashion company. 

Understanding the business

Alongside the content creation itself, Martin and the rest of the marketing team taught me so much about ‘the business side’ of the work we were doing, and how we can use analytics to track our success and present the value of our work. This encouraged me to take a ‘Google Digital Garage’ course called ‘The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing’, which helped to foreground what I’d learned over the course of my internship at MCS. These are transferable and invaluable skills which I hope to use over the course of the rest of my degree and placement year. In addition to all of this, being able to speak to other staff members about their career journey and educational backgrounds was really informative and eye-opening, especially with their vast knowledge on recruitment. The internship reinforced my view on the importance of work experience alongside academic study, as I believe this is just as vital a learning tool. 

Becoming part of the team

Outside the office, MCS prioritised including and involving me in company events. On my first week, we had an ‘end of quarter’ gathering at ‘Let’s Go Hydro’, where I got to meet all the staff and feel as though I was a part of the company. Between coffee trips, lunches out and shopping vouchers, it felt as though MCS really valued and encouraged its interns and has proven itself to be a great company to work for. I am so grateful to the Queen’s Global Opportunities Team and MCS Group for this opportunity and I’m excited to see what doors this experience may open as I start to apply for positions in my placement year. 

Interested in an internship? Search current opportunities in MyFuture.
Find more information on Global Opportunities at Queen’s here.

*Featured image posed by model

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advice Alumni campaigning Career Options Career planning communication skills community work Employer Insight Global Opportunities Go Global government Gradfest2021 Graduate success international careers international experience Law Leadership Networking student success Student success stories

From Queen’s to global peacemaker

Conor Houston, Queen’s Law graduate is Director of Houston Solutions Limited, and Chairman of several organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses Northern Ireland, One Young World 2023 Belfast, and of Fleming Fulton School. He is also the Governor and Trustee of the Irish Times Media Group.

Conor Houston

What does Queen’s mean to you?

 I’m often reminded of Seamus Heaney, his famous line when he talked about the original centre. I think, as I reflected, I’m making this video today, Queen’s University very much is for me, my original centre. It’s where I formed my passion for Law, which was the career I practised in for most 10 years. But it also gave me a number of skills, perspectives and opportunities that continue to this day, and I’m very proud that I have for almost 20 years, I’ve had an association with Queen’s University. 

What was your Queen’s experience like?

I graduated in 2004, with my Law degree. I had a fantastic three years at Queen’s, made a lot of friends who are still very much friends today, and I suppose it ignited my passion and interest in in law and the rule of law. I was very fortunate through my times at Queen’s to be involved in a number of summits and conferences, but also to go and study at the European Public Law Group Academy in Greece, in 2004, which was a really fantastic opportunity. It was my first time, I suppose, with young people from right across Europe studying together, all the different languages, cultures coming together and united by European Union law. 

That was a very formative and special time. And in fact, a number of the things that I’m continued to be involved in, tend to have that international perspective and lens. After I had completed my Law degree, I went on to study for my Master’s in Human Rights law, and was very fortunate that there was an opportunity to do a cross border element. So I did the first half of my Master’s in Queens, and the second half of my masters at the National University of Ireland in Galway. And again, that was a very special time and experience and a number of the friendships and relationships I enjoy to this day were because of that cross-border experience. 

What was your first graduate role?

I graduated from Queen’s with my Master’s and I then went back to Queen’s to study at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, where I was finally admitted as a solicitor in 2008. I was lucky that I had a firm that I did my apprenticeship with John J. Rice and Company in Belfast, which was a criminal and human rights firm.I worked there for almost 10 years and was fortunate to be involved in many of the pioneering human rights cases of that time. I was dual qualified in that I was qualified both in Northern Ireland and also in the Republic of Ireland. So I practised a lot in Belfast and Dublin. And during my time in practice, I was very involved in the profession. Firstly, through the Young Lawyers Association, the Northern Ireland Young Solicitors Association, which I ended up becoming Chair of, and we had some fantastic conferences and events and a lot of fun with that group. I was then the first lawyer for Northern Ireland to be appointed to the board of the European Young Bar Association, which our relationship continues to this day. And 2010, we actually brought the European Young Bar Association conference to Belfast, so it was fantastic to bring all these international lawyers to our city. 

What has been a career highlight?

I suppose a combination of all those roles, as well as being so very fortunate to be representing some leading human rights cases represent journalists, politicians, and many others. I suppose I became very interested in how law can affect change, I was very passionate about making a difference. And that’s what attracted me into law, the power of law to create change in a society. 

I was very fortunate that the cases I got to work on, were very much about driving that change. But I suppose I became interested in how could I do even more so in 2014, I was awarded a scholarship by the United States State Department. And I spent a few months, I took a sabbatical and took a few months out to Boston College and then into Washington, and on their rule of law programme, which really started to develop my thinking more around the skills and experiences and perspective I had, and what I could do. 

Whilst my mission was very much about helping people and making a difference, trying to refine what I could do with that, I became very interested then around maybe getting involved around politics and trying to create change to help complete our peace process, and to, I suppose, realise the enormous ambition and potential of Northern Ireland. 

What are some of your favourite work-related projects? 

I was very honoured to be appointed as the programme director at the Centre for Democracy and Peacebuilding. And I worked there for a number of years and worked on some fantastic projects around working with, for example, community organisations, youth groups, loyalists bands. And it was a great privilege to be involved in their work in trying to help to complete the peace process and build capacity within both civic and political society. 

One of the amazing projects I got to work on with them was the EU debate programme, which was set up about nine months before the EU referendum. And the idea was to create a space for informed thinking and debate in Northern Ireland, on the issues that the Brexit referendum would have, particularly as it pertains to Northern Ireland. 

I was involved with the board in rolling out a very ambitious programme where we engaged with community groups, youth organisations, religious organisations, every political party in Northern Ireland. And we really began a conversation, we weren’t trying to determine the outcome of the debate, we were trying to make sure that there was a debate. So we were neutral in that we weren’t trying to tell people to leave or remain, we were just trying to present all of the arguments and create that space. And that was a very humbling experience. 

Queen’s University Belfast were very involved in supporting that project. In fact, we launched a new debate in the Great Hall in Queen’s and academics from the School of Politics, including Professor David Phinnemore were involved in writing a briefing paper for us. So it was very important to us that it would be underpinned by that credible academic expertise, but also the have that support of the reputation of Queen’s.

Why did you set up your own business? 

I decided to set up my own consultancy, and I suppose what brings together a number of the clients and projects that I work on, is that one thing to realise the ambition of Northern Ireland. So I work with a number of leaders, all of whom may be coming from very different backgrounds and sectors, but all of whom are very passionate about realising the enormous potential of Northern Ireland, and trying to drive change here. 

I suppose that’s what unites the number of projects that I’m privileged to work on now. And as I mentioned, I’m government trustee of the Irish Times Media Group. So the Irish Times is owned by a trust, and there are eight of us appointed to effectively act as the shareholders of the group. So we’re there to sort of look at the long term vision and that’s been particularly interesting, interesting in an age of post truth and thinking about the lines around freedom of speech, etc. So, and a lot of that, of course, goes back to the learnings that I had when I studied both my Law and Master’s degree around the issue of proportionality and competing rights. 

What is One Young World? 

I’ve been involved in leading a bid to bring One Young World to Belfast in 2023. So in 2017, I was asked to address the one Young World Youth summit in Bogota, Colombia. One Young World is the world’s largest youth summit. It brings over 3000 young people from every country in the world, to a city each year. And it’s one of the only organisations aside from the Olympics that actually gets every country in the world involved. 

And this is about identifying the future leaders, both within business but also within NGO sector, just young people that are passionately driving change right across the world. So I was very fortunate to be invited to address this summit in Bogota, Colombia in 2017, and was introduced on stage by the then president of Colombia, President Santos and the late Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations. Both of those men spoke about the impact that Northern Ireland had on their journeys to peace, and this was a very humbling moment for me. 

When I addressed the summit, I realised the power of our generation and the generation watching this video, to effect real change, not just within the place we will call home, but also in terms of making an impact in the world. So I then began the process of building a team to put together a bid to bring One Young World to Belfast in 2023, and we were successful in that. 

How has your degree from Queen’s helped you?

Queen’s is that passport, not just for your career, but to accessing opportunities, and a fantastic network right around the world. So, you know, I’m extremely proud of the many hats and roles and things I’ve been involved in being a graduate of Queen’s University is really up there, and I look forward to continuing that role with Queen’s. 

What challenges have you faced?

When I was a lawyer, and some of the projects I work on, particularly some of the Civic roles that I have, I think one of the challenges your generation is going to face is how we engage with the people we disagree with. So one of the challenges is always when you have very passionate about change, or seeing something happen, and you encountered the resistance to that.

I think that one of the big challenges that I challenge myself every day, I think that we have to all turn on is what can we do to engage with the people that we disagree with, how we, I’ve often said we don’t have to agree but being disagreeable is a choice. So we need to find more places and spaces in which we can find that ability to respectfully engage with each other and actually see that compromise is an art, it’s not a sellout.

I think this is something that I encourage your generation to really challenge I think that the future will belong to those who can build relationships that can be constructive that can respectfully disagree with each other, but can see the common good can work together for the common good, can see the bigger picture that is the challenge of your generation. 

What gets your out of bed in the morning?

I don’t feel that there’s an average week. For me, I think that’s probably what I love most about my, my work. In fact, I don’t even feel like I have a job because I’m very fortunate that everything I do, whether it be in my business life or my civic life, they are projects and issues that I’m very passionate about. So I jump out of bed in the morning, passionate about making the change in the area that day, whether it be through being on the border shadows and LGBT youth organisation, whether that be in promoting the role of small businesses through the five and a half 1000 members, and I have the privilege of being Chair of the FSB, and speaking up on their behalf, whatever I can do to to advocate change, to advance those who are trying to make a real impact. 

That’s what sparks me on in the morning. 

What advice do you have for graduates?

I think that’s one of the most exciting things about this generation, the graduates of today is that you really do have a blank canvas to create the kind of life and career that you want for yourself. And Queen’s University, as I say, is the ideal place to give you that toolkit for you to be able to do that. 

It’s for me, it’s that life journey, it’s not just about getting that degree wasn’t really that important that you do, and it’s about the relationships that you build, the skills that you have, and they will sustain you for the not just years but decades ahead. And you know, as I said, it’s 20 years this September since I started Queen’s, and I’m reminded of something my late grandfather said to me, he said 20 years is a long time looking forward, but nothing looking back. 

And for the first time, I can tell you, it doesn’t feel like two decades ago I entered Queen’s University, but those two decades, I’ve had that original centre of Queens, which has, as I say, been a constant thread throughout my career both here in Northern Ireland and through the international experiences and opportunities I’ve had. 

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