Finally! We’ve made it to Ireland after waiting all year. It’s hard to believe that our program has finally started and we are here on University College Dublin’s campus. It has been quite the week of exploring Dublin and many other scenic and beautiful locations that Ireland has to offer. I have already made some great connections, gotten to enjoy some great cuisine, and gotten to even play some traditional Gaelic sports such as handball and hurling!
So after a long week of exploring Dublin, taking trips to Belfast and Wicklow, and adjusting to UCD’s campus, I am ready to get into a routine and begin my internship. I will be working in the Information Technology industry during my time abroad, specifically at University College Dublin’s IT Services department on campus (which luckily means a short commute!). Information Technology is an industry focused on utilizing computer systems to manipulate, utilize, store, process, analyze data for a wide array of tasks. Within the field of education, IT is valuable for storing student information, executing assignments over the web, creating a schoolwide network, and solving any student/staff/faculty technology issues. The team in UCD IT department that I will be working with will be working on upgrading campus hardware by replacing the older model computers with newer ones, all while ensuring their software will be in-line with campus standards. This will ensure that come the start of the traditional academic year, all campus technology will be modernized and working for the use of everyone on UCD’s campus.
In order to work in the IT industry, you have to keep a level head and be able to problem solve. When trying to address technology issues with unknown origins, you must be able to use all the knowledge you have accumulated in your studies to be able to solve to puzzle as to why the technology is not behaving as desired. This can get frustrating if a solution is especially difficult to uncover and may take a lot of trial and error. Thus, you must be okay with not succeeding on the first go. Another skill necessary for the industry is adaptability. With technology, things are always changing, growing, and modernizing, so one must be able to adapt and learn new softwares and hardware. People skills are also valuable in the information technology industry, Because technology is so intertwined in our daily lives as human beings, the desire to keep our phones, laptops, computers, etc. all properly working 24/7 is very much ingrained in human nature. Thus, technology problems can cause people great stress and frustration which someone in IT may have to deal with as they search for a working solution to their technological woes. People skills are not only valuable when working with customers, but also when working in project teams with your colleagues. You have to be able to collaborate, brainstorm, and pull your weight in a team setting in order to be successful in the industry, ensuring that projects are completed in the correct timeframe and to the best of their ability. Finally, creativity is a valuable strength in IT. Whether it comes to utilizing programming to solve a problem or brainstorming new ideas for helpful software improvements, creativity is a great outlet for problem solving and innovation. This is where collaboration comes into play as well, as brainstorming with people who come from all different sorts of backgrounds and experiences allows the creation of a product which can easily and efficiently cater to those who need it.
To be successful in IT in Ireland, a foreign culture to me, I must become a lot more adaptable and less insecure. I need to begin getting over the culture shock of being abroad and learning about a way of conducting business differently than in the states. For example, as we learned prior to our arrival and during our EUSA orientation, expectations of feedback or even deadlines are a lot more lax in Ireland than in the States. While I consider myself rather go-with-the-flow in my personal life, I do love clear instructions, rubrics, and feedback when in a professional or academic setting so I know exactly what my higher-ups desire from me and what I can improve on. I will need to learn to be more loose and need less guidance when it comes to producing results for my team. Not only that, but because Irish culture is more personable in the workplace, I will also need to forget about my introvertedness and come out of my shell to really get to know my colleagues. All in all, while the industry culture is different in Ireland than in the United States, I feel like I have gained the tools from my education to truly thrive and grow in this professional environment, all while being able to actually work hands-on in the IT field.