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Discovering a Passion: Cian's Journey Studying Data Analytics through Springboard+ at NCI

Posted by Andrea Leyden on 10 July 2023

Discovering a Passion Cians Journey Studying Data Analytics through Springboard+ at NCI

If you have been considering a career change but feel uncertain about what the future holds, Cian's story of completing a Springboard+ course in data analytics at National College of Ireland may inspire you to take action. Before discovering his passion for data analytics, Cian had a diverse career path in the finance and entertainment industries. However, he always had a knack for logic and numbers, which ultimately led him to explore the field of data analytics.

In this blog post, Cian shares his experience on the course, the invaluable support he received and his advice for anyone considering a Springboard+ programme at NCI. 

1. Tell us about your career and educational background before you studied the course.

College life didn’t work out for me the first time around, so I pretty much went straight into working in the finance industry. My early career began with working as a collections agent or customer service representative across several financial institutions, namely GE Woodchester Finance, Lombard & Ulster, and Bank of Ireland Finance.

At that point, I got a break into the entertainment industry where I worked as a freelance film accountant on numerous film and television productions, including international co-productions. It’s there that I learnt the ropes as an accountant. While I had a lot of fun on some of those productions it’s not as glamorous as it sounds, though meeting some big stars was usually a perk!

In 2012, I joined Darta, a subsidiary of the Allianz group, as an accounts administrator. This was accountancy writ large and gave me my first real insight into global corporate-scale systems. I’d previously started using Excel to automate small functions and found I could scale that into automating workflows too. I later moved to their Operations department as a Support Specialist, using my technical skills full-time in developing automation solutions, analysing workflow systems, and providing data analysis reporting.

In terms of education, I completed a Diploma for Accounting Technicians (MIATI) from the Institute of Incorporated Public Accountants in 2015. This was a successful return to education for me, and it opened my eyes to what I could achieve as a mature student.

2. Where did you hear about the Higher Diploma in Data Analytics at NCI?

In and around the end of 2019 I started getting really interested in data analytics. My partner was finishing up her final qualifying exams the following summer, and so this was now my opportunity to return to education. Then in March 2020, all our worlds were turned upside down, but as summer approached, I decided I was still going to go for it and started looking for remote learning courses.

I’d found there weren’t many and was even considering the University of London when I found that NCI was running a purely online Higher Diploma. I signed up for a sample class in July and applied for the course the next morning!

3. Why did you decide to study a Springboard+ course?

I’ve always been drawn to logic and number problems and learnt to code when I was just 10 years old back in the 80s, so I found this relatively new field of study and all the potential it has both captivating and exciting. Having found the course I wanted, I then discovered that it was a Springboard+ course, which made it so much easier to return to higher education.

I had been concerned that I wouldn’t be accepted as I didn’t have a primary degree when applying, but the RPEL (Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning) process meant that I was able to qualify thanks to my work experience. The financial implications were also much, much lower thanks to the EU funding involved, which was a relief in such a frightening time in the world.

4. Tell us about your experience on the course.

The outcome of this path of study for me hasn’t been fully realised yet, but it’s already far exceeded my expectations. The Higher Diploma in Data Analytics confirmed to me, quite absolutely, that I’d found the subject for me. Having completed that with a first, I went straight into the Postgraduate Diploma in Data Analytics starting three months later, and straight from graduating from that with a first into the Master’s top-up course last January.

Having only expected to gain a Higher Diploma, it’s been a whirlwind of studies beyond anything I’d considered. When I do graduate, there will be numerous new and exciting professional and academic options available to me. Though I have reassured my partner that I definitely won’t do a doctorate next!

5. What advice would you give to anyone considering a Springboard+ course at NCI?

Go for it! Attend an open day and sign up for a sample class (see upcoming events here). Read up on the syllabus and modules but don’t let them scare you off; there are some great support resources available within the college, both academically and personally. Don’t let lack of qualifications or time out of the education system stop you either. To paraphrase Tolkien, that’s the dangerous thing about learning. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to!

Cian studied both the Higher Diploma in Science in Data Analytics and the Postgraduate Diploma in Science in Data Analytics at National College of Ireland through the Springboard+ initiative.

Springboard+ HCI Programmes September 2024


Topics: Springboard+, Part-time Courses, School of Computing