NCI Blog

My Experience Studying Artificial Intelligence Through Springboard+ At NCI

Posted by Andrea Leyden on 08 June 2023

Springboard AI Coman

Coman O'Connell transitioned to a career in technology by completing a conversion course in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning through Springboard+ at National College of Ireland. He shares his experience of the course, his career and educational background, why he chose to study a Springboard+ programme at NCI, and the outcome after completing the higher diploma. He also provides advice for anyone considering a Springboard+ course at NCI this coming September.

If you're considering a career change or looking to upskill, this post will provide valuable insights into the benefits of pursuing a Springboard+ course.

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

I studied Electrical Engineering for my undergrad in University College Dublin. While completing my course, I discovered that I enjoyed the non-core Electrical Engineering modules, and they were the modules that I performed best in. As a result, on completion of my undergrad, I was uncertain about what direction I wanted to go in, so I continued in the role I was working in as a catering manager. At the same time, I was also competing at a high level in rowing and in 2018 I represented Ireland in the Lightweight double at the home international regatta.

Coman Competed at a High Level in Rowing

2. Where did you hear about the Higher Diploma in AI/ML at NCI?

I was interested in pivoting my career towards computer science and started to research college courses. I came across the Higher Diploma in Science in Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning at National College of Ireland on the Springboard+ website and thought it looked interesting. There was a lot of detail about the course, and it appeared to be well structured.

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

In 2020, due to the pandemic, I lost my job and all competition in my sport was cancelled. It was uncertain how long the situation would continue. I began to focus on continuing my education and pursued some short online courses via eCollege, an online learning service for further education and training through SOLAS. By the end of 2020 I had decided that I wanted to change my career and work in a technology role. Unfortunately, at this point I had missed the deadline for Springboard+ so I continued to work through short courses until the Springboard+ course became available.

The courses delivered by Springboard+ are very well funded for EU citizens and there is a requirement of all Springboard+ courses to provide career development training which was of huge benefit to me. The career development training really helped me to get comfortable with engaging in professional platforms such as LinkedIn and to improve my CV.

4. Tell us about your experience on the course.

The course begins with the basics of computer science and continues to build over the duration of the course. The assignments were interesting and very achievable. In the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning stream we had a couple of projects. For the AI module, I created a text summarisation programme that could create a short summary of news articles and then for my final project, I made a short-term wind weather forecast model to forecast the wind speed within about 3km/hr of the Met Éireann prediction. I deployed this in the cloud and made a website to host it. The projects were really helpful in interviews as I was able to demonstrate my technical knowledge by talking the interviewers through them.

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In September, after completing the course, I started to look for roles and by mid-October I was thrilled to have secured a graduate position with Fidelity Investments. I had learned about the position on LinkedIn and spoken to representatives at the gradireland Careers Fair in the RDS prior to my interview.

I’m really enjoying the graduate programme. Fidelity provides a lot of training and support for new graduates starting out their career in technology. My onboarding experience was made easier when I met other NCI graduates who were also going through the same experience and we are able to support one another.

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

Just go for it! I put a lot of work into it but got a lot out of it as well and felt it was a very achievable course to get through. I wish I had gone for it sooner. It also gave me more opportunities on completion that I wouldn’t have got by completing projects or online training myself.

Coman studied the Higher Diploma in Science in Computing Specialising in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at National College of Ireland through the Springboard+ initiative.

Springboard and HCI co-funder logos 2023


Topics: Springboard