Maeve Ahern O’Neill took part in the Springboard+ programme in 2014. Here, she tells us about her experience on the programme, the course she chose, as well as the benefits she gained overall.
“I had worked in marketing and communications in Dublin and Cork for almost 15 years when I was made redundant as a result of the economic downturn. After seeking work in Cork for over a year, and constantly being met with rejection, I was finding it more and more difficult to remain upbeat and not allowing it to get me down. The feeling of hopelessness is one I (now) know I was not alone in. It was a very easy time to lose my confidence. There were gaps in my skillset that needed to be filled, especially with how quickly the world of marketing was changing. It was no longer just marketing; it was all things digital. Although I was self-taught in a lot of areas, I had nothing to show for it and I needed something to make myself more employable.
As I was on social welfare, the Springboard+ programme was a suitable option. The number of courses available, both online and on campus, was a little overwhelming as I wasn’t sure what direction to take but I knew I needed skills in digital to fill that gap. As I looked at my background I realised that the MA in Digital Humanities in University College Cork would be the perfect option to fill the gap in my skillset.
The course itself was a way to look at how our lives have changed because of the introduction of digital tools. I had no idea the number of available websites, apps and devices out there to help us with a countless array of tasks! The course opened my eyes to a different world and the possibilities that were there for the taking. The choices of subjects allowed me to decide the direction to take for the future and how to build upon my existing knowledge and skills. It also suited me as a mother of two school-going children as the course was blended between on campus classes and work and research at home. The lecturers and staff in UCC enabled me to build my confidence again and guide me throughout the year - I actually miss attending the classes!
During my year at UCC, each module paved the way for me to decide on my thesis research topic. The course made me realise that although I thought I was employable, in actual fact I wasn’t. Due to digital platforms, like websites and different social media tools, recruiters need to be able to find the right candidates. To them I was just a profile on LinkedIn without any details. With this in mind, I began to establish a professional online persona during my time in UCC; I had created a personal brand. During my time in UCC and because of my new online presence, I was now being called for interviews as recruiters could see what I was sharing online and they had become interested in me.
While I researched personal branding for my thesis, interest in my research had grown throughout UCC and I realised that there was a business opportunity open to me and one I never had considered before. Therefore, after I had completed my thesis, I established The Branding of Me in October 2015. Since then, I have been delivering masterclasses and workshops throughout Ireland for business; guest lecturing in UCC and NUIG; helping individuals create a personal brand for career progression and aiding managers at all levels of business enhance their online persona along with start-up businesses like myself.
If you are not sure if taking a course through Springboard+ is right for you, think again. No matter what level you are at with your skills, there is always something to learn and there is always an opportunity waiting for you.”
Maeve Ahern O’Neill
UCC Graduate – MA Digital Arts and Humanities, 2015
Founder of The Branding of MeBack