UCC Academy graduate programme a success thanks to variety of opportunity on two-year programme

8 Apr 2022

We recently caught up with Aoife Tierney and Ian Dooley who joined UCC Academy through our graduate programme in 2020.

One of the great things about being a graduate is being able to see something that interests me and ask to be put on it and see behind the scenes, says Aoife Tierney.

A graduate of BSc in Government from UCC, Aoife joined the UCC Academy’s graduate programme in 2020 hoping to build on her interests in education policy. Now 18 months into the two-year programme, she points to the variety of opportunity across UCC Academy as being crucial to her own career growth into the future.

I’ve worked on so many projects over the past 18 months, supporting with the Business School on a marketing and communications project, while also working on a project that involved a partnership with a Chinese university, which brought an international element to my programme that I really enjoyed.

As UCC Academy continued to support clients on more and more projects, the Graduate Development Programme was introduced in 2020 to bring young minds on board and foster their own leadership and commercial skills while supporting the growth of University College Cork’s in-house consultancy.

In partnership with the Irish Management Institute, the programme was designed to provide professional and personal support to graduates aiming to fast-track their career in project management.

Aoife explains that joining UCC Academy at a time when many businesses were forced into remote working could have been challenging but insists the support she received throughout, and the existing flexible working model within the Academy made onboarding an easy process.

It was a bit strange being remote, but it was great to have the support of the team from the beginning.  The company was delivering a few essential projects on campus and as soon as it was permitted, we were invited to go to campus to meet the CEO, Arlene Vithaldas, so she could personally welcome us to the company. 

For me it was really getting to grips with what the project centre did and we met a lot of the heads of units, one-on-one meetings with people within the business to understand their role and how it related to what we do. If anything, it has made me even more excited for the rest of the graduate programme and the coming months.

Aoife is one of two graduates who joined the programme in 2020. Ian Dooley, a graduate of UCC’s BSc in Business Information Systems also joined the Academy as a graduate analyst in 2020. Ian currently supports across the project centre with administrative and analytical tasks on a variety of projects.

When I heard of the graduate programme, I thought it would be interesting to work in the university sector and the fact that you’re exposed to the senior project managers and you see where your work makes an impact. So, I applied and the transition into the role was made very easy, Ian says.

With UCC Academy supporting on a wide variety of projects, and each with unique challenges and opportunities, Ian describes the collaborative culture among teams as a highlight of his time on the graduate programme to date.

I was given introductions to each business unit when I started which was very useful to give me an idea as to what each part of the business was doing because each unit is so distinct and the company is such a diverse place. Having another graduate sharing the experience and empathise was great too.

Arlene Vithaldas, CEO at UCC Academy says:

The success of the programme stems from our ability to attract excellent graduates who are interested in making a contribution to the higher education sector and gaining valuable skills that they can take out to other industries throughout their career. 

Our partnership with fellow UCC subsidiary, IMI means that a small graduate programme in a company such as ours can have a formal education element that enables our graduates build their network with their peers in different industries.

UCC Academy and its teams look forward to growing the graduate development team and supporting more graduates into the future.

Related article: UCC Academy welcomes graduates to their 2020 Graduate Programme

UCC Academy

UCC Academy DAC, University College Cork, Western Gateway Building 2.02, Western Road, Cork. Registered Charity Number: 20141431 ,