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The class of 2021: What today’s STEM graduates can expect

15 Oct 2021

We’ve spoken to several graduates and employers to find out what the class of 2021 can expect as they begin their careers.

Throughout the last six weeks, we’ve heard from sci-tech graduates who are now working in areas ranging from pharma R&D to software development.

These profiles can help give today’s graduates, as well as those still in education, an insight into what their first steps into the working world might look like.

Cassandra Ezechukwu joined the financial services consulting graduate programme at EY, while Cormac Butler joined the company as a data analyst.

While working in different areas of the business, both spoke about the responsibilities they were given while under the helpful guidance of more senior colleagues. “You’re not left alone to sort of fend for yourself,” said Ezechukwu.

EY is just one of several professional consultancy firms in Ireland that offer graduate programmes. We also heard from PwC’s Colin Hehir, who joined its programme after graduating in 2019.

He gave some insight into what it’s like working in risk assurance and what he enjoys most about his job. “I enjoy understanding different business environments since they are more complex and connected than ever before,” he said.

In the data and fintech space, we also spoke to three graduates working at Citi about what their experience has been like and why they chose that particular programme.

Tech graduates

For those wanting to learn more about a more technical graduate programme, Ian Quain talked about how much stronger he became as a software developer because of the graduate programme at Liberty IT.

“My technical skills developed much faster than they had previously in academia because I was writing code every day and it was being scrutinised to ensure that we were sticking to best practices.”

Avanade Ireland’s Maud Farrow was looking to learn more about tech and data, and she spoke about the training she received when she joined the company’s graduate programme

“We were all split into more specific streams, based off our interests and skills. Within these streams we focus on honing the skills which will be most beneficial to us,” she said. “Once training is completed, we will be put on projects, where the scope of our work will depend on the specific project.”

Another data professional, Jeevan Mysore Harish, talked about his experience of the graduate programme at the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics (ACIA).

He said the programme gave him the opportunity to improve soft skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, decision making and leadership. “In short, this programme helped me to gain both technical and soft skills while I was working on a real project.”

Deloitte’s Sanjana Pai also talked about how both her technical and soft skills have improved because of the graduate programme, while Fidelity Investments’ Eileen Rattigan talked about the value of getting to experience different opportunities as an associate software engineer.

“I felt I needed to build my skills in industry to bridge the gap between student and employee, without the pressure of specialising into one area immediately,” she said.

Science graduates

For those who bridge the gap between science and technology, Accenture’s Sam Bolger explained why he moved into business and tech even though his degree was in science.

And while the options are plentiful for those with a science background who want a career in technology, there are also plenty of graduate opportunities for those who are looking to stay on the science path.

Balamurali Sreekala discussed the hands-on experience he gained in the Johnson & Johnson graduate programme, including working with 3D-printing technology.

Meanwhile, Amgen’s Philip Ryan told us how he ended up with the pharma company after studying biotechnology and how important it has been for his career.

“I probably wouldn’t have the role I’m in now without the graduate programme. It’s been that influential in how my career has progressed,” he said.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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