Waterford native loved every minute of her time in WIT and talks about getting to pitch a marketing campaign to the CEO of Kerry Group Europe
Rachel O’Shea from Tramore, Co Waterford is a graduate in Bachelor of Business (Hons) with French and is a past pupil of Stella Maris, Tramore.
My name is Rachael O'Shea. I'm from Tramore, Co Waterford and graduated from WIT in 2018. I was delighted to have been awarded Marketing Student of the Year in my final year at WIT.
What attracted you to study at Waterford Institute of Technology?
I chose to study BBS [as the Bachelor of Business (Hons) is known] in WIT for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’m a Waterford woman so the location is ideal. I was lucky enough to be able to live at home while in college but I also had peace of mind knowing that accommodation prices aren’t nearly as expensive as they are in other locations across the country.
Being from Waterford, I knew a number of people that had attended WIT and I only ever heard good things about both WIT and the degree itself.
As an institute of technology, I knew that the lecture sizes would be much smaller than those of universities. What this meant for me as a student was support when needed from lecturers that know you well.
Did you always know this was the course you wanted to do?
In a way, I knew I always wanted to have a career in marketing. However, I definitely wasn't certain. I loved how the BBS degree gives you the freedom to choose your discipline two years in.
Although deep down I always knew I wanted to do marketing, I liked having the option of streaming into one of the other available disciplines such as HR or management.
What have you done in life prior to studying here?
Prior to (and during) my time at WIT, I worked in radio. I worked part-time in the Beat 102-103 Marketing Department, was a brand ambassador at public events and had my own show!
What words of advice do you have for new students?
First and foremost, don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. The jump from secondary school to college is a big one, and you'll only get from it what you give to it. Make sure to try new things, meet new people and don't let yourself run away with your new found freedom.
Set up your LinkedIn: You'll do a huge amount of networking while you're in college so don't let it go to waste. You never know when you'll cross paths with someone again.
Don't underestimate the value of being on campus. In WIT, there's always something happening. Be that Beat 102-103 broadcasting live from the atrium or mental health talks in WITSU - you'll never be bored.
What have been the highlights of your college experience?
I genuinely can’t say enough great things about WIT and the lecturers there. The four years absolutely flew and although it’s understandably challenging and difficult at times, there’s a fantastic support network available to make sure you get the most of your time there.
One of my key highlights from my time at WIT was a team project we completed in our final semester. We got the opportunity to pitch a marketing campaign for a new product to Malcolm Sheil, Kerry Group Europe CEO, and some of Kerry Group’s Senior Management Team. Although my team didn’t win, the experience we gained from this was extremely practical.
Other highlights include meeting Doireann Garrihy in the atrium, winning a brand new iPhone on campus (never underestimate the value of being on campus!) and taking part in a 10,000ft sky dive in aid of Raise and Give Week.
What did you like about Waterford as a city to live in/to study in?
Waterford itself is an extremely easy city to get around. WIT is centrally located but far enough away that you're not spending hours stuck in traffic going to / from college. I spent my first year in college getting the bus in and out (there's a bus stop right outside the door) and then drove to and from college for my final three years. Parking is free and plentiful which is very useful.
You're also only 10 minutes away from the beach (which is such an underrated bonus) meaning you can take a trip out to Moe's if you want to get out for some lunch.
How work placement add to your college experience?
For my flexible semester, I spent 8 months with Momentum Events, an event management company based in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford. Although I still slightly regret not going abroad and using my French (sorry Dermot Moore!), I truly believe that these 8 months equipped me so well for “the working world”. I was well and truly given the reins and after no time, I was organising corporate events for some of Ireland’s most recognised brands (such as IKEA, Vodafone, LinkedIn, Fidelity Investments, etc.). The placement gave me such practical experience that I still use regularly.
After completing my course I...
I’m currently working with Taxback Group as their Head of Employee Experience. I joined the company back in 2018 after a (very) brief stint in Sales. If you’ve never heard of Taxback Group, we’re a collection of global companies that offer corporate financial solutions to some of the world’s largest multinationals. Our companies include TransferMate, Immedis, Taxback International and Taxback.com.
With over 1500 employees all over the world, I deliver both national and global engagement and communications initiatives within the group. Essentially, my role centres around employee experience and ensuring that, regardless of their location, all of our employees consider us as a Great Place to Work. My key responsibilities include leading our Great Place to Work initiative, managing our CSR Program “Taxback Give Back”, event management and marketing/PR.
How did your experience at WIT help get you to where you are now?
I consider myself extremely lucky to have found a job that I love and I truly believe that completing the BBS Degree in WIT played a huge role in this. The versatility of the degree prepares you for things that you don’t even know you need preparing for! For example, accounting was never a strong point of mine, however the modules I did complete in my degree equipped me to manage our global CSR, Great Place to Work and Wellness Budgets. Similarly, my role is quite a hybrid of Marketing and HR, so having basic HR knowledge helps me hugely.