As an electrician, it is common knowledge that the advanced entry into second year is possible and taking 2 years out of work to then be qualified as a level 7 electrical engineer is very tempting, says Conor O'Toole
Conor O’Toole from Mooncoin went straight into third level to do software systems development but soon realised that this was not the course for him. Conor decided to complete an electrical apprenticeship. During the apprenticeship he was drawn to return to his studies to study engineering and since completing this in March it is exactly what he has done.
What attracted you to study at South East Technological University?
WIT is the nearest institute to me with just a 10 minute drive so it made logical sense time wise and financially to attend SETU. Also from attending there when I left school I had a point to prove to myself to go back to somewhere where in my eyes I failed before and achieve what I could not do last time.
What have you done in life prior to studying here?
Worked in production in EirGen Pharma in Waterford. Apprentice electrician / electrician with Suir Engineering
What words of advice do you have for new students?
The first piece of advice I would give is to think that when you leave college you are going to be working a 9-5 job so why not get used to that now and attend every class and for time when you have a class off and free time go to the library and do some study or work on an essay or a report you have due. Doing this will give the students a taste for what working life is like and also make a dent in how work will need to be done outside of college hours.
What have been the highlights of your college experience?
The trip to Amsterdam that we attended early this year has to be the highlight of my college experience so far. The trip was very well organised for academic purposes but also for free time to roam the city also so it had the perfect blend of a work and play trip away. This is a part of college I never really envisioned before starting as coming from the working world and hoping to get back out there with a higher qualification pretty much as soon as possible, a trip where the student could learn but also enjoy themselves with other students from different engineering fields was something I overlooked before attending college.
What motivated you to return to education as a mature student?
As previously stated when I started the apprenticeship I was quite a bit older than usual and it was always in my head that I wanted to progress faster as I felt I was behind from the get go. I loved working as an electrician with the problem solving that you encountered on site but my favourite part of the job was thinking up ways of executing the job in the most efficient manor i.e. thinking of the best route to take for cable containment (the protection for the cable as it connects from point A to point B) in other words small scale designing of a job. This is where I felt I had to most interest and the section where most of the design of the job takes place is in electrical engineering.
What would you like to do after this course?
Want to go back into industry with a level 8 qualification in electrical engineering and find a job that suits me the most having taken all jobs into consideration.
Anything you'd like to add
As an electrician, it is common knowledge that the advanced entry into second year is possible and taking 2 years out of work to then be qualified as a level 7 electrical engineer is very tempting. However the financial sacrifice of this is what deters a lot of possible students seen from my time on site. It is therefore a choice that a newly qualified electrician will have looming over them but until there is some possible financial relief from industry (current employer) or a scheme, I don't see many people taking this route bar a select few. This then results in a road many have thought about but few have actually taken, which in our case we hope will pay off when looking for prospective jobs in the near future.