Ronan lives in Waterford and studied a BSc in Engineering with The Open University. Having completed his Leaving Cert in 2002, he did an apprenticeship in Mechanical Fitting for 4 years during which he studied part time for a Diploma in Maintenance Technology at CIT, attending night classes.
Along the way, people encouraged him to carry on his studies and obtain an engineering degree, but Ronan wanted to travel so put study on the back burner. It was always on his mind to return to study at some stage, but he didn’t want to commit to night classes or full-time study. He moved to the company he currently works for and a promotion came up. He applied but was not successful. On reflection of this experience, he was encouraged to go back and get that degree he had always been putting off so he could be a better candidate for promotions in the future.
Having previously experienced night classes, he found this method of learning tough, having to be in a particular place at a particular time. His head was not in the game at night, and it just was not a suitable style of learning for him. There weren’t many part-time options of study close to where he was living in his chosen subject of engineering.
“I had heard of the OU just from advertising on TV, so I started to look into it, and it seemed to be the best fit with my circumstances giving me the most flexibility of all the options that were on the table.” Said Ronan.
His employer agreed to sponsor his study as there was mutual benefits in this. Ronan advises, “It is certainly worth a discussion with your company to see if this is an option.”
“I had doubts about my capability to be able to take on an engineering degree, but I would have been disappointed if I had shied away from the challenge forever.”
Opportunities started to open for Ronan. “I was lucky that not long after starting my degree a role came up which was exactly what I wanted and given that I had made the commitment to getting the degree and with my experience I was offered and accepted the job. So, I am now a practicing engineer for about 2 years, which is the best of both worlds as by the time I finish my degree I will also have roughly 3 years’ experience as an engineer also. Let’s see what happens after that…” Having finished his degree, Ronan now works within the same company as a Business Development Manager.
Ronan commented on how OU study has changed him as a person “I have certainly put my self-doubt to bed about whether I am capable of completing a degree, I am a lot more confident in taking on complex tasks at work or in my personal life.”
Ronan’s advice to anyone considering OU study is “Don’t put it off, if you want to do a course just jump in and do it, you won’t regret it! Once you have made that decision my next bit of advice would be to manage your time well and do your best to get ahead and stay ahead in your studies, this will take a lot of pressure off knowing you have a cushion of a week or so if something were to knock you off course for a small bit.”
When asked about how he found studying during the pandemic, Ronan said “I have to say it has been great to be honest, I have been working at home a lot so that has taken the commute out of my day and given me back an hour and a half that I could put in to studying.”
Ronan sums up his experience studying with the OU to date “It has been an excellent experience; it can be tough going when you’re in the middle of modules with tricky content but when you hit the milestones along the way of submitting assignments and completing modules there is a great sense of achievement and for me it had already paid off. So, of the big life changing things you can consciously go and do it is up there as one of the best of them.”
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