Brian Long is currently in his third year of BSc (Hons) Business Information Systems. "I came over here from Ireland as a mature student. Having already completed a degree, in teaching, I took the difficult decision to come back to University as I didn’t feel I was finished with my education and wasn’t ready for working life just yet. I chose the course, Business Information Systems, as I feel that it is a mixture of two lucrative industries, business and computing, and I want to be part of something of that magnitude."
Brian continues, "I always had an interest in business but lacked technical skills, which is something I feel is necessary in today’s world, so here I am. Being from a small town in Ireland, of just over one thousand people, coming to Edinburgh, and Edinburgh Napier, was a big change, and one that I did not take lightly. Three years on and I have come to love this city. I can say that University life the second time round is very different; I am older, more mature and more focused on what I want."
"On hearing the possibility of a fifteen month placement, I jumped at it, as I felt that the experience gained would give me a great taste of working in the industry and provide my CV with something that many others would not have."
"I would go as far as saying it was necessary for me to complete, to be able to make decisions about my future."
Brian is completing his 15 month work placement at the University of Edinburgh in their IS Applications department. They are located in Dalhousie Land just off the Royal Mile.
"I work in the area of production management, which is responsible for the day-to-day support, monitoring and maintenance of many key services and systems within the University. My team, Technology Management, are made up of system administrators and database administrators who monitor and maintain live systems to minimise disruptions and down-time of services. Within my team, I work mostly as a systems administrator. I have my own responsibilities to tend to each week and have also had the opportunity to participate in projects to improve services. I have helped upgrade to a new password manager system, then update that system, and have also taken the lead in the population of a Configuration Management Database for which I have given presentations on how to use it to other colleagues."
Brian feels that he has gained a lot from this experience, both in knowledge and in lifestyle. "In terms of knowledge, I have learned so much about the technical aspects of computing. As a Business Information Systems student, I have always felt that my technical knowledge and experience was lacking, and was much more confident in the business aspects of our course. This was a worry going into a placement that I knew would be technical, but I think that it has been excellent for me and has allowed me to put technical information presented at University into practice in a real life setting, which has really helped develop my skills.
In terms of lifestyle, I would say before my placement I was a typical University student; late nights, lack of routine, and, at times, discipline. Working full-time, 9 to 5, has changed all that. I now feel that there is a balance and routine to my life, which I really like. It has changed me for the better as I now work hard during the week and know that going to bed at 10 has to happen to be able to function properly at work."
"I still enjoy my evenings and weekends but I feel that placement offers the opportunity to see what working life is like, and I believe that it really does prepare you for the next step which is leaving University."
"My newly acquired technical knowledge, the confidence I have gained working in this industry and the learning of an appreciation for routine will really help me with my studies moving forward. I am now starting to look beyond University life, to the future, and feel that placements help you mature and gravitate towards that thinking. I now strive to return to University and do my absolute best to secure an excellent degree so I will be attractive to employers and return to something like the life I have lived while on placement. I have really enjoyed it."
"The experience I have gained will 100% help me upon graduation."
"Edinburgh Napier provide support in the form of a personal tutor for work placements who tracks your progress, marks your reports and meets with you throughout the year to make sure that everything is going well. There are also those in the Placement Office who can be contacted with any issues that are being experienced and, as I can attest to, they are excellent at responding. I feel that the support is appropriate as they are there when you need them but also don’t hold your hand so you are able to experience placement as it should be, like working life."
"Support from the University and my manager in particular has been excellent. I was made to feel part of the team from day one and there wasn’t a question I couldn’t ask of my colleagues that they would not endeavour to answer. The University also provides a lot of options for training courses for staff, of which I have participated in some and improved my technical knowledge further. These are really worthwhile and comprehensive courses, and for a University student wanting to bolster my CV it really is a no-brainer to complete as many of these as possible to improve my attractiveness to potential employers in the future."
Brian sums up the experience in three words!
"Invaluable, Technical, Necessary."