When Caitriona O'Connor enrolled on an evening course in computing, she had no idea it would lead to a career in IT, writes Roisin Woolnough. A science teacher at the time, she took the two-year computer programming and information technology course so she could understand how computers worked.
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"However, I took to it instantly and found it interesting and easy," says O'Connor. "And within a few weeks of starting the course, I realised that IT was where I wanted to work."
But, finding an IT job in her home town of Limerick proved difficult - a problem encountered by many aspiring ITers in both Eire and Northern Ireland - and she decided to look further afield.
"Opportunities here weren't great, so I got on a plane and went to London. People in London were willing to give you a chance to develop skills."
In London, O'Connor managed to get an IT graduate trainee job. And over the next seven years, worked her way up through various programming jobs to development team leader and functional subsystem expert.
Then, after getting married and deciding she wanted to start a family, she went home, this time to Dublin. But there she found that the IT scene had changed dramatically.
"I was amazed at the transformation on my return - the IT industry has ballooned and there are a huge amount of opportunities," she says.
"In fact, people over here have a fresher attitude towards things, and it's easy to get involved in different projects. In London there's a very definite career path, whereas here it's very much 'jump and try things'. You can just take some skills and transfer them."
This flexibility has allowed O'Connor to end up as project manager within the systems delivery practice section of IT management consultancy firm DMR, working in customer relationship management.
Name: Caitriona O'Connor
Job: project manager, systems delivery practice, DMR
Qualifications: BSc higher diploma in education, City and Guilds in computer programming and information technology
IT skills: PL1, DL1, IMS, MVS JCL, Objectstar and CRM implementation and support
Hobbies: relaxation, socialising, walking
Fave book: Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt
Favourite film: LA Confidential
Best thing about Ireland: living near family but being able to escape to the countryside
Worst thing about Ireland: the weather - but it rained a lot in London too!
Best thing about working in IT: it is constantly changing
Worst thing about working in IT: we sometimes make the same mistakes as those we made with old technologies