The UCD Graduate Certificate in Digital Transformation, Technology & Resilience is now accepting applications for September 2023. 90% and 100% funded places are available to eligible candidates through the HEA Springboard+ Initiative.
I’m Ukrainian. I never planned to live in Ireland, or any other part of the world for that matter. I arrived here with two kids, my husband and my mother last year, because, when Russia invaded Ukraine, they occupied the city we called home. We had to run away, leaving the life we had made there behind. I also didn’t think I would need to study again. I had completed my Masters in Business Administration and my Bachelors in Accounting and Finance. I had already built a good career. I was the purchasing manager of a well known international manufacturing company. Back then, I felt like my life was “such an easy game to play.” I was established. I was settled. But as that expression goes, ‘never say never.’
When I received an invitation from University College Dublin Innovation Academy to apply for this course I must admit it was quite difficult for me to say yes to study again. But then, I found my backpack, and I took that as a sign.
You see, fifteen years ago, when I was living in London, I had copies of my diplomas and academic degrees notarized and translated into English with the intention of sending them to a university in the UK. I didn’t send them then – my husband and I decided to return to Ukraine – and they had remained in that backpack, untouched, until I found them, one week after receiving the invitation from UCD. When we left Ukraine, we threw as much as we could into every bag we had – it’s not like packing for a holiday – and that backpack piled up in an attic for over a decade with all of my university credentials stowed away in one of its pockets, was put into service. I was searching for something just before Christmas and I found all of these documents – documents I had no idea we had brought with us – at that precise moment when I was weighing up whether to do this course. I realised I definitely had to apply.
Now I can say that the course had a profound impact on me.
For the first half of the year in Ireland I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do with my new reality. I was just trying to manage the everyday needs of my family, trying to understand what I could do with this life. I realised that if I wanted to be successful in Ireland, I would need more knowledge, and I would need to build my confidence. Yes, I had my career back home, but nobody knew me here. I was thinking that if I got a diploma from an Irish university, recruiters would look at my curriculum vitae with a different perspective. Add to that the necessity to become more fluent in digital technology, something that, as UCD points out, is becoming more and more of a selling point for job candidates.
The focus of this graduate certificate is digital transformation but it became the transformation of me.
I had thought that the digital space was a ‘deep forest,’ a no-go space, scary, unknown, unmanageable, and definitely not for me. But this course completely upended that notion. It opened my mind and gave me the confidence to do things I thought I would never be able to do – block chain, for example. Before doing this course, I would have said, ‘no no no, leave that to someone else, leave it to a professional,’ but now I have a much broader understanding of how it works and how I can use it in my career. In module 2, working with my fellow students we built a new innovative “Planning Your day” app that sends suggestions on how to spend your free time based on your everyday activities. In module 3 we developed our own cryptocurrency, created a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), and made non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Can you imagine?
This course also opened up the idea of working remotely. Before doing this course, working remotely seemed quite depressing to me – sitting at home in front of my computer – but after this course, it was like a new life opened up for me and the idea of working remotely is no longer an issue. Regardless of where we were in Ireland, my fellow students and I were able to collaborate on a a variety of projects, discuss interesting topics, and even, to become friends. It gave me the chance to meet Irish people, and to get to know Irish culture and traditions.
The course made me feel younger. I recommend it to everyone I meet. It’s important not to be afraid of technology. We need to understand how quickly the world is changing and, no matter what age you are, how to be digitally young, not digitally elderly. The majority of us on this course were in our forties and above, and we did surveys to understand how digitally literate people are. People in their 50s can be more digitally elderly than people in their 70s. Through this course I learned, step by step, how to interact and take advantage of the advances in digital technology.
The course was a gift. It gave me an understanding that in this life everything is possible. You don’t have to stop, you just have to learn.
PS. Thank you to Dr Lollie Mancey, Jiaqi Zhang, Dorcas Reamonn for the unforgettable course.