My name is Emma Kilduff. I am a software development manager in MetLife Innovation Centre, Galway. In July 2018, I made the decision to apply for the Female Leadership Scholarship (30% Club), associated with the MSc Technology Management. Being a mother of a 3 year old boy, a soccer coach to 3 underage girls teams in addition to working in a newly opened technology centre, I figured, why not take on a masters! In mid-late August I received the confirmation that I had been awarded the scholarship and there was no turning back at that stage.
First day of the course on September 1st, I arrived in NUI Galway ready to take on the world, or at least the MSc Tech Mgt! Of course, with all the excitement of receiving the scholarship and being a student once again, I had not begun to contemplate the implications of what I had taken on, i.e. commitment to study for two years and the workload which was about to come my way in the subsequent months. With more naivety than I care to admit to, I and approximately 60 others sat in a room in Cairnes Building listening to two MSc alumni talk about their experiences on the MSc. It was interesting to hear past experiences, what the challenges were and receive suggestions on how best to cope with the upcoming onslaught of work which was about to start. “You will need to commit to 30-40 hours effort per week”, “Time management will be crucial”, “You need to be structured and prioritize”. To be honest, I, and many of my peers, did not buy into whatever they were selling. We dismissed “30-40 hours” as mere propaganda. Successful completion of a one-day workshop and we knew better, i.e. 20 hours a week would be sufficient (this was part-time after all, right?!). It was approximately 3-4 weeks before reality set in and those 30-40 hours seemed light in terms of the workload.
The months between September and December were hectic; consumed with readings, discussion posts, forum reviews, project work (both individual and group), one too many ‘late night panic’ to meet the looming deadlines, 3 year old deleting a bunch of notes I had saved on my laptop (note to self… keep 3 year old in a separate room to laptop at all times!). It was tough to catch a minute. I am very lucky to have a very supportive husband who takes care of the chores I previously did (or claimed to do!) However, as tough as it , to the point where I sometimes contemplated throwing in the towel, submitting that final assignment at the end of the semester was such a fantastic feeling – a real sense of accomplishment (maybe a little premature considering I didn’t get any grades back yet but I chose to enjoy the moment none the less!). While I had a hiatus from the main cooking, cleaning responsibilities at home (thanks hubby!) to allow me focus on work commitments (sometimes 60+ hours per week) and the workload of the MSc, the weeks off between semester 1 and 2 were extremely welcome. I looked forward to the downtime and, oddly, the cooking and cleaning.
On to Semester 2, I am a little more rounded (literally!), a little wiser, less naïve for sure and less panicked about the pending workload. Over the Christmas break, I had an opportunity to reflect and contemplate what I had experienced in the past 4-5 months. I am proud that I made it through that first semester, considering my complete naivety and lack of proper structure. I have learned a number of valuable lessons in the past 4-5 months, life lessons as well as how better to navigate the upcoming semester. Firstly, time management and prioritization are crucial to succeeding on this MSc… hmm where have I heard that before! Secondly, imperfection is ok – at the start of semester 1 I planned to read every chapter of every textbook to ensure I really got value from the course. Impossible! Then life happened. My 3 year old son kindly brought home one of those lovely winter bugs from crèche and, in true family style, we spent the next few months sharing it back and forth. Fun! Lastly, take one semester at a time. This may seem obvious, however, if I look beyond May 2019, I will become overwhelmed by things I cannot yet control or influence. My perspective on this is that there is no benefit in stressing about the potential workload that is coming in September 2019 and beyond. I will focus on what I can currently control. Additionally, life will throw a few curve balls between now and May – would be boring otherwise I suppose!
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