As a twenty-something I am often questioned about my next steps in life. As annoying as that question gets to routinely answer, it means that I am constantly checking my decision-making compass to ensure that I am indeed heading toward my desired destination. That compass led me to apply to the Mitchell and move to Dublin, where my goals are to learn from the people who are the best at what they do, work hard in my graduate programme, and to plug into the Dublin tech community.
My decision to apply for the Mitchell Scholarship stemmed from a motivation to develop some of the skills that are necessary to purposefully begin a career in the tech startup world. Over a year before I even considered applying for the Mitchell again (I got rejected the first time) I stumbled across the programme description for the MSc in Creative Digital Media on the Dublin Institute of Technology’s website. I want to learn how to take the ideas in my head about app development, education, travel, and entrepreneurship and act on them. I seek to learn how to rapidly prototype ideas with enough skill to demonstrate proof of concept, and to have the vocabulary needed to effectively communicate with and understand the limitations of the team of industry experts that I will one day build. The programme at DIT touches on all of these concepts. Dublin is also one of the hottest places to be in Europe for tech startups, and it seemed as good a place as any to begin my career. So I reapplied for the Mitchell, and this time was successful.
I arrived in Dublin a month before the other Mitchells in order to complete an internship with a very successful Irish tech entrepreneur named Sean Blanchfield. Thanks to an intro by Trina, Sean and I connected and set up a summer internship to work with him on his current project, an ad tech startup called PageFair. I arrived in Dublin and began work at PageFair, which Sean founded with fellow entrepreneurs Brian McDonnnell and Neil O’Conner. My introduction to Ireland was through the guys at PageFair, who continue to be a really important part of my time here. My summer internship ended and I continue to work part-time at PageFair, taking on projects that reinforce what I am learning at DIT and help this really well organized startup to develop in key areas. I am lucky to be part of such a great team at PageFair; what I am learning from Sean, Neil, Brian, Miles, and Scott- really brilliant computer scientists with a passion for entrepreneurship- is invaluable to my professional development and tied directly to my purpose in coming to Ireland.
Shortly after moving to Dublin my graduate programme began. Having been a teacher and holding a graduate degree in education means that I am a rather critical student, and I am pleased so far with the programme at DIT. It is very hands-on and nicely spirals knowledge and concepts; what we learn in each class is reinforced in others and culminates in projects that utilize everything we are learning in the programme to create a product. This semester that product is an iPhone game, which I am in the midst of debugging. Coming to the App Store Jan. 2015! For our Master’s Project we create an app of our own invention, which I am most excited to do.
The last of my goals is to plug into the tech and startup communities here. The best resource that I have found is the Dublin Startup Digest, which lists many of the startup events going on every day in the city. I try to hit a few of them a week and enjoy going to them, grabbing a pint, and talking to people who either own startups or are looking to do so in the future. I also volunteered at the Dublin Web Summit, which is the biggest conference of its type in Europe (this year there were over 20,000 attendees). Volunteering also means that I could also attend for free! The Summit was three days of tech, startups, and the future. I loved every moment of my time at that conference and cannot wait until next year’s.
I am making some good friends in Dublin as well, and am really enjoying my time here. I haven’t seen much of the rest of Ireland yet, and hope to spend some time touring the country and exploring Northern Ireland. As the holiday season rolls around and Semester One comes to a close, I am looking forward to the traditional Twelve Pubs of Christmas where I can spend time with classmates and friends and show off my ugly Christmas jumper around this charming city that is now my home.