Welcome former Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh program participants. We would love to hear from you! Please let us know what you are up to. With your permission, we will publish a brief update on this web page, so that all of you can keep in touch with each other.
Hayley Mackin - Dundalk, ADL Horizons 2005
While I was in Pittsburgh I had such a great time. Everything we did was a great experience. I have learned so much about myself from the Wider Horizons experience and I loved having my own independence. When I returned home to Dundalk I got more responsibilities at work. But I really missed being in Pittsburgh. Thats when I applied for a job in Washington DC and I'm so excited to begin by new job as part of the bar staff at Daniel O'Connell's.
The Wider Horizons programme helped me in so many ways and I wouldn't be where I am without it.
Cormac McCloskey – Group 6
Cormac McCloskey, who returned home in May 2003, is currently working at Open + Direct a retail finance company based in the United Kingdom. His position is that of a Collections Supervisor. After returning to Northern Ireland upon completion of the overseas phase of the Walsh Visa Program, he began working with his company as a collections agent. He was recognized for his ability to lead and was promoted to the supervisory position in 2005.
His daily duties are quite varied including managing a team of ten collection agents, liaising with Debt collection companies, selling debt and creation of reports on both employee statistics and debt collection. He has also been asked to assist in Human Resources where he has now gained experience interviewing potential employees, staff training and recruitment.
Cormac feels that he would not have his current position had it not been for the Walsh Visa program. Whilst at Cardholder Management Services, he gained a valuable three years experience working within the Retail Finance industry, which serve him well in his current position.
Sean Reynolds - Group 10
Sean Reynolds, from Belfast, joined the Walsh Visa program in May 2002 in the hope of gaining some valid work experience to help him acquire long-term employment. Prior to applying for the program Sean had been made redundant from his company and amongst some of the jobs that he applied for was one with the Civil Service. Seeing an advertisement in his local employment office and with no reply forthcoming from the Civil Service, Sean applied for to come to Pittsburgh and was successful.
Returning home for a holiday while on the program fate took a turn and Sean received a letter of an interview and testing with the Civil Service. A decision had to be made! Should he return back to Pittsburgh and see the program through to its completion or pursue the Civil Service position. He decided to accept the position and contacted Hub staff to inform them of his decision.
Today Sean is employed as a Clerk administration officer at the Incapacity Benefits Branch Social Security in Belfast. Sean’s main duties are the processing of claims made within Northern Ireland. He deals mostly with people who are on sick welfare, taking their queries about benefits, processing their applications, updating their records and monitoring their accounts.
Keith Russell – Group 10
Keith Russell joined the Walsh Visa program in May 2002. While in Pittsburgh he worked for Philotechnics, an engineering company & Capital Technologies, an alternative energy technology company. His primary roles at both organizations were as Web Designer.
He is currently employed by Teletech, who are contracted to provide support for a United Kingdom Broadband service - UK Online. Amongst his many duties at Teletech, Keith is responsible for provision of technical support to customers who are either in the process of setting up their internet connections or are experiencing problems with it. The job calls for an expert knowledge of the Internet and an ability to troubleshoot the many varied issues that can present themselves.
Since returning home Keith has found it difficult to break into the Web Designing market and has now changed track by taking some Cisco Networking courses. He hopes to gain his qualification and then secure a job within the Networking arena.
John Killalea - Group 9
John Killalea, originally from Dublin, believes that the Walsh Visa program and the experience that he gained on it has played a major role in his life. He credits his time with Cardholder Management Services as having provided him with a springboard to further his career and has helped him secure a position with KPMG, one of the “Big 4” international accountancy firms.
When he returned from the US after just over 2 years, John began working at Permanent TSB, one of Ireland’s largest Banking and Financial institutions. The years experience there coupled with the two years credit collection experience at CMS were the key to providing John with the three years experience required for his current position at KPMG.
John is based at the Irish Financial Services Center in Dublin City Center and works in the Credit Control Department. His main duties are servicing accounts, provision of tax & VAT advice and processing accounts payable. He is enjoying the work immensely and has many fond memories of his time in Pittsburgh.
Nigel Moran - Group 10
Nigel, who hails from Carrick-On-Shannon, Co. Leitrim is currently working as an administrator for MBNA, a large multinational Credit Card company. He has gained a lot of experience during his time at the company, from servicing customer accounts to issuing payment requests.
While in the US, he worked at Cardholder Management Services and says that there are many differences between the style of collection between Ireland and the US. The US he feels is a harder sell with the agent putting a lot of pressure on the customer, whereas in Ireland, he is encouraged to work with them and attempt to get the customer on a payment plan in order to exact the repayment from them. He has had to learn debt counseling skills in order to cope with this difference.
He is currently dealing with Irish customers, but in the future he is looking forward to getting his ‘lenders license’ which will allow him to seek promotion opportunities.
Brian Donnelly - Group 10
While in Pittsburgh, as a member of Group 10, Brian Donnelly worked for Pittsburgh Collision. After returning home, he applied to the Civil Service in Belfast for a position. He interviewed, took an aptitude test and was successful getting a job as a customer services advisor with the Incapacity Benefits Branch of Social Security. Brian is based in Chichester Street, Belfast and, like his fellow Group 10 member Sean Reynolds (above) processes benefits for people who are receiving sick benefits.
Unlike Sean, whose clients are from Belfast, Brian works with clients from the Greater London area. His duties involve dealing with complaints, answer queries, administration, and servicing clients and their problems with payments.
For now the mechanic skills that he acquired while on the Walsh Visa program are being used more as a hobby but Brian does not rule out a return to this sector in the future.
Monica Shields - Cat. II
Monica, who was one of the Pittsburgh Hub’s three Category II participants is currently employed at Golden Pages within the Human Resources function of the Sales Department. Her position is quite varied and it is this variety that attracted Monica, from Newry, to the position. She is involved in analyzing the performance of over 120 staff members comparing their sales against projected targets.
She coaches and counsels individual employees who are not reaching their target sales in order to identify skills they may lack and schedules these employees for additional training.
Her other duties include weekly presentations to Sales & Finance managers outlining for them each department’s employee achievements versus their expected performance and conducts meetings between employees and managers in order to deal with any issues arising. As well as various administration and record-keeping, Monica is also responsible for co-ordinating various projects between, finance, marketing and sales.
Monica visited Pittsburgh in May of this year for a wedding and hopes to return again next summer for a longer vacation.
Ruth Brady – Group 8
Returning home to Ireland after 3 years on the program, Ruth Brady from Co. Leitrim has begun a new career! Ruth, who was a member of Group 8 is currently enrolled in Dundalk Institute of technology (D.I.T.) where she is studying an Honors degree in General Nursing. The course is 4 years long and when she graduates in Summer 2008, Ruth will be a qualified nurse. Her course is run in conjunction with the Irish Health Service executive – North Eastern Region and consists of 5 days a week class lectures and blocks of 16-week clinical placement at various health centers and hospitals in the North East.
So far she has studied Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology and Microbiology and has had a placement in Psychiatrics
Without doubt Ruth believes that had she not joined the Walsh Visa program and had the experience of working at Residence on Fifth in Pittsburgh she would not have returned home and studied nursing. The placement gave her the direction she needed to begin a successful career.
Upon completion of her degree, Ruth hopes to gain a further qualification that would allow her to specialize and work in a hospitals Emergency Department…but for now 1st Year exams are looming on the horizons.
The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh would like to congratulate Ruth all our participants on the successes they have had so far and wish them best of luck in their future endeavors.