Tomás Wilkinson had worked continuously for most of his adult life. Upon leaving school, he acquired many positions in various telecoms companies before securing a job in Telefonica O2 Ireland. For the next seven years Tomás worked his way up from retail assistant to a lucrative head office position. So it was a big shock when in 2012 after more than a decade of employment Tomás was made redundant.
“It was tough,” recounts the 30-year-old. “I had been with O2 for so long and done so well that I felt as though that job was a part of my identity. The day after I finished, I was sitting at home thinking what now?”
Emerging to an employment market fraught with uncertainty Tomás had few employment prospects. Surveying his CV he quickly realised that while he had a lot of experience, he had none of the qualifications featured on job application forms. Making the decision to go back to education so that he would ‘be the kind of candidate with the right experience and qualifications’ when the jobs market picked up again, Tomás took up a place on the Government’s Springboard initiative.
When it came to selecting a course he took a realist approach. Looking at where jobs were coming from and the businesses that were striving in the recession, Tomás decided that if he was going to have success in the future, chances are that it would be with a multinational company. As a result he was keen to undertake a course that focused on international business. In September 2012, the Louth man commenced the Higher Certificate in Business in Internationalisation with Mandarin Chinese at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT).
“I hadn’t seen any other courses that focussed on international business. It’s a rare, new course and I felt that it would give me the relevant skills I needed to succeed in the future. I also felt that the Chinese element to the course was a bonus as China is such a strong market. Understanding how they do business and to be able to speak some of the language would put me ahead of the game.”
One of the biggest obstacles Tomás faced was returning to formal education after being away from the books for over ten years.
“I had an uncomfortable feeling that college was just for 18-year-olds who had just finished school.”
However, after he began the course at DKIT, his fears disappeared almost immediately.
“The lecturers were fantastic. They were much more than teachers, they were mentors and advisors who were as supportive after class as they were during it – they gave us all a much needed confidence boost. he course itself was great and imparted knowledge and skills relevant to today’s job market.”