This is my final blog for RES701, I’ve really enjoyed the course. For this final post I was planning on looking back over the blog posts I have done and commenting on how what I have learned and if my thinking has changed, but I’m not going to do that.

Instead I want to write about some of my reflections on the BIT course overall.

This week has been really interesting, there’s been a lot of work to do, as there always is at the end of semester.  But as I tick the assignments off one by one and the light at the end of the tunnel starts to glow brighter it has occurred to me that the end of this semester is the end of an era really. This is really the last semester when this gang of people that I started to study with will be together on a regular basis, from here on its projects and then we’re all off to the real world to see how we really fare.

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It’s been two and a half years since this journey began. I still remember coming in and signing up for the course, I was working part time in the pub and part time at the cinema at the time.  I was a lot healthier too.  I really didn’t know what to expect, going back into education after 20 years of working. I think I only really signed up because I was at a bit of a loose end and I discovered that I could get a student loan, life was ticking along quite nicely to be honest, but I think I must have been pretty bored of my job/s.  So sign up I did and not long after I found myself at my first challenge week doing treasure hunts and other unexpected games.

Initially I signed up part time, only 75% of full time. That was because I thought the workload would be huge and I was still working 20-odd hours a week.  I was wrong, the first year was much easier than I expected and I probably could have done it full time and still worked to be honest.  I guess all that life experience makes a difference when it comes to planning your time, oh and owning a computer since 1983, longer than most of the other students have been alive, is a probably a bit of a head start too.

So the first year came and went, I managed to come top in a couple of papers and was top student in the year, awards that I didn’t know even existed.  But really nice to win.

Second year was a slog, a really enjoyable slog, I took 7 technical papers, mainly software Development & Database related, I learned so much about both subjects.  There were HUGE frustrations, there were heavy workloads, there was boredom sometimes too. But really, looking back it was a great year, I guess I learned a lot about IT and about myself, I’d like to say that I learned stuff about myself and changed for the better, but no, I just learned stuff about myself, that’s alright though, better the devil you know.

So the second year ended, I won top student again, this time it meant something to me because I had set myself the goal of winning it, I thought I needed to set a goal to keep myself motivated. I worked really hard to win that award and so I was really relieved to achieve what I had set out to do.  In the Second year, as you really  start to specialize you don’t see as much of some people that you had just spent a whole year around.

Third year, oh the third year. You don’t seem to see any of the people that you started with any more, sometimes you wonder if they are still even on the course. Its been different again, maybe because the second year was so full on – I’m not sure – but I’ve not been able to get myself into this third year.  Maybe its because I’m doing 2 non-technical papers, and one of the technical ones if a group project, not my forte.  Maybe it’s because I was lucky enough to go to China and after three weeks teaching in Huang Zhou it was very hard to come back to study.

But now this first semester is nearly over and next semester I won’t be at the college much due to project commitments and then the three years is over.  Wow, it seems like a long time since I started, but also I remember it like yesterday.

So what have I got from these three years, well as I said, its been a great journey.  I should probably say that my favorite memory was the moment a tutor that marks very fairly actually scored me 103% in an assignment, that meant a lot.  But maybe the thing I will remember most about these three years is a memory from the very first week, I was sitting next to a girl in the computer lab, we had to dismantle an old PC and put it back together, she was terrified, never done anything like that before.  But she managed it no problem, by the end of the semester she was pretty much top of the class (behind me 😛 ) and now 2 years on she is working in the ITS team at NMIT – I really like that.  There’s been times when I’ve been able to sit down and help people with problems with that are genuinely stumped by, and fellow students have helped me when I’ve been stuck. I’ve learned more about programming than I thought I could, and learned how much I don’t know, which is scary. I met a beautiful girl on the very first day and we’re still together.  I’ve been to China and Wellington, both places with a great group of people.  I’ve written software that I’m super proud of, it might be a piece of crap to most people, but to me I’ve made some masterpieces.  Put simply, I’ve had a ball.

I went for a job interview this week, and it turns out I know the guy, well, he used to drink in the pub I worked at anyway.  First thing he said to me at the interview “I remember having a conversation with you when you had started this course and you said you struggle with OO programming.”

Last thing he said as I walked out the door “I think you made the right choice going to NMIT” and a couple of hours later he offered me the job, well, I say job… its actually 300 odd hours unpaid work placement, but it’s a start (and it doesn’t involve popcorn).

When I studied 20 years I wasted the chance. So this time before I started I made a conscious decision that I would give it my best shot, I’ll be honest there have been times when I’ve wanted to just walk away, but I’ve got my head down and got on with it and that comment from the interview guy made the last 2 and a half years feel more than worthwhile.

To top that Leicester City won the league, if that can happen then anything is possible.  Onwards and Upwards and thank you NMIT, what a great department and bunch of tutors.

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