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Dr. Niamh O’Mahoney

Post-doctoral researcher in Micro-credentials can solve problems others don’t even see.

ND diagnosis or self-identify as:


Current job title:

Postdoctoral Researcher in Micro-Credentials at University College Cork.

What does your job involve?

In simple terms, my job is researching university education and how we can make the process more accessible and inclusive while fulfilling the skills gap.

Key responsibilities with my role include:
Develop teaching and learning guides to best practice
Complete qualitative research (focus groups and interviews) on the barriers and facilitators of Micro-Credentials.

Review the literature and complete a literature review.
Organise a Symposium on Micro-Credentials.

Degree/apprenticeship or route to current job:

BSc in Chemistry with Forensic Science.
PhD in Analytical Chemistry.

What were your challenges in school?

While I generally enjoyed school, there were definitely challenges for me. Particularly in secondary school (high school) and in undergraduate at university. I enjoyed learning and class. However, I found exams and studying challenging/stressful.
I had to learn to adapt my methods to fit into the social norm for taught and exam education. I really got to find my feet as a postgraduate student when written exams were a thing of the past.

What strategies/ assistive technology do you use to help you in your work?

Study study study study, I had to do twice the number of hours studying compared to my friends to get the same grades. Unfortunately, that looked like 8 weeks of 12 hours study days before exams.
Learn how to learn; invest time learning how YOU study best. Using an iPad, listening to audio instead of reading, using colour, mind mapping etc.
Embrace the support. Whether that’s extra time in an exam, spelling and grammar waiver or access to Grammarly. I love Grammarly. It was my best friend when I was writing my PhD thesis.

What ND skills have allowed you to succeed (or progress) in your STEM career?

Thinking outside the box/creativity.
Solving problems others don’t even see.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be so scared of failure. It’ll all work out. All you can do is your best every day; sometimes, that looks like an A in Math. Others look like a C in English. My dad always told me I’d be ‘better with age’, i.e. I would succeed and find it easier to succeed as I got older. He was right, but maybe not in the way I first expected. I anticipated I’d improve at adapting and fitting into the norm. But, what happened was after formal taught education (school and undergraduate), I had the space to find my way when it came to learning, which allowed me to develop a way to succeed that suited me. And as a forewarning, my spelling has not improved!!

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