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Change of direction pays off for group of graduates

By Joanne Sweeney

A change in career direction has led to eight post-graduates getting a well-paid job in one of Northern Ireland's foreign direct investment companies.

The young University of Ulster graduates have backgrounds in a diverse range of areas from music to English literature and will graduate on Thursday after completing an intensive one-year masters conversion course.

They have all retrained to secure software development positions with international financial services firm Citi.

The six men and two women are among the 1,800 UU undergraduates and postgraduates who will celebrate their academic success over three days of ceremonies at Jordanstown today and tomorrow and at the Millennium Forum in Londonderry on Wednesday.

They all undertook the MSc Professional Software Development degree, which aims to equip students from non-computing backgrounds with the technical skills to thrive in Northern Ireland's growing IT sector.

Now employed, graduate Niamh Cochrane said last night: "The conversion course gave me the opportunity to boost my knowledge of the sector and develop skills that I could immediately put to use in the working world.

"My undergraduate degree was in music, but with news of job creation in the IT sector never far from the headlines, I decided to change my career path"

She added: "Taking the plunge to retrain has truly paid off for me."

In welcome news last month, Citi announced that it was creating 600 new jobs paying salaries of about £35,000 a year in a £54m investment.

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