Zara Kineen
Zara Kinneen is a Software Engineer at Accenture. She explains how she took a roundabout route to find her true calling in a STEM career.
Job title
Software Engineer
Industry
Software Engineering
Company
Accenture
Experience
Bachelor of Arts (NUIG). Conversion course in Software Design and Development (NUIG). Masters in Software Engineering (Athlone IT)

Can you describe your job?

I work as a Software Engineer primarily with frontend technologies, however depending on which project I’m on there are opportunities to work with a wide range of technologies from building web services to virtual and augmented reality and even robotics. A typical work day involves a daily stand-up meeting where the team discuss what we’re working on, we then plan out and implement solutions to the different problems that are brought to us.

 

Did you do STEM for Leaving Cert and in University?

I studied Biology and pass Maths in the Leaving Cert as did the rest of my class, yet when I went to college I studied Applied Maths and enjoyed it which quickly made me realise that I would have done it at an earlier stage given the encouragement. In University, the first time around, I studied a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Sociology and Politics in NUIG, although I enjoyed this I did not see a career path. I then travelled to Australia where I worked as an office administrator for an educational software company. This is where I was awakened to the world of software development and began to learn to code in my own time through watching tutorials and doing online courses. I really enjoyed this and decided to move home to Ireland to upskill, firstly completing a conversion course in Software Design and Development, in NUIG, and then I studied a Masters in Software Engineering in Athlone IT.

 

You clearly love STEM, why did you not do it straight after Leaving Cert?

Although I studied some STEM subjects in school, I never had the opportunity to study Software Engineering at that point. It was only later whilst working alongside Engineers that I was exposed to the subject. I realised, through that experience, that Software Engineering was where I wanted to build my career.

 

Has your opinion of STEM changed since school?

Absolutely! There are more opportunities out there now for young kids to find out about it, with the likes of CoderDojo; families are talking about it now. That’s where the future is going so it makes sense for parents to get their kids involved at a young age.

 

What do you love about your job?

I get to work with great people from all over the world and from different backgrounds, not just Software Engineering but Design, Analytics, Research and more.  The best thing about my job is getting to work with the latest technologies in order to solve unique and interesting problems to improve businesses across many different industries. I also get to travel – I recently travelled with some of my teammates to a JavaScript conference in Paris where I got to meet lots of people with similar interests and also got to learn about up and coming technologies.

 

What inspires you in your job?

I’m inspired by the opportunities to incorporate the latest technologies to improve people’s everyday life. 

 

Is there a good work/life balance?

Yes the work life balance is very good, generally each day is 9.00 – 5.30.

 

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in STEM?

Try some online courses and try to get exposure to the subjects. Don’t be afraid of failing, take the risk and try it. I would also recommend keeping on one STEM subject at least in Leaving Cert.