Changing directions, new friends and aspirations

It’s been sixteen years since I stood beside the lake at Belfield and stared across the water shimmering in the autumn sun. Back then, O’Reilly Hall behind me played venue to my graduation day. We were a close group of BA graduand friends. Then, how we celebrated – hats thrown in the air, (too many) drinks taken and bright futures ahead of us all.

Regrettably a massive financial crash the following year, along with the general march of time, scattered us. 

Four young people smiling in front of an ornamental lake, with university buildings in the background
Author’s study team in from of the UCD lake
From left to right: Harsh, Vaishali, Luke and Kumuta

Today it’s just a few weeks into the first semester of my MBA at Smurfit Business School and the same hall is hosting a careers fair which I’m visiting with the three other members of my new study group. It didn’t take us long to become friends – luckily for us, we turned out to make a great team. But I can’t help but feel nostalgic about my first time here as we ask a passer-by to snap a picture of the four of us in front of the lake.

It was during the pandemic that I really started questioning whether I was happy with my career. I’m proud of the success I achieved in journalism after graduating UCD but the world, and the profession, has changed. 

Then earlier this year, a redundancy process. 

The last few months have seen some of the toughest decisions of my life, a lot of a risk and worry – but I already know I won’t regret coming back to university. I’ve learnt more here in the past five weeks than I did in the previous five years across a range of new subjects. How, for example, could I ever have known that I’d find financial reporting incredibly interesting? On top of that I’ve met fantastic new people with a diverse range of backgrounds and outlooks from around the world. 

A group of about 25 young people, many in grey MBA hoodies, all smiling in front of a large tree. The students in the front row hold a banner that reads UCD Smurfit School MBA.
MBA Class of 2024

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to California, something I’ve always dreamed of doing, to take a course and network in Berkeley during GNAM (Global Network for Advanced Management)  week. This is not humble bragging – in fact I invite you to be jealous. You’ll be able to read a post about that adventure soon.

To be serious though, I am honestly and sincerely so very grateful for having been awarded the Aspire scholarship that allows me to start this new journey in my life. I’m not yet sure what the future holds for my career, but for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about it. 

Take the plunge. 

Luke Byrne, Full Time MBA Class of 2024