Looking back: CAO

By Cassandra Murphy

As I prepare for my final year in UL (for my undergraduate at least) I can’t help but look back and think where I was three years ago. Sitting at home waiting for CAO offers to come around. Still shaking from results day I was hoping that this would be the day that would change the sombre mood I had been carrying for the past five days. Maybe there was some miracle and psychology dropped dramatically?

5:50am Monday morning and no alarm set but my internal body clock woke me up. I grabbed my laptop and patiently awaited the 6am bells to ring from the clock in the kitchen. All my details entered just to press the button and see what lay ahead of me.

“LM036- BA Joint Honours – University of Limerick”

I didn’t give myself a chance to think. I pressed accept and with that I was a UL student. I just  remember tears of joy. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but something felt right. It felt like the right decision had been made. Besides the tears of joy from me, there were also tears of joy from my mother who was happy we didn’t have to go through the rollercoaster of the leaving cert another time.

For me, it was a tough year. I have anxiety. Anxiety does not mix well with the dreaded Leaving Certificate. A mixture of support from family, friends, psychologists and my amazing teachers got me through it. Be it by changing the oral examinations timetable so I could go first or helping fight my case for a special centre or even just sitting me down and talking to me, my teachers offered me all their support. My friends and family have been there from day one and still continue to support me as do the many new friends I have developed over the three years in UL. My support system is the backbone to my success in college.

Three years on and I would never believe I was the same person. I was very reluctant about the joint honours course in my first year. Nobody ever tells you the benefits of a course. Only the horror stories they have heard. I took a chance on offers day and now I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sometimes the course you do not think you want could be the course that you need. I’ve grown as a person throughout college. I’ve developed into myself and who I want to be (as stereotypical as it sounds!) I’ve been given so many great opportunities and I’ve worked my backside off for the others. The tunnel doesn’t always have to stay dark. Sometimes the turn you didn’t expect to be there is where the light shines through the brightest. It may take an extra bit of work but the feeling of satisfaction is something else.

cassandra

About Cassandra Murphy:

I come from a little island off the South West coast of Ireland but moved to the big city of Paris for 6 months of coop. Normally I study psychology and criminal justice but at the moment I’m in France for Erasmus trying to string together a few sentences of French to avoid dying of starvation. It’s safe to say I like a challenge. 

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My jolie co-op

By Cassandra Murphy

At age 12 I stepped foot in Paris and knew I would return. I was sure that the next time would be for more than 72 hours. Fast forward 8 years and I’m sitting in my Parisian office in front of my Mac emailing well established bloggers. Typical start to a Hollywood comedy right? Luckily for me it as a reality. This was my coop experience.

The process

When it came to organising coop I was a bit all over the place. My first choice was to organise my own. I always knew it would be hassle to try to get a placement I either the psychology or law sector. After one failed attempt early in the planning stages I decided it was not worth the hassle as my heart wasn’t 100% in it. Option two was Grupos. I had studied Spanish in first year, it might be fun to live in Barcelona, but the placement really wasn’t for me. I am quite independent. The idea of working in a very large group of people who I already know did not appeal to me. So I moved onto option three: Argentina. This plan lasted all of five minutes before I decided I wanted to stay in Europe as I am very close to my family and going abroad for six months was going to hurt both parties a lot. Finally I made my decision. FRANCE. Why not? I studied French for the Leaving Cert. Surely I could dig deep enough to find a few ‘mots’ to get me by. I submitted my CV and hoped for the best. Considering I didn’t study French at UL there was always a possibility of them saying no. Luckily for me I sweet talked my way around the coop office and managed to secure myself in France. More importantly, in Paris.

The Job

Every day I think about how grateful I am to the coop office. I don’t think my placement could have been any better for me. I was working in a small start-up company called My Jolie Candle. The company made candles with jewellery hidden inside. While the company was based in France they shipped their produce to the UK. This meant my job was in English. I was their community manager. This included customer service and marketing. I managed the social media accounts, the website and contacted multiple bloggers throughout the semester to feature the product. Every day I was surrounded by sweet smells, trying on new jewellery and packing boxes with crepe paper and glitter. It was never a bad thing to get caught on YouTube or Facebook. What more could I have wished for? The workforce was also a dream come true. My boss was the eldest on the team at 28. There was a total of six of us in the office, including three interns. Three companies worked out of the one office spaces, all co-founded by the same people.

It became clear to me that not much research was done into the UK market before I arrived. My boss realised also. This led to him setting me many research tasks. I learnt so much about European economic, social media strategies, marketing, social media and the business world in general. With the hit of Bexit and the lack of funds to invest fully into the UK market my boss decided it was a waste of both of our time to make me focus all my days on the English side of the company. He decided it was up to me to figure out how amazon and eBay worked for businesses and to set the French company up on both. So if anybody has any questions on either, I am your woman!

After the six month I was sent on my way with a suitcase full of Swarovski jewellery and candles and a brain full of knowledge and experience. I got to see the ins and outs of a small enterprise. I saw what happens when it fails, and what happens when it succeeds beyond anybody’s expectations. I got to experience the heartbreak and excitement of the ups and downs. And I got to experience it all in a family like setting.

The City

Paris. What can I say? I struggle to think of a boring day. I chose to emerge myself in the culture. From ballets to football games. I did it all. Every Thursday after work was museum day. Every chance I got I sat at Trocadero and watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle or sat in front of Sacré Coeur and stared out onto the city. I met my friend for some wine and a baguette along the Seine or met her by her apartment near the Louvre. I know the metro like the back of my hand. I sang with the Irish for the Sweden match in Stade de France and fell to the ground on Champs de Mars for the Italy game. Being an Irish person in France during Euro 16 meant something special. I got to experience that. I got to enjoy art and explore architecture. I got to try different cuisines and improve on a language. I was even mistaken as a Parisian on multiple occasions. (Until I tried to speak French. My accent gave it away.) Paris gave me all I could expect and more.

None of this would have been possible if the coop department had not believed in me and my ability. They believed in my ability to not only take on a job that I was not trained for, they believed in my ability to do it in a foreign country where I could just about form a sentence. My coop experience gave me a chance to grow and improve and most importantly, discover where I want my future to take me.

cassandra

About Cassandra Murphy:

I come from a little island off the South West coast of Ireland but moved to the big city of Paris for 6 months of coop. Normally I study psychology and criminal justice but at the moment I’m in France for Erasmus trying to string together a few sentences of French to avoid dying of starvation. It’s safe to say I like a challenge. 

Choosing Arts subjects

By Cassandra Murphy

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An arts degree can be a scary thing. Your options are endless and every class looks as tempting as the next.  You go in knowing exactly what you want from your degree and come out after the four years with a completely different outlook. For me, all of the above is true after just two years. I went into the joint honours programme at UL with a plan almost set in stone, but everything changed. That is the beauty of the degree.

I started in September 2014 with the notion of becoming a psychologist. All that was left was to choose what I wanted to do with it. I knew I wanted to do a language. I always loved the thought of being able to communicate t was now a case of deciding on which one. I had a love-hate relationship with French throughout secondary school.  I loved the language, but the teaching and examination methods were not for me. I knew I was behind the others and I was not prepared for the anticipated humiliation in the class. So next was Irish. I walked into the lecture hall with my roommate and we took our seats. After five minutes of non-stop Gaeilge I decided it was best for me to give it a miss and ran from the class as fast I could. I didn’t even consider German. It was a language I could never find time for. Japanese didn’t appeal to me in any way. Which left me with Spanish. So I ran with it.

Both Sociology and English made sense for me. Sociology complimented Psychology. Each helps you understand the other. English on the other hand complimented me. It was always one of my best subjects so it only made sense to keep it on. It meant it would lighten my workload throughout the year. The continuous assessment and lack of an end of term exam was also a huge bonus.

I had one class left to take. I considered the many options. Mathematics, public admin, media, Irish music and dance. All things that appealed to me. In the end it was Criminal Justice that won me over. I was hooked. I had a slight bit of knowledge about everything else. I came to UL to learn so that’s what I was going to do. I knew nothing in terms of the Irish Legal system. It was going to be interesting. I planned on making it one of my minor subjects and only doing it for a year. I was aware it was a time consuming subject.

Plans change though. Now in my third year of my degree I can happily say I am working towards a degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Where I want to go afterwards? Who knows! I like challenges and changing my opinion. That’s why I decided to spend a year of my degree in France. Give myself a chance to learn something different and fix my relationship with the French language. Arts degrees do not tie you down. Instead they help you find your wings.

cassandra

About Cassandra Murphy:

I come from a little island off the South West coast of Ireland but moved to the big city of Paris for 6 months of coop. Normally I study psychology and criminal justice but at the moment I’m in France for Erasmus trying to string together a few sentences of French to avoid dying of starvation. It’s safe to say I like a challenge.