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How to build a network at the beginning of your career

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Networking is incredibly important in today’s working world, even at the early stages of your career. Here are some tips to help you get started.

You’ve probably heard by now that networking is a crucial part of working life. But when you’re at the start of your career, it can be hard to strike up conversations or even identify the people you should be having them with.

To help you start building a solid network at the early stages of your professional life, here are some tips as told by people in the Silicon Republic community.

Remember that networking should be mutually beneficial

While networking can be a challenge for every type of person, Iana Boghiu, IT business analyst VP at Citi, said it can be particularly daunting for introverts. In her own career, she has found that being true to herself and slowly moving beyond her comfort zone have helped.

“Some companies have formal networking; I joined Citi’s Women in Tech and wider Women’s Network groups to get to know people in Dublin as my team is global,” she said. “It’s up to you to find what’s right for you, be it attending physical events or writing articles and blogs on a topic that interests you.

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“Then build on that by slowly getting yourself outside your comfort zone to expand your skills and network, because it comes down to allowing people in your wider circle to know you and your skills.

“Look at themes that you are interested in because you want to be true to yourself. Long-lasting relationships will work only when there are genuine and mutual interests and trust. In the end, it’s about having people around you that will celebrate your success, push you during hard times or direct you when you are lost or looking for new areas.”

Niamh McInerney, head of graduate recruitment at PwC Ireland, echoed Boghiu’s point about the importance of networking being mutually beneficial.

“At its core, effective networking at any stage is based on the exchange of mutually beneficial information,” McInerney said. “Whether online or face to face, I would say the tips for effective networking are the same.

“For me, these include identifying who you want to connect with, being clear on what you are looking for, doing your research, deciding specifically what you would like them to know and listening. Don’t be afraid to give something back and do the follow-up afterwards. Connect with them on social media.”

Get involved with diverse groups

Triona Geraghty, deputy HR director at Aon, and Cat McGurren, EMEA recruiter at Patreon, both agreed with Boghiu about getting involved with different groups – both within and beyond a company.

“Invest time and show an interest in connecting with others,” Geraghty advised. “One way of networking outside of your immediate team members is to volunteer to join various business resource groups or social committees.

“A certain amount of networking will naturally occur in the day-to-day of completing tasks and other role responsibilities. One tip to go above and beyond this is to add networking as one of your goals – task yourself to connect with two new colleagues per month, for example. You never know how and when particular relationship will smooth a future path!”

‘Networking is one of the most powerful skills you can have in your career and is a skill that can be learned’
– MARIE RYAN, FIDELITY INVESTMENTS

McGurren believes it’s worthwhile looking into technology clubs and societies at college. She said: “Many of these have a Discord community to chat about graduate roles, and all of them invite companies to come and talk to them. It’s a great way to meet future employers.”

McGurren also recommended engaging with tools and technologies that reflect your interests. “It’s OK to reach out to people and ask when their intern or graduate programme opens for applications. Our vacancies are mainly in product and technology, so it’s important for us to see that candidates have a genuine passion for their industry. We like to see evidence of a GitHub account or personal coding projects.”

Present your work

Gordon Morrow, a senior software engineer at Verizon Media, believes that the easiest and most effective way to network early in your career is to “present initiatives and solutions worked on by your team to the wider audience”.

“This worked for me personally by presenting at a large internal conference in Sunnyvale, California,” he said.

“As a result of this, I interacted with a lot of people in the wider company and made many connections, which proved invaluable when working on new tech stacks or design work as I had a network now to reach out to. Tools like LinkedIn meant that I could connect and share experiences both from my own work and also what the industry trends were.”

Make your networking ‘diagonal’

According to Marie Ryan, senior corporate actions manager and scrum master at Fidelity Investments, getting to know more people will help open doors in your career and expose you to “sounder advice in making the important decisions that shape your life”.

“Networking is one of the most powerful skills you can have in your career and is a skill that can be learned,” she said.

Ryan’s tips included being your authentic self, setting out two or three specific questions to ask your new connection before meeting them, being clear about your goals, making sure to follow up after your initial meeting and being intentional about who you want to connect with and why.

“Networking is not always about looking for upwards leaders; ensure to network diagonally and use other resources such as groups, affiliations and team initiatives to get involved.”

Say yes

Conor Davin, a quality control analyst in MSD Dunboyne’s microbiology lab, says that “putting yourself out there” is an important part of building a network. This is what helped him take on the role of biosafety officer alongside his main job, giving him opportunities to present to more senior colleagues.

“I’ve had the chance to take on new responsibilities, acquire additional training and get more involved in different tasks,” Davin said. “I would strongly recommend taking opportunities when they’re offered.

“While you might feel like you’re too busy or don’t have time, you should take those opportunities when they arise, because otherwise you’ll never get a chance to see what you like or meet new people.

“It all comes down to putting your hand up, saying yes, and getting involved.”

Don’t be put off if you’ve changed career

Networking can be just as daunting if you’ve decided to make a career change later in life. Dun & Bradstreet software engineer Stuart Grimes, for example, completed a diploma in computer science after working as a chartered accounted for almost 20 years.

“Looking back on those first few months, I would recommend that you take the time to establish a network of knowledge for yourself,” he said. “There are many technologies we all use in our day-to-day work. Try and understand the constituent parts of your role, identify the people who have the most knowledge about that topic, and approach them. Ask if it’s OK to reach out to them with questions or, better still, try to schedule a regular time with them where you have a chance to build up a bank of questions.

“This is a great way to build your knowledge and your network, and really helps establish a great working relationship with your new colleagues.”

Make the most of online networking tools

Avanade’s early careers lead for Ireland and the UK, Isabelle Fernandes, reminded us of the importance of tools for networking in the era of remote working.

“LinkedIn is your friend,” she said. “Tell people why you’re interested in them and suggest a virtual coffee; a 15-minute Teams chat translates across continents, professions and generations. So long as you match up the time zone, you are more empowered than ever to learn from others and meet new people and opportunities.

Fernandes also said that LinkedIn’s Recommendations feature can be a great addition to your networking toolkit. “Remember, no one is totally out of reach.”

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How to keep a support contract • The Register

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On Call Let us take a little trip back to the days before the PC, when terminals ruled supreme, to find that the more things change the more they stay the same. Welcome to On Call.

Today’s story comes from “Keith” (not his name) and concerns the rage of a user whose expensive terminal would crash once a day, pretty much at the same time.

The terminal in question was a TAB 132/15. It was an impressive bit of kit for the time and was capable of displaying 132 characters of crisp, green text on a 15-inch CRT housed in a futuristic plastic case. Luxury for sure, unless one was the financial trader trying to use the device.

Once a day, at around 13:30, the terminal would hang. The user would have to reach behind it, power it off, wait a bit, and then fire it back up again. To placate the angry customer, a replacement was dispatched, and all was well. Until the problem started again. Another replacement was made. Another week or so went by with no complaints. And again, another call: the terminal was hanging. Same time. A few times a week.

“These terminals were in the thousand-dollar range,” Keith told us, so a monthly replacement cycle was not really an option. He even used one of the faulty units himself for a while and encountered no issues, which was odd in itself and, we reckon, planted a seed of suspicion.

As for the customer, he was raging by this point. “He was threatening to cancel our contract for his entire firm,” remembered Keith, which would hit the bottom line hard. A salesperson was sent out to see what was happening, but there was no failure.

A technician went out; again no failure. Was this a case of “Technician Syndrome”, where a problem cannot be replicated in front of service personnel? Maybe. Keith’s team were at their wit’s end while the customer had hit the end of his tether and gone beyond.

The solution to the problem was accidental. Keith was back on site, diagnosing an unrelated software issue, but could see the suspect terminal on the other side of the room. As he watched, the trader using the machine sat back for lunch, flipping through the pages of a financial newspaper. A phone call came through, and the trader slung the paper on top of the monitor, took the call, and then resumed work.

Oblivious to the newspaper.

A few minutes later there was uproar. The trader had stood and was slapping the side of the terminal, yelling all manner of not-safe-for-work oaths and casting aspersions upon the good name of Keith’s firm, the software, the programmers, and the computing industry in general. The cursing continued as the trader reached behind for the power switch, knocking the paper aside.

Keith had his solution. But was smart enough to know that a bland presentation of facts would probably not help. Instead, he arranged for his office to call the trader and tell him that a tech was on the way to help. He waited until the trader was distracted and sauntered over.

“Sure enough,” said Keith, “he said he was glad to see me but launched into a tirade again about the device’s many faults.”

He let the customer vent for a while, and surreptitiously placed the newspaper back on top over the heat vents on the terminal while pretending to examine the rear of the unit.

Now patience was needed. It wouldn’t take long – the terminal had, after all, only just recovered from its last overheating episode – and Keith encouraged the trader to unload all his woes and grievances.

The bug list was building as the screen suddenly flickered and locked up. “There! You see that?” exclaimed the user. Keith nodded and reached round the side of the terminal to cycle the power. Sure enough, it came back up.

Keith made a show of thanking the user for showing him the elusive bug and was staging a call with a co-worker, supposedly to prepare a replacement, when the terminal locked up again.

Keith wrinkled his forehead at the “mystery” before offering up an explanation.

“Ah!” he exclaimed, “Did you see how that flicker started from the top and moved to the down?”

Those familiar with the technology will know it was just following the raster pattern. The customer, on the other hand, did not.

“That is often a sign it is overheating,” said Keith, playing fast and loose with the truth, “but this office is cool?”

He pretended to be mystified until the penny dropped for the trader, who unleashed yet more expletives as he realised where he’d dropped his newspaper and snatched it away from the vents.

Feeling the volcanic heat spewing from the depths of the terminal, he turned to Keith, suddenly concerned: “Will it be OK?”

Of course it would. It had only been overheating for a short time every day. The apologies from the customer, who had “discovered” the problem, were profuse and copious. Keith excused himself, but not before rubbing a bit more salt into the wound by telling the user he needed to cancel the burn-in process of yet another expensive replacement.

As it turned out, rather than the customer cancelling the support contact, it ended up being extended.

“It was a good thing I’d let him ‘discover’ the fault,” said Keith. “If I had found it, he would have been very defensive and we still might have lost that contract.”

The minor bugs the user had reported while Keith had been waiting for the overheating to happen again were swiftly dealt with and the enhancement requests logged. Keith also reported back to his boss, who spent rather a lot of time laughing.

“It was a good day.”

Ever set the stage so the customer thinks they’re the hero of the hour? Or maybe you’ve wished all manner of unpleasantness upon your suppliers before realising the blame laid with you all along? Tell us about the time you picked up the phone with an email to On Call. ®

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NUIG to spend €5m on research to help address global issues

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Several key research areas have been identified by NUI Galway to work towards for 2026.

NUI Galway’s recently launched research and innovation strategy includes a €5m investment on support for its multi-disciplinary research teams as they grapple with several global issues.

The strategy, which lays out plans for the university’s next five years of research, focuses on six areas: antimicrobial resistance, decarbonisation, democracy and its future, food security, human-centred data and ocean and coastal health.

“As a public university, we have a special responsibility to direct our research toward the most pressing questions and the most difficult issues,” said to Prof Jim Livesey, VP for research and innovation at NUI Galway.

“As we look into the future, we face uncertainty about the number and nature of challenges we will face, but we know that we will rely on our research capacity as we work together to overcome them,” Livesey added.

The plan focuses on creating the conditions to intensify the quality, scale and scope of research in the university into the future. This includes identifying areas with genuine potential to achieve international recognition for NUI Galway. It also aims to continue to cultivate a supportive and diverse environment within its research community.

NUI Galway has research collaborations with 3,267 international institutions in 114 different countries. The university also has five research institutes on its Galway city campus, including the Data Science Institute, the Whitaker Institute for social change and innovation and the Ryan Institute for marine research.

Its research centres in the medtech area include Science Foundation Ireland’s Cúram and the Corrib Research Centre for Advanced Imaging and Core Lab.

The university will also continue to involve the public with its research and innovation plans through various education and outreach initiatives. It is leading the Public Patient Involvement Ignite network, which it claims, will “bring the public into the heart of research initiatives”.

Another key area identified in the strategy report is the development of partnerships with industry stakeholders. NUI Galway has spun out many successful companies in recent years, including medtechs such as AuriGen Medical, Atrian, Vetex Medical and Neurent.

According to MedTech Europe, Ireland has the highest number of medtech employees per capita in Europe along with Switzerland.

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France hails victory as Facebook agrees to pay newspapers for content | France

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France has hailed a victory in its long-running quest for fairer action from tech companies after Facebook reached an agreement with a group of national and regional newspapers to pay for content shared by its users.

Facebook on Thursday announced a licensing agreement with the APIG alliance of French national and regional newspapers, which includes Le Parisien and Ouest-France as well as smaller titles. It said this meant “people on Facebook will be able to continue uploading and sharing news stories freely amongst their communities, whilst also ensuring that the copyright of our publishing partners is protected”.

France had been battling for two years to protect the publishing rights and revenue of its press and news agencies against what it termed the domination of powerful tech companies that share news content or show news stories in web searches.

In 2019 France became the first EU country to enact a directive on the publishing rights of media companies and news agencies, called “neighbouring rights”, which required large tech platforms to open talks with publishers seeking remuneration for use of news content. But it has taken long negotiations to reach agreements on paying publishers for content.

No detail was given of the exact amount agreed by Facebook and the APIG.

Pierre Louette, the head of the media group Les Echos-Le Parisien, led the alliance of newspapers who negotiated as a group with Facebook. He said the agreement was “the result of an outspoken and fruitful dialogue between publishers and a leading digital platform”. He said the terms agreed would allow Facebook to implement French law “while generating significant funding” for news publishers, notably the smallest ones.

Other newspapers, such as the national daily Le Monde, have negotiated their own deals in recent months. News agencies have also negotiated separately.

After the 2019 French directive to protect publishers’ rights, a copyright spat raged for more than a year in which French media groups sought to find common ground with international tech firms. Google initially refused to comply, saying media groups already benefited by receiving millions of visits to their websites. News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions complained about not receiving a cut of the millions made from ads displayed alongside news stories, particularly on Google.

But this year Google announced it had reached a draft agreement with the APIG to pay publishers for a selection of content shown in its searches.

Facebook said that besides paying for French content, it would also launch a French news service, Facebook News, in January – a follow-up to similar services in the US and UK – to “give people a dedicated space to access content from trusted and reputable news sources”.

Facebook reached deals with most of Australia’s largest media companies earlier this year. Nine Entertainment, which includes the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, said in its annual report that it was expecting “strong growth in the short-term” from its deals with Facebook and Google.

British newspapers including the Guardian signed up last year to a programme in which Facebook pays to license articles that appear on a dedicated news section on the social media site. Separately, in July Guardian Australia struck a deal with Facebook to license news content.

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