BTE Student Stories

Paul Hegarty

By Paul Hegarty, Cork, Ireland

I was very lucky to be a part of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Bridge to Employment (BTE) programme during my school years in Cork, Ireland. I joined in my 4th Year (15-16 years old) while attending Mayfield Community School. I enjoyed Engineering in school, but I never really gave much thought to my future as I was still young, and felt it was beyond me. The experience I gained during 4th – 6th years in school from the BTE programme was invaluable, with the many corporate site visits and great guidance from my Janssen mentor, Pat. Pat had attended Mayfield Community School also and had graduated from Cork Institute of Technology. He knew the courses well and was able to instill confidence and a belief in me that I was capable of moving on to college. I can still recall Pat in the Janssen canteen encouraging me to “give it a go” as I was very uncertain about my capabilities surrounding maths at the time. I had the perception that college would be a bit like Mount Everest, but Pat was from my locality and was extremely familiar with the Engineering courses, so I trusted his judgement.

Diploma IconI went on to third level (post-secondary education) at Cork Institute of Technology and received bachelor’s degrees in both Mechanical and Process Engineering. My third level experience was made much easier by the BTE programme. The bursary was great assistance, as it helped me concentrate on my studies rather than worry about finances. While in BTE, I had been to Cork Institute of Technology many times during my school years, so I was familiar with the campus, and I had also built relationships with staff there, which made my integration much smoother. The many site visits to Janssen & DePuy Synthes in Cork provided a great insight to reference during my college years, with invaluable first-hand experiences such as reviewing the step-by-step processes of the Foundry in DePuy, which casts and manufacturers orthopedic products. The BTE programme also organised sites visits for “parents only.” This was a master stroke by the programme organisers, as it showed parents firsthand what the programme offered, and while young students at 15 or 16 years old may not have been able to fully grasp the fantastic opportunity the BTE programme, parents certainly could understand what was on offer and it helped nudge students in the right direction.

Since graduating from Cork Institute of Technology, I have had roles as a Mechanical Design Engineer and Process Design Engineer, and I am currently a Project Engineer for SchuF Valve Technology in Cork. The Johnson & Johnson Bridge to Employment programme played a critical role in my progression from education to employment, and I would strongly encourage and recommend anyone with the opportunity to take part in the programme to do so.