26 Sept 2022

A chance for Donegal women to ReBOOT their tech careers

An opportunity to acquire free skills training and land a valuable work-placement

A chance for Donegal women to ReBOOT their tech careers

Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet Programme Director Kathryn Culllen

DONEGAL-based women are being urged to ‘reboot’ their tech careers with an opportunity to acquire free skills training and land a valuable work-placement with Letterkenny-based health solutions company Optum.

Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet has put out the call for women in the region who may have taken a career break to sign up for the intensive free ‘Women ReBOOT’ programme that will retrain, upskill and return them to the world of paid work. Applicants must have some experience in coding or have an IT qualification.

Women ReBOOT has successfully retrained scores of women across Ireland in their journey to return to work. Programme provider Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet want to attract women  who may have been out of work for various reasons to consider the programme which is open for registration until April 4 – with a commencement date of May 16.

Digital Skillnet Programme Director Kathryn Cullen says: “There has never been more demand and more support for women to re-enter the tech sector.

Kathryn adds: “We are urging women to bring their skills back into IT. If you are a women who has  previous coding experience and are ready to return to the workplace, Women ReBOOT can give you the required technical and professional work skills.

“But we are also open to hearing from women who like the idea of a role in tech. They may also already have suitable work skills that are in demand in the tech environment and the Women ReBOOT programme may suit them.”

Kathryn says Women ReBOOT has also helped many women to regain their confidence, and the programme also has a focus on carer coaching and the many new ways of working.

Data scientist Suad Aldara completed Women ReBOOT last year. She says: “The most important thing is that it brought my confidence back. 

“It was very good to be connected to other women who were in the same boat as me, struggling with coming back from a break. My career is very promising now. I feel back on track and that I didn’t have to start from scratch.”

Programme Director Kathryn Cullen says participants in Women ReBOOT will get:

*  4 weeks free Women Reboot training

*  12 weeks work placement 

*  20 internship positions with health services innovation company Optum

“This, combined with the excellent training and work experience offered by Optum should lead to really strong outcomes for the programme participants. We want applicants to send in their CVs by April 4 and note that the programme begins on May 16,” says Kathryn.

Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet Network Director Maire Hunt said: "Optum are joining over 40 ReBOOT companies that are taking real action towards diversity and inclusion. Over last few years Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet companies have employed 300 women returners to tech, to enhance gender and cultural diversity and drive digital innovation. Women Returners to tech are now a much sought-after talent pool, bringing a mix of interdisciplinary skills, high motivation and multi-generational ability to the Irish tech sector."

Optum has significant operations in Ireland. 

The fastest growing part of UnitedHealth Group, it is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business. Its teams are dedicated to modernising the healthcare system and improving the lives of people and communities. 

With a technology career at Optum, employees have the power to transform the healthcare industry and improve peoples' lives across the world.

Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet runs a number of other leading digital training programmes.

Transform is an award-winning business digital transformation programme that aims to support organisations to strategically implement digital transformation through innovation. 

Product Management is an applied programme for new and experienced product managers and owners to enhance their competencies and career progression, learning for product leaders from around the globe.

Applications are open for all programmes here:

Registration of interest in the programme is open until April 4. Candidates can apply today to find out more here: WomenReBOOT2022_ Optum


A relatively short career break to finish her master’s and spend time with her young child became a major stumbling block when Suad Aldarra sought to resume her career in technology.

Suad achieved first class honours for her Master’s in Data Analytics at NUIG and her thesis project, which focused on applying textual analytics and machine learning techniques for hate speech detection in news articles, won several awards. However, she found that prospective employers consistently questioned her decision to take a one-year career break to the point that she was unsuccessful in interview after interview for a further two years. 

“It kept happening,” Suad says. “I kept getting my maternity break flagged on my cv, directly or indirectly, and it started to become a concern as one year became two years. I started to lose my confidence bit by bit after every interview.”

Suad, who completed a degree in software engineering at Damascus University in 2008, had to leave Syria for Egypt in 2012 when her country became engulfed in civil war. “Then I was lucky enough to get a job offer to come to Ireland and work as a software engineer. I always said engineering saved my life,” she says. 

Initially based in Galway, Suad worked as a data scientist in New York and Ireland for Unicef before taking her career break. Now living in Dublin, she credits Women ReBOOT, which she did in October 2021, with helping her to turn around the negative experience of looking for work.

“It was brilliant. I definitely recommend it. My advice is to do it, enjoy it and make the most out of it,” she says. 

“The most important thing is that it brought my confidence back. It was very good to be connected to other women who were in the same boat as me, struggling with coming back from a break.” 

Suad found the mix of modules on the programme excellent. “I think the most important part was the emotional intelligence assessment because that really helped me understand and unpack all my previous emotional experience at work and understand my strong and weak points and focus on them,” she says. 

Through Women ReBOOT, Suad secured a position as a Data Scientist with Dell Technologies. 

“It’s very good. My role is new in the team that I am in, so it was challenging at first to shape my role but my manager gave me enough flexibility to shape it along with his support and confidence in my diverse set of skills,” she says. 

“My career is very promising now. I feel back on track and that I didn’t have to start from scratch. I don’t look at that gap as a huge waste of time because I managed to turn it into a success. In fact, I wrote a book during that time, and it’s going to be published by Penguin Random House, so I’m really excited.”

Suad’s memoir, I Don’t Want To Talk About Home, will be published in July 2022.

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