Jackie O'Mahony

image of jackie o mahony

Jackie O'Mahony

Computer Security & Digital Forensics at ATU Donegal

If you’ve an idea and want to try it, you’ll be supported. That’s typical of the ethos at ATU Donegal. Learning is in the DNA of the place

Communication was an unexpected skill which Computer Security and Digital Forensics graduate Jackie O’Mahony is grateful she learned at ATU Donegal. “Within 6 months of graduating I was in court as a technical witness. I hit the ground running, ” she laughs.

Jackie O’Mahony, is a Cyber Forensics Consultant at VM Forensics. As a sort of ‘digital detective’, Jackie’s job involves filling in the blanks using digital and forensic methods across all types of digital devices. “One day I could be involved in civil disputes such as, data breaches and the next, in criminal investigations examining CCTV. It’s really varied.”

Jackie always had an interest in computers. “I like solving problems and have an analytical mind.” She realised whilst studying Engineering in UL that it wasn’t the right path for her. “I decided to take 2 years out to weigh up my options.”

She scrutinised the Security and Forensics courses on offer, specifically looking at what the modules covered. Something she recommends that all students should do. Studying closer to her Limerick home would’ve made life much easier for Jackie, but she chose ATU Donegal. “The course at ATU Donegal stood out as the one with the best reputation.”

And she wasn’t disappointed. It wasn’t just the content of the degree that impressed her but the lecturers’ industry background and their knowledge. “I loved the course, it lived up to my expectations. The way it was structured and how well it reflected the real world. Plus she says, “the dedication of the teaching staff was amazing. There’s a genuine open- door policy at ATU Donegal, you could always ask for advice.”

Because the course covers security and forensics it effectively doubles the number of career opportunities available. “There’s a shortage of people qualified in this area. You’ll be in demand.” Jackie hadn’t even finished her final year when she interviewed for her current job.

Life at college isn’t all about studying though, joining clubs and societies is a great way to make friends and broaden your college experience.  Jackie was involved in the group that founded ATU Donegal’s first ever Camogie club and was a peer mentor for first years, as well as a member of the Ethical Hacking Club. “If you’ve an idea and want to try it, you’ll be supported. That’s typical of the ethos at ATU Donegal. Learning is in the DNA of the place,” she adds.

Jackie knows from first hand experience that bigger isn’t necessarily better. “Don’t be put off by a smaller college, it can be a huge strength, with more interactive teaching and accessible modern facilities.”

“I spent four fantastic years at ATU Donegal and made friends for life.” Jackie is currently studying a Masters by Research in Cloud Forensics at ATU Donegal and is hoping to set up a new department at VM Forensics. “ATU Donegal prepared me well for working life.”