Odhran Reidy (ESTEEM ‘19) was open to anything and ready for everything when he came to Notre Dame’s ESTEEM program, and by the time of his graduation, the one-year intensive Master’s had challenged him to try his hand at it all: a year-long Capstone, an extensive business curriculum, and other collaborative, entrepreneurial side projects. With so many opportunities to choose from, Odhran remembers one in particular which stuck out to him from the very beginning: getting a job at the IDEA Center.
For Odhran, an electronic engineer from University College Cork in Ireland, ESTEEM was a fortuitous opportunity which fell into his lap at just the right time. “I felt a little bit lost in an engineering job I didn’t like and ESTEEM appeared and ticked all the boxes and made perfect sense.” When asked about how he decided to work at the IDEA Center, he adds, “[it was] the same thing that happened with [my technical analyst job as happened with ESTEEM].” Thinking back to the earliest days of his ESTEEM experience, Odhran recalls feeling slightly overwhelmed amidst an exciting whirlwind of options and possibilities. Luckily, one panelist and ESTEEM alumna, Kunigunda Szentes, the IDEA Center’s New Venture Development & Invention Program Manager, said something Odhran would go on to remember. “[Kunci] had made good use of her time during ESTEEM,” Odhran remarks. When Odhran asked her what is one thing she would recommend doing out of everything possible, she responded, “get an internship at the IDEA Center.” Excited to dive deep into the early commercialization process and learn about how ideas evolve through people-centric research and validation, Odhran went on to become a technical analyst on Kunci’s team.
Conducting market research within a highly team-oriented environment was precisely what Odhran had been searching for. “It was really enjoyable for me. The whole process and the whole team [was] really fun. You are tasked to take a research paper or disclosure or invention and...boil it down exactly to the problem it’s trying to solve.” Meetings with the team were an opportunity for growth; “it’s a peer review session and you come to the table to read it out, your teammates who don’t know what the invention is can give you direct feedback.”
Odhran can boil down the crux of his work at the IDEA Center to “applying simple frameworks to complicated things.” Odhran works currently as a business operations technical strategy analyst at the Chicago-based telecommunications company, Telnyx, where he is guided by a similar principle. “I’m kind of like a software engineer that is attentive to the business side of things. Things that seem simple and intuitive to start with are actually complicated. The more layers you are able to peel back the more you are able to extract.” Additionally, Odhran emphasizes how much value he now places on workplace communication. “[It’s] huge and being able to effectively communicate your ideas is critical. [When things go wrong] afterwards, being able to summarize what happened effective is so important. That’s where you bring in some of the communication and frameworks you would have used in the IDEA Center to take the wealth of information and data about what happened, understand the audience you present it to, and make it succinct enough that people won’t get lost in the details.”
Odhran offers a last piece of advice about the importance of developing your “people” skills: “ESTEEM and the IDEA Center [teach you] a lot about how to present yourself to someone [and] the power and utility those [networking or interview] conversations can have. [In my IDEA Center analyst job, I was asked] to go out and [conduct interviews], find those targets, and put [myself] in their shoes. When it came time to start thinking seriously about [my own] job search, those skills were important.”