Q&A With Caitlin McStay, MSc Scholarship Intern at Inspired

Launched in 2021 in partnership with Ulster University Business School, the Inspired Scholarship scheme offers students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience while pursuing their academic studies. Caitlin McStay, an MSc International Accounting with Data Analytics student was the first recipient of the scholarship and details her experience under the scheme balancing her studies while working with Inspired Corporate Advisory.


Why did you apply for the scholarship / What appealed to you when applying? 

 “I first heard about the scholarship from Dervla Molloy and Cathal McGaughey (Inspired employees) who delivered a talk about the scholarship at Ulster University, Magee. Instantly, I knew it would be a great career opportunity, given Inspired provides services in many of the tax areas we have studied. I really enjoyed the tax element of my course, (MSc International Accounting with Data Analytics) so I decided to go for it! Inspired’s head office is in Cookstown, County Tyrone which is close to where I live which made the opportunity even more attractive.”


How was your experience, balancing working and studying? 

I had a really great experience as Inspired were very understanding of the workload involved with university, and were keen to ensure my work commitments didn’t negatively affect my studying. 

 Whilst I felt I had familiarity with corporate tax from my studies, I realised quickly there were areas that were completely new to me so I had a lot to learn on the job. Whilst it is challenging at times, I do find that the best way to develop is by applying what you’ve learned into practice and learning from any mistakes. There was constant support throughout the whole team at Inspired, everyone was more than happy to help!”


What are the benefits of the scholarship? 

The biggest benefit of the scholarship for me was the relevant work experience I gained through this opportunity. Having missed my placement year at university, I often worried that I might be at a disadvantage to others. However, not only am I now working in a career avenue that I am eager to progress in, I am also delighted to be furthering my career with Inspired who has offered me a permanent position having completed the scholarship. It has been a brilliant place to work and I have made new friends, including a few graduates who like myself are at the start of their career journey.


What have you gained personally and professionally from the scholarship? 

“From this scholarship opportunity, I gained insight into the real-world application of taxation and accounting. I was able to put all my studies and previous work into practice while also learning on the job and expanding my knowledge every day. I gained confidence in myself with the move from university to professional working life which I know can be extremely daunting. I’m also developing the type of soft skills you can only really build in the workplace. I take part in team meetings, becoming better and more efficient in day-to-day administrative activities, and have been involved in client meetings which has been a great experience. 


Would you recommend a Scholarship to students considering applying next year? 

I would definitely recommend the scholarship to everyone. It is such a fantastic opportunity to kickstart your career. Inspired make it very clear that your studies take priority over work during your scholarship and I’ve never been put under pressure with strict deadlines. If you want to learn and progress in your career, Inspired Corporate Advisory is the best place for that in my opinion.” 


What does the Inspired Scholarship entail? 

“The Inspired Scholarship programme was launched in 2021, in partnership with Ulster University Business School (UUBS), offering students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on work experience with a fast-growing firm, alongside pursuing their academic studies. Under the scheme, students are given the chance to work directly with and learn from Chartered Accountants, Chartered Tax Advisors, and other professionals who have vast experience working both in the private and public sectors. The scholarship is open to individuals studying the MSc International Accounting with Analytics programme. We hope to open applications for another scholarship opportunity in late Summer 2022. More details will be shared on our website in due course.”

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