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Up-and-coming entrepreneur

Meet Tayalah McCullough, a dual degree Finance and Computer Science student studying at Queensland University of Technology. We sat down with Taylah to discuss her aspirations, accomplishments, and experiences at the Queensland University of Technology.

Flexible support for students

Taylah was interested in attending a university that supported her long-term professional goals. “It was extremely important for me to choose a university focused on entrepreneurship.” Taylah mentioned that her university “reflects what it is like in the real world, and it forces students to think more critically about things happening in the industry rather than just think about written journals or textbooks that were written years ago.” In addition to this entrepreneurial, industry focus, Taylah wanted to attend a university that could support students pursuing this entrepreneurial route. “I wanted to attend an institution that could support its students while being flexible.” Taylah found that her university offered a versatile curriculum and a flexible learning approach with online lectures. The Queensland University of Technology provides remote and in-person seminars, allowing students like Taylah to pursue her passion projects while working on her start-up.

Future venture capitalist

Another important aspect that helped cement Taylah’s decision to study at the Queensland University of Technology was the types of degrees they offer. “The fact that my university offered a dual degree was fundamental because I want to graduate into venture capitalism. So, I also need something to distinguish myself from other finance graduates. Having knowledge of finance, which helps us every day, and having a deep-seated understanding of technology” will help Taylah distinguish herself as a future VC. With the emergence of FinTech and other incredible facets of STEM that combine finance, Taylah has the edge over the competition regarding career opportunities and graduate prospects.

Describing duality

Taylah describes her course as a fantastic experience that allows students to think critically and creatively about their degrees. “The business side and the computer science side are separate from each other. So you have to draw the learning together yourself.” This course allows students like Taylah to experience both disciplines that demand creative thinking while forcing their students to think about the relationship between finance and computer science. Taylah expressed that the assessments conducted within her course are heavily assignment-based, with some exams. “Our assignments are contextualized into the Brisbane area, so if you’re looking to innovate in the Brisbane area, then it’s an excellent course to enroll in.” Taylah also mentioned that her course is great for those with little computer science knowledge. “It’s a perfect course for students starting from ground zero in computer science. I understand that people might feel anxious about entering a degree without any prior coding experience, but with this degree, you don’t need any background knowledge.” Through this course, Taylah has gained an excellent understanding of computer systems, including hardware, software, backend coding, and front-end development, from having little knowledge of the subject prior.

Command complexity

One of the things that Taylah learned while at university was an array of programming languages. “I wouldn’t consider myself a conventionally techy person, but for employability, I wanted to learn programming languages and ended up enjoying it,” Taylah mentioned, noting that tech is everywhere. You can’t avoid it, so learning new languages such as CSS and HTML may impact your employability in the future. “There are so many great use cases for CSS and HTML,” Taylah expressed. “There’s also Python, which everyone will start using as it’s an amazing natural language. However, at the Queensland University of Technology, we learn pretty much every programming language.” This is only one of the plethora of skills Taylah has gained while studying at Queensland University of Technology. “I enjoy proving why I entered this subject, as I knew almost nothing about coding languages. Coming into this course and leaving with fully developed skills is extremely rewarding.”

An illuminating learning approach

While at the Queensland University of Technology, Taylah had the opportunity to study abroad in Bristol, United Kingdom. Taylah adjusted well to her time abroad, stating that there are significant connections between the two exchange programs (between the UK and Australia.) Furthermore, the UK has opened Taylah’s eyes to the different learning approaches: "The UK has a different approach to learning as Australia has a hybrid approach. In Australia, we complete many classes online, but not many people attend lectures. Instead, they’ll watch it in their own time.” As many students in Australia have industry jobs, they can’t necessarily attend lectures during business hours. Hence, many people watch online classes instead of going in person. Particularly with a computer science degree, students at the Queensland University of Technology offer weekly video tutorials in the place of lectures. “It’s something to remember if you want that more in-person lecture style. QuT’s hybrid style is great as I’m super busy juggling my start-up, work, and university.” Taylah commends Queensland Technology University for its structure, which accommodates all situations and allows students to work at their own pace.

Start-up success

Taylah told Cybernews Academy about her low-key stealth start-up ‘Hey Carta,’ which uses artificial intelligence to provide people with hyper-personalization using multiple APIs. There are various roles, such as front end, back end, and business development, fulfilled by Taylah, her co-founder, and other contributors. “QuT pushes students to enter the entrepreneurial space, and I think the student culture surrounding it is also quite positive in entrepreneurship.” While at the Queensland University of Technology, Taylah and her co-founders received acceptance into a three-week accelerated program called ‘MIT Fuse’ as a part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “My university has a partnership with MIT, and due to this partnership, we were able to enter into the application process. The university nominated us, and will be headed to Boston for three weeks in January.”

In the future, Taylah will be heading over to Boston to participate in the three-week accelerated program. Taylah explained that she wants to experience other tech areas like Europe and the U.S. However, with the budding tech scene in Australia, she is looking to release a pilot version of'Hey Carta' in Brisbane. To end our conversation, Taylah left us with some wonderful words of encouragement for future students. “University may seem incredibly daunting, especially if you don't have experience. However, if you go into university and give it your best, you may surprise yourself by how much you know and can learn. You may also be surprised by how much support you'll get when you're going through your program, and just having any form of technology in this world will set you up for success and employability.”