Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Elaine McGarrigle from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Elaine McGarrigle

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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  Elaine McGarrigle

The most important skill that a person in my position can have is communication.

One needs to be able to communicate effectively with people of all levels in order to do a days work. I think that this is the most important quality, to be able to fit in well with people, everyone from the operators to the senior management, one needs to be able to read them and how best to communicate with them.

An interest in basic engineering and in the heavy machine industry.

It is important to realise that working as a mechanical engineer in Irish Cement does not generally involve sitting at your desk all day. It involves alot of hands on, on-site work so a person needs to be prepared to get their hands dirty.

Another quality that is important is to be willing to learn. Even after a number of years in college, one needs to be eager to learn the ins and outs of a new environment; how cement is made, what equipment is involved, what generally goes wrong and how it is fixed.

Everyone will help and teach you but you need to open your mind and be prepared to take it all in.

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Shauna Harris - Software Engineer

Her guidance counsellor pegged her for accountancy, but Shauna Harris chose a degree in computer applications at Dublin City University (DCU) and never looked back.

She says IT is not as maths-focused as some people think and involves a lot more than sitting in front of a computer. Shauna is part of a large development team at IBM and the teamwork – bouncing ideas off one another – is something that really appeals to her.

How did you first get interested in computers?

I first became interested in computers when my parents bought my brother and me a computer. In primary school, I mainly used the computer for games. I didn’t start programming until my first year in college.

Why did you decide to do a computer course?

I didn’t get a chance to explore computers in secondary school, but my parents knew I was interested in computers. I was inquisitive and curious, so they said why not consider a career in IT. I decided to apply for computer applications, specialising in software engineering, at DCU. During my first year in college, I realised that the IT profession, and specifically software development, was quite unique as it gave you the capabilities to create something out of nothing.

What do you do at IBM?

I’m a software engineer. I’m involved in the full development cycle of new IBM products. This includes design, implementation, testing and documentation. We work with customers too if problems occur.

What I enjoy most about my job is that each day you face new challenges. No day is the same.

What’s most challenging about your job?

The difficult parts are the technical challenges. We might get a high-severity problem or a complex feature that we need to introduce. We have to drop everything and work together to solve the complex problem under time pressure. This kind of problem would be urgent, a showstopper for customers and one that we need a fix for.

What did you most like about the DCU course?

I really enjoyed the job opportunities. In second year I was selected to complete a scholarship programme over the summer where I got to see IT research. I also did a six-month internship with Intel. That gave me exposure to working in a large IT company and I realised that it suited me. DCU also gave me a skillset that I didn’t recognise at first. It’s a skill that allows you pick up new programming languages; it is nearly like a thought process and learning to see similarities between languages.

Article by: Smart Futures