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 Louise Mc Donald from Defence Forces to give some advice for people considering this job:

Louise Mc Donald

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Defence Forces

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Louise Mc Donald
I would advise them to get themselves physically fit and to maintain it. I would also say that a sense of humour is very important and the ability to laugh at themselves. They should have self discipline and be prepared to accept imposed discipline. Punctuality is very important as is respect for others. If they had sporting interests that would be a help.
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Naturalist?
Naturalist
Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalists interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results, and prefer action to talking and discussing.
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Dave Linehan - Graduate Engineer

When Dave Linehan was still in school, he saw a big future for renewable energy. Now a graduate engineer at EirGrid, he talks about his job and how he got there.

What skills does a graduate engineer need?

All engineering careers involve lots of problem solving. Team work and communications skills are important, but problem solving is a big part of it.

What do you do for EirGrid and what’s a typical day?

I started working with EirGrid last September as part of their graduate programme. I will do 12 months in one area, 12 months in another and then be assigned. Currently I work in the section where planning of the grid takes place. A typical day includes lots of desktop studies of the electricity system using various software systems. I’m working on an assessment of substations across the country now. Most of my work is office-based, but I do go out to site from time to time.

You did energy engineering in University College Cork (UCC)?

That was a pretty new course in UCC when I started in 2009. I wasn’t really sure what engineering I wanted to do but I chose that. There was a lot of media focus on renewable energy and I could see a big future for it, so that swayed me. The course was quite broad. We did modules in civil engineering, chemical engineering and electrical engineering.

What advice would you give someone considering a career in engineering?

I found the work placement I did to be of great benefit. I worked with Mainstream Renewable Power, a wind and solar developer, on an offshore wind farm project. So I would lean towards an engineering course that has work placement. Most do.

What’s the best part of your job?

I enjoy the variety of the work. I do desktop studies, but also get out on site sometimes. As part of the graduate programme here, I am doing further studies with Engineers Ireland for CPD (continuing professional development) certification.

What did you do for the Leaving Cert that helped career-wise?

I did maths, applied maths and physics; they helped big time with engineering. I also did design and communication graphics, the new version of technical drawing, and that was beneficial, particularly for civil engineering modules in college.

What do you do in your free time?

I’m big into health and fitness so I go to the gym and play a bit of sport. I’m a member of Engineers Ireland, so I go to the networking events. I do some volunteer work, such as with the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Article by: Smart Futures