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 Mary Ita Heffernan from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:

Mary Ita Heffernan

Social Worker

Health Service Executive

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Mary Ita Heffernan

Whilst in secondary school, I changed my mind many a time regarding the career path I wanted to pursue! I always knew that I wanted to work with people but was unsure about the profession which would most suit my interests and skills in this regard.

While in school, I definitely found that being unsure about the type or area of work you want to pursue is a very difficult and confusing position to be in, especially given the array of career choices now available and the pressure one feels in trying to make one’s mind up.

To this end, I would strongly advise anybody in this position to research courses and job descriptions well in order to make the most informed decision possible at that time in your life. 

I recommend one tries to gain as much work experience as possible as it will provide you with valuable insight into your skills, ability, likes/dislikes for certain areas of employment!!!!

Also I would research the courses and job areas as much as possible so that you can make an informed decision regarding your choices. If you can't gain enough information in school, contact the college directly or arrange to talk to somebody who facilitates the course. In particular, it would be really valuable to talk to somebody in the profession to gain a realistic and practical insight into the job.

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Investigative
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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Julie Doyle - Researcher in Health and Wellness Technologies

Dr Julie Doyle, a research fellow at CASALA, is coming up with ways of making life better for older people.

What is CASALA and what is your role?

CASALA is an applied research centre based in Dundalk IT. We look at enhanced aging using technology. Our aim is to keep older people at home for as long as possible. My research looks at how best to design health and wellness technologies for older people. It includes making sure they are easy to use and designed in a way to promote positive healthy behaviours. I also write scientific papers and funding proposals, and give a lot of talks and presentations. Since it is applied research, we work quite closely with industry.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

My main task is to come up with ideas for innovative technologies and new designs. Applying for funding would be the next big thing. I also supervise students.

What do you like most about your job?

The interaction with people! I work closely with older people to figure out what they need. It’s good when you see your designs and ideas coming to life.

What are the main challenges?

There’s always so much to do! Managing time is probably the biggest challenge. As a researcher, one negative aspect is that it’s not a permanent job.

What subjects did you take in school and did they influence your career path?

In school I did history, biology and chemistry. In college I did a degree in computer science but I didn’t really enjoy the programing side. While doing my degree in UCD, I took a couple of psychology modules. That’s where my interest in the more human-centric aspect [of computer science] came from.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started out?

That it’s okay to change to your mind. Also, talk to people in areas that you’re interested in.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

I try to ensure I have a good work-life balance. Some weeks it’s a bit crazy, but others are more flexible and less busy. What inspired your love of science and technology? I did a project when I was in transition year in school where a company helped me to design my school website. I liked the design part of it. That’s what began my interest [in computers].

Article by: Smart Futures