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 Nicola O'Higgins from Bord Iascaigh Mhara to give some advice for people considering this job:

Nicola O'Higgins

Fishmonger

Bord Iascaigh Mhara

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Nicola O'Higgins
You need to work with people in the industry as knowledge is everything  - where to buy, who from, when etc. Health and safety courses and a pleasant manner and drive are also important.
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Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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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