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

Private (Line)

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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Kevin Roche - Research Engineer

What do you do?

I work in the research and development lab looking for new coatings we could create. Because we have a unique process for applying coatings, this involves testing different materials to find out whether they will work with the process. Sometimes customers ask for a specific coating, and sometimes I test coatings that I think would be useful. When a new coating is successful, I put together publications to inform potential customers.

Describe a typical day?

Daily activities are not very routine. Different coatings require completely different tests so there is a lot of variety. Since I work at every stage of research and development there is even more variety. Some common jobs are preparing powders and equipment for coating, blasting new coatings, photography, microscopy and other analysis techniques, reading research papers and designing publications.

What are the things you like best about the job?

I never get bored because there is always a new challenge and we are constantly doing things that haven’t been done before. There is always something to think about.

What are the main challenges?

It can take a lot of attempts before something actually works.

Who or what has most influenced your career direction?

Probably my parents, my dad is also an engineer.

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

My job is relatively flexible because it is about achieving certain goals rather than being at a desk or in an office at certain times. This is great for allowing a good lifestyle outside of work. In a small research company there is no telling what opportunities might arise in future.

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

Art, Chemistry, Physics, and French. Every one of these has been useful, but especially chemistry. Honours maths was also important. What is your education to date? I did my Leaving Cert in 2006, then completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering degree at UCD in 2010 and have just finished my PhD in Materials Engineering at UCD.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

Of course the PhD was especially important as it was 3 years of pure research, which set me up perfectly for my job now. I chose a lot of materials-based modules during my degree, which helped move me in this direction.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

Be self-motivated, curious, and creative. Do be afraid to try things even if they sound ridiculous.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Any kind of lab experience would be ideal but any work with machines would also be very good.

Article by: Smart Futures