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 Brenda O Loughlin from McDonald's to give some advice for people considering this job:

Brenda O Loughlin

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McDonald's

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Brenda O Loughlin
I guess I would tell anyone considering this job that they need to be able to multi task, have good people and communication skills and be prepared to work hard.
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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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Jane Stout - Ecologist

Jane Stout, a Senior Lecturer in Natural Science in Trinity College Dublin talks about her career.

What are the roles and responsibilities of your job?

Teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students, supervising postgraduate research. I also seek funding for and then manage research projects, as well as collaborating with other scientists to do research, writing research articles for scientific journals and reviewing articles others have written. I take part in committees at departmental and college level, as well as in national environmental committees and organisations. I interact with the public and media on my research topic, and organise and take part in research meetings/conferences.

What do you like most about your work?

As an ecologist, I’ve carried out research and been to conferences in some very cool places (South America, Tasmania, Scandinavia, Mediterranean, Canary Islands etc.) and I meet wonderful people who do similar jobs and so have friends all around the world. Although I have a lot to do, my time is quite flexible – I have quite a lot of independence in terms of what I do when (as long as I get it all done in the end!).

What are the main challenges?

Because my work is flexible, I can do it at any time, and because there’s a lot to do (and there are lots of opportunities for taking more work on), I end up working at every available hour!

Who or what has most influenced your career direction?

Mainly my own interests and the opportunities that arose. Voluntary work is a really good idea for getting some experience in the area you’re interested in.

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

I would like more time with my family and less rushing around, but I think that’s true of any working mum.

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

I did A’ levels in Biology, Geography and Maths – these definitely influenced my career path as I was interested in living things, the environment and how people interact with it and working with numbers (this pretty much sums up my research area of ecology).

What is your education to date?

GCSEs and A’ levels at secondary school, and then a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Sciences at Southampton University and a PhD in Biology at Southampton University.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

You need to work hard and get good qualifications. You need self-motivation and have to be very well organised. You should take any opportunities that arise, and enjoy working with others and travelling. You need to be able to work flexible hours, be very computer-literate, and, for my field, have a real love of the natural world!

Article by: Smart Futures