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 Tomas Flanagan from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:

Tomas Flanagan

Occupational Therapist

St. Michael's House

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Tomas Flanagan

I would advise anyone interested in Occupational Therapy to read up on the profession or else try to meet a qualified Occupational Therapist and talk to them about their work.

The internet can be a great resource in getting information. Also information from the universities might indicate if this is a course that is suited to you. A lot of the course work relies on you being a self-directed learner. This makes the course different to other more mainstream/academic courses as the onus is on the student to complete a lot of work independently.

As this is a caring profession an interest in working with people is a must. You also need to be a good communicator as you will be working closely with clients, families and other staff on an ongoing basis.

Organisational skills are essential to enable you to manage a caseload.

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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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Career Story: Software Developer

"I think there has never been a better time to start learning how to make software." Jamie Buelta, Software Developer, Demonware. 

Jamie has a Bachelor of Engineering in Telecommunications and has been working at Demonware for the past six years. His favourite subjects at school were Maths and Physics.

My main tasks
I make software, which involves a lot of design, finding and fixing problems, and talking with other people to have a better knowledge of the problem or the current status of our software. Most of my work is in the area of web related technologies.

What I like
When I was a kid I loved to see how my toys worked, disassemble and assemble them back together again. With software you’re doing that all day!

Challenges
It can be stressful and frustrating sometimes. Computers and software can fail for a lot of reasons and finding the cause can drive you crazy. Typically, the main challenge is to produce something of good quality (meaning it doesn’t break often), that does what it should, and discovering what are the real requirements, which can be pretty difficult sometimes when it’s always changing.

Work / life balance
One of the main difficulties in this career is managing your work/life balance. I’ve always been very vigilant about that, as it can lead to burnout. I must say I’m pretty happy with that aspect in my current position, but is something, in my opinion, that a lot of companies (and people) do wrong. The sector is extremely dynamic, which means that job security comes from the point of view of being able to find a new job quickly rather than being in the same company forever. That’s not necessarily for everyone. But, I’d say that’s pretty good.

Who influenced me
I think that I always wanted to work in this kind of career. I got my first computer (a ZX Spectrum) when I was around 8 years old and absolutely loved it. Since I was 15 I was totally convinced that I wanted to work with computers. My parents were totally supportive about it.

I worked as a software developer for a few years, but wanted to do something different, so I did some management work and I even set up a small shop. I eventually went back to software development, and came back with a passion, more convinced than ever that this is really what I want to do.

Most useful aspects of my education
I’d say that having a strong foundation on how computers and networks work has been very relevant for my work. Also, I had to focus on how to understand concepts and not on memorising facts, which is very useful when facing new problems.

The best thing about my job
Getting to work with technology that fascinates me!

Useful Work Experience
At the moment the entry barrier for collaborating in software is incredibly low. Just a few internet tutorials and searching for some tools, you can try to do something fun. That could be a very small game, for example. There are also lots of open source projects looking for collaboration, which will give a better taste of what needs to be done and how. It’s just a matter of starting to collaborate.

Article by: Smart Furtures