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 Elaine McGarrigle from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:

Elaine McGarrigle

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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Elaine McGarrigle

The most important skill that a person in my position can have is communication.

One needs to be able to communicate effectively with people of all levels in order to do a days work. I think that this is the most important quality, to be able to fit in well with people, everyone from the operators to the senior management, one needs to be able to read them and how best to communicate with them.

An interest in basic engineering and in the heavy machine industry.

It is important to realise that working as a mechanical engineer in Irish Cement does not generally involve sitting at your desk all day. It involves alot of hands on, on-site work so a person needs to be prepared to get their hands dirty.

Another quality that is important is to be willing to learn. Even after a number of years in college, one needs to be eager to learn the ins and outs of a new environment; how cement is made, what equipment is involved, what generally goes wrong and how it is fixed.

Everyone will help and teach you but you need to open your mind and be prepared to take it all in.


Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be drawn towards the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.
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CAO First Preferences July 2017 the ups and the downs

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CAO First Preferences July 2017 the ups and the downs

Monday, July 17, 2017 

CAO First Preferences July 2017  the ups and the downs

Figures released by the Central Applications Office show that by the 1st July 2017 CAO change of mind deadline, it received 71,595 first-preference applications for Level 8 honours degree courses, an increase of 307 (up 0.43 per cent) on last year’s total of 71,288.

Arts continues to be the most popular area of study, with 16,485 listing it as the top choice on their CAO application, representing an additional 390 applicants (up 2.4 per cent) on last year, also reversing the 3 per cent drop seen in 2016.

Business remains a strong course option with Administration and Business courses occupying second place in the popularity stakes and showing an increase of 203 applications (up 1.62 per cent) to 12,750.

Agriculture and Horticulture saw the biggest overall percentage increase this year (up 18.27 per cent), with 591 students selecting it as their top preference – an increase of 108 students on 2016.

Construction courses show an increase of 4.53 per cent on last year, reflecting continued confidence in the sector. Architecture too is up by 44 or 5.6 9 per cent.

Law course application numbers are up too, by 6.15 per cent, with an additional 173 applications compared to last year, likely to drive competition for available places.


Whilst applications for Other Health Care courses (includes Speech and Language therapy, Occupational Therapy, Nutrition) increased 219 (+8.89 per cent) to 2,464, there has been a significant 5.78 per cent drop in those opting for Nursing as their first choice this year. The numbers show first preference nursing applications to be down by 325 to 5,620, second only to the drop in Engineering and Technology (328).

Numbers applying to Human Medicine show a small increase - just 17 applications (up 0.58 per cent), indicating that points for medicine are likely to remain stable this year. Applications for Dentistry are up by 43 (13.8 per cent) and likely to make competition for places stiffer this year.  First preference applications for Pharmacy courses are down from 373 from last year to 349 in 2017 (6.88 percent).

STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and maths) have recorded a drop in interest. Science and Applied Science are down 171 (1.81 per cent); Engineering and Technology courses down by 328, a disappointing 4.14 per cent.

Education course applications are also down by 152 application (3.08 percent).

Level 7/6 choices

45,393 first-preference applications were received for level 7/6 courses, a decrease of 703 (down 1.55 per cent) on last year’s total of 46,096. The biggest decrease at this level was also for STEM courses - with Science down 258 or 2.47 percent and Engineering and Technology down 512 (5.65 percent).

What does it all mean?

Demand is generally a good indicator of whether or not points will increase or fall. Where there is significant growth in the application numbers for particular courses there is greater competition for each available course place, which will, in turn, translate into higher CAO points.

Where applications for a course drop or remain similar, CAO points will generally remain steady or may even fall. 

The CareersPortal Team