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 Mary Ita Heffernan from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:

Mary Ita Heffernan

Social Worker

Health Service Executive

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Mary Ita Heffernan

Whilst in secondary school, I changed my mind many a time regarding the career path I wanted to pursue! I always knew that I wanted to work with people but was unsure about the profession which would most suit my interests and skills in this regard.

While in school, I definitely found that being unsure about the type or area of work you want to pursue is a very difficult and confusing position to be in, especially given the array of career choices now available and the pressure one feels in trying to make one’s mind up.

To this end, I would strongly advise anybody in this position to research courses and job descriptions well in order to make the most informed decision possible at that time in your life. 

I recommend one tries to gain as much work experience as possible as it will provide you with valuable insight into your skills, ability, likes/dislikes for certain areas of employment!!!!

Also I would research the courses and job areas as much as possible so that you can make an informed decision regarding your choices. If you can't gain enough information in school, contact the college directly or arrange to talk to somebody who facilitates the course. In particular, it would be really valuable to talk to somebody in the profession to gain a realistic and practical insight into the job.

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Athlone IT - AIT

Athlone IT - AIT


Athlone Institute of Technology 
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Why study at Athlone Institute of Technology?

  • AIT graduates enjoy excellent career prospects. According to our most recent graduate survey, just 13% of graduates were seeking employment six months after completing their studies.
  • Large number of internships. A large number of AIT’s programmes feature internships or practice placements, which give students an ideal opportunity to put into practice the material they are learning in the lecture theatre, while simultaneously building relationships with potential employers.
  • More people complete their studies at AIT. Some 89% of honours degree students complete their degree at AIT, on a par with some universities and better than many other institutes of technology. This highlights the range of support measures which are in place in Athlone, including a dedicated peer support system for first year students.
  • AIT is a research and innovation-active institution. AIT has a proven track record in securing research funding and has received more than €23 million since 2000.

AIT has an attractive modern campus, which has received an investment of more than €100 million since 2000. The most recent projects to be completed are the Engineering and Informatics Building (€36m), the Research Hub (€2m) and the FIFA astro-turf pitch and IAAF-approved athletics track (€2m). Construction work is currently underway on a new indoor sporting arena (€10m), which is due to be completed in 2012.

Situated in the heart of Ireland, Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) offers students an education that equips them for career success. With a focus on real-world engagement, AIT’s approach to teaching and learning gives students the knowledge and skills sought by employers. This professional orientation is embedded across all faculties, through placements, project work and an applied research focus. AIT offers more than 100 full-time programmes from two-year sub-degree courses through to PhD, across its four schools of business, humanities, engineering and science.

This modern higher education institution has a state-of-the-art campus, the benefit of a €100 million investment since 2000. In addition to cutting-edge laboratories and lecture theatres, AIT’s sporting infrastructure boasts Olympic-standard indoor and outdoor facilities. Students from more than 50 different nationalities call AIT home, small wonder given the personal welcome they receive and the attention to ensuring that all students receive the very best education possible.

   QQI/FET Admission Information available here

Undergraduate at AIT
Undergraduate programmes at AIT are characterised by a real-world focus that equips students with the knowledge and skills sought by employers. This extends from curriculum content and project work through to work-based placements. Opportunities are available at sub-degree and honours degree level in engineering, science, business and humanities. Within each faculty, there is plenty to choose from.

Engineering provision is in a new state-of-the-art €36 million facility, with degrees available, for example, in cloud computing, game development, mechanical engineering, environmental engineering science, electronics and computer engineering, and civil engineering. The School of Science, too, has benefited from a multi-million euro investment in laboratories and equipment. A diverse range of opportunities is available, including biotechnology, pharmaceutical science, toxicology, audiology, health science with nutrition, sports science and sports therapy.

The Business School is renowned internationally for accountancy education, while programmes in business and management, digital marketing, entrepreneurship and innovation, and business computing help develop the business leaders of tomorrow. AIT is a pioneer in hospitality, tourism and leisure studies education, and graduates from these degrees are to be found working in some of the leading hotels and tourism locations internationally. The School of Humanities also offers degrees in graphic design and digital media, as well as social care and childcare.

Postgraduate at AIT
AIT offers taught postgraduate programmes in engineering, science, humanities and business. Taught programmes include Master’s degrees in business, accounting, an Executive MBA, child and youth care, advanced social care practice, polymer technology, software engineering, toxicology, and environmental, health and safety management, and intellectual disability nursing. Similarly, a number of postgraduate diploma and higher diploma opportunities exist in business, computing and nursing. Entry to postgraduate programmes normally requires either a first or second class honours primary degree in an appropriate discipline.

Research at AIT
Research opportunities are available through AIT’s three strategic research institutes in materials (MRI), bioscience (BRI) and software (SRI) research. Further research clusters exist within the four schools. The research institutes have developed international collaborations with leading multinational companies and universities in Europe, Asia and the US, and have attracted significant, multi-million euro funding. A new Research Hub includes the Graduate School, as well as purpose-built research workspace, seminar and social space. In 2010, AIT launched the President’s Seed Fund, which was worth €750,000 in its first two years. Under the initiative, some 30 MSc and PhD positions were funded. AIT enjoys delegated authority to award its own PhDs in the areas of polymer engineering, toxicology and microbiology.

Study Abroad at AIT
AIT students have the opportunity of studying for a period in one of our partner colleges overseas. The process is administered by the International Office in association with the student's home faculty. Permission must be sought and granted by the relevant head of department.

For example, students from the School of Engineering have availed of EU funding to enable them to carry out industrial training programmes abroad. The School of Humanities has developed mobility exchange programmes with universities in Canada and the USA in the fields of social care and child and youth care.

Links have been established by the School of Science with UK institutions such as Staffordshire University, University of London Royal Postgraduate Medical School and the University of Portsmouth. Student and staff exchanges have been set-up between AIT and the Institut Universitaire de Technologie (IUT), Rennes, France. Students from year three programmes in the School of Science can apply to study or complete placement for one semester at AIT partner colleges in the US at Daemen College, Buffalo; New College, Florida or Pitzer College, California.

Student Support Services at AIT
The institute offers a wide range of services to students. The Student Services Department is one of the first ports of call for students seeking information and help on any aspect of institute life. The range of services provided include tutorial support, careers, health, disability support, financial support, counselling and chaplaincy. The services offered continue to expand and are designed to help students obtain maximum benefit from their time at the institute.

The Careers Office at AIT provides career counselling to facilitate students in knowing and evaluating the possibilities available. Advice is available in terms of compiling CVs, cover letters and interview techniques, while the annual careers fair enables students to come directly in contact with employers.

Student services also coordinates the Peer Assisted Student Support (PASS) scheme, which encourages first year students to support each other and learn cooperatively under the guidance of a trained student from the second year of your course.

The free and confidential counselling service provides help and support if you are experiencing difficulties in relation to study or examinations, lack of confidence or self-esteem, unsatisfactory relationships, family difficulties, anxiety or depression.

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