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 Fergus O'Connell from BioPharmachem Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:

Fergus O'Connell

Quality Officer

BioPharmachem Ireland

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Fergus O'Connell
A broad science background is very important. An ability to recognise small inconsistencies is equally important. For example do you recognise small discrepancies between different camera shots of the same scene in films and TV series?

An ability to question everything and think laterally is important. Also the ability to say 'no' (not everyone is comfortable doing this). Working in quality is not about being popular and definitely not about being a tyrant but one needs to be approachable, consistent and have good interpersonal skills.

Not all of your decisions are going to be popular but they need to be based on a sound rationale and you need to be able to support them. One also needs to be acutely aware of the fact that your opinion won't always be right.

One must always be open to being convinced of an alternative argument.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Private Practitioners

You may wish to consult with a private practitioner. Parents arrange for their child to attend a private Careers Guidance Counsellor for a number of reasons including wanting to ensure the best for their child, seeking a second opinion, securing more dedicated individual time for the young person or clarity on possible career and educational options. Private Career Guidance practitioners also offer additional assessments.

CareersPortal Guidance Counselling Service

What is Guidance?

“Guidance facilitates people throughout their lives to manage their own educational, training, occupational, personal, social and life choices so that they reach their full potential and contribute to the development of a better society.” (National Guidance Forum Report 2007)

CareersPortal provides a professional guidance counselling service for students and adults who would like support in making career, educational and/or employment decisions.

This service is of particular benefit to career changers, jobseekers, students and those looking to explore their career and education options.

To book an appointment contact or phone: 01-2090797. All guidance counsellors are fully qualified professionals and members of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors.

The IGC website has a list of fully qualified Careers Guidance Practitioners. Only fully qualified guidance counsellors can be listed in this register. When you are looking for a private practitioner it helps to bear the following guidelines in mind:

  1. Are they listed in the IGC register
  2. Qualifications – Degree & Post Graduate, Guidance Diploma (mandatory), Psychometric Testing, Level A Testing British Psychological Society = Mandatory) PSI,
  3. Are they convenient to your area
  4. Look for word of mouth recommendation
  5. Experience - how long they have been practicing and do they specialise in working with particular clients – e.g. clients with disability, Psychometric Testing, UCAS  applications (entry to UK colleges), career coaching
  6. Some private practitioners now have LinkedIn profiles or websites. This can be a useful way of learning a bit more about them.


How to prepare fo an appointment with a private careers guidance advisor

  1. It’s no harm to shop around. Private Careers Practitioners are more than happy to chat with you about what might best suit your child. They may also refer you on to a practitioner that specialises in specific tests or areas of expertise.
  2. If they are listed on the IGC website, this means that the Careers Practitioner is qualified and that their registration is up to date. They should also hold Level A qualification in Psychometric Testing from the British Psychological Society and be registered on the RQTU (Register of Qualifications in Test Use) They will have Garda Clearance and Professional Indemnity.
  3. Some practitioners ask that parents accompany 2nd level students to appointment.
  4. Some practitioners look for a recent school report, DATS results, additional learning support information and / or subject exemptions.
  5. If you are requesting a careers assessment or psychometric test – you can find out which tests are used and see if they are the best ones for your son or daughter, what reports, feedback and follow-up support are given as part of the service.
  6. Establish the broad purpose of the consultation beforehand. Find out what’s achievable and what’s deliverable. 
  7. Find out how many sessions will be needed and what the costs are.
  8. Establish whether or not you will be involved in the feedback process and in the outcome of test and assessment results. Some parents wish to be involved in the process. Others don’t.

What is Career Coaching and would my child benefit from it?

Career Coaching is focussed on helping your child to identify and reach their goals. A Career Coach works with clients to help them achieve career and employment goals. They work with people in building new careers and managing existing careers, making career choices or managing career change. They can focus on using a specific coaching model that is often goal focussed – e.g. GROW (Goals – Current Reality – Options – Will)

Qualifications vary and many good and inspirational coaches have come from a particular business or occupational background, followed up with some additional training in Coaching.  Some Career Guidance Counsellors are also Career Coaches and many Guidance Counsellors employ age appropriate elements of Career Coaching in their work with teenagers. Schools sometimes employ Career Coaches to deliver goal-setting workshops to groups of students.

If you decide to seek out the services of a career coach it helps to establish if they have a particular area of careers development expertise and how it will support your son or daughter through the process of choosing the best career and educational path for them. As with Careers Guidance Counsellors, establish what their qualifications are and if they have all the necessary Garda Clearance and Professional Indemnity paperwork in place.


As the parent or guardian, you are uniquely placed to know what type of careers support is best for your child. There are plenty of options available. Finally remember your primary role as Career Coach, Guidance Counsellor and Mentor to your child.

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