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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Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and like commerce, trade and making deals. Some are drawn to sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or managing a section in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented, and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
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Supported Routes to College

Supported access routes to college are about raising third level participation rates among people from under-represented groups.

Two such initiatives for school-leavers who are applying to college through the CAO system are DARE and HEAR.

DARE is the disability access route to third level. It is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places on a reduced points basis to school leavers under 23 years old with a disability.

Full details of DARE.

HEAR is an admissions route into college for school leavers who, for social, financial or cultural reasons, are under-represented in third level education. Colleges participating in the scheme set aside a quota of places with reduced points and make these available to eligible students.

Full details of HEAR.

ACCESS Programmes and Courses

For school leavers or other people who can't get to third level by the traditional routes, many Universities and Institutes of Technology across the country offer an ACCESS course or programme of some kind. Those who successfully complete an ACCESS programme may then be able to apply to the college for a place on a third level degree course.

ACCESS courses aim to provide participating students with the skills and knowledge needed for undertaking a full-time third level course and to make the whole process of transition to third level much easier. They also help students to identify and choose the third level course that is best suited to their particular interests and abilities.

An ACCESS Course is typically designed for people whose background education was limited by socio-economic circumstance and educational disadvantage and to support them in overcoming these barriers and succeeding at third level education.


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