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 Kerrie Horan from Intel to give some advice for people considering this job:

Kerrie Horan

Engineer - Process


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Kerrie Horan

A day for a Process Engineer at Intel can range from spending all day in what we call our 'bunny suits' or space suits as most people would recognise them as or a day of juggling meetings with working on long term projects that have a quality improvement for your product or have a cost saving for the factory. The key thing is to be adaptable, be organised and be able to communicate your plans clearly and concisely. You will be your own boss in many instances as an engineer and it is up to you to get the job done and do it well, while at the same time meeting goals and challenges that are set for the factory.

The great thing about a process engineer at Intel is that much or your work can be done remotely, which means you don't have to sit at your desk all day allowing you to get in to the machines and get stuck in. One should also be aware that you will be continuously learning in this sort of environment. Because our technology is so up to date we are always making changes to make this possible. Our products will range from mobile phone chips to top of the range computer chips so we need to be able to make changes to meet the demands of what the market is looking for.


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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Leaving Cert 2017

Money Matters

The cost of a third level education is considerable. Parents may be torn between wanting to do the best for their son or daughter and keeping a firm rein on the family and household finances. Students too may be concerned about the financial burden.

Seeking the advice of friends or relations that have been through the college experience is invaluable at this stage. However, practical planning, a realistic budget, foresight, and common sense are also important.

In the section below we address some of the questions parents and students often ask at this time. See also Grants & Finance.


How much is it going to cost?

Talking through the financial implications, as you judge appropriate for your family, is always helpful in working out a realistic budget for the months and years at college. Here are some pointers:

Registration Fee

Colleges charge an annual student contribution commonly known as a Registration Fee or Student Contribution Charge, which all students must pay*. It covers student services and exam fee costs.

The amount of the student contribution varies from one institution to another. The standard rate is currently €3,000.

Tuition Fees

Most undergraduate students attending publicly funded third-level courses do not have to pay tuition fees, as these come under the terms of the Free Fees Initiative. The tuition fees are paid directly to the college concerned by the Department of Education and Skills. 

PLC Courses

Charges for Post-Leaving Certificate courses (PLCs) operate under slightly different rules. Registration fees apply, but there are no fees for tuition. Students are liable for a €200 participation contribution, imposed on all PLC courses. The following categories of student are exempt from paying the contribution:

  • Full current medical card holders in their own right and their dependent children.
  • Those who are eligible under the student grant Scheme
  • Those in receipt of the Back to Education Allowance or VTOS allowances.
Students must also cover the cost of the various student services - examination fees, insurance, registration charges, books, and where required - uniforms and specialised equipment. 

Private Colleges

Free fees do not apply to courses in private colleges, whether they have Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) approval or not. The fact that a course is listed by the Central Applications Office (CAO) is not, in itself, enough to make it a free fees course.
Private colleges charge full tuition fees. For exact figures check individual college websites.

[See also SUSI Grant Scheme and check if Fees are Tax Deductible]

Accommodation Costs

For students who are likely to be living away from home, on-campus accommodation, student villages or halls of residence are often the best choice for 1st year, as these offer a comfortable bridge between home and the independence of living in a flat or apartment. Check individual college websites for details.

Living Expenses

Students will also need to budget for weekly living expenses for an academic year (a nine-month period from September to May). 

Things to consider: rent, supermarket shopping, meals on campus, electricity/heating bills, refuse bills, parking fees, mobile phone costs, travel, clothing, snacks on campus, socialising, health, books and materials,
laptop, course related travel and field trips, Erasmus year or internship abroad. 

Check out this student budget calculator

Parents that have been through the process suggest it’s a good idea to be prepared for a few unexpected expenses along the way.

Student Loans

Some colleges are now offering student loan systems (e.g. TCD ) which are designed to ease the burden of payment for the student contribution charge.

Note: *If you are getting the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) you may qualify for exemption from the student contribution. 

Part time job or not?

This is ultimately up to the individual young person. Many college courses involve intensive programmes of lectures, practicals, study and assignments, leaving just about enough time for sports & leisure activities and some socialising. The additional income from a part time job is always welcome in a student pocket but the longer term focus will be on achieving a good degree and drawing the maximum benefit from college life.

Developing a solid batch of employability skills while at college is important however and if the student can access relevant internship or paid work that directly links into their career plans or gives them the chance to put learning into practice, this can be a valuable asset in CV and job application terms further down the line.

How can we establish if our son / daughter is eligible for a grant?

Students can check if they are eligible for a grant using the SUSI ready reckoner available here. If eligible, application for the grant is through SUSI. 

SUSI stands for Student Universal Support Ireland. Students who are eligible for a grant under the scheme may qualify for a maintenance and a fee grant. 
Eligibility for a grant is calculated on the basis of family income. Several factors are taken into account and the system is designed to be as fair as possible. 

View quick guide to How SUSI operates.

All the information you need is at

Advice: Watch out for grant application deadlines and securing the correct documentation in time. [More]

We are not eligible for a grant as we are just slightly over the income limit. What financial supports are there in this case?

Watch out for college scholarships, funding programmes and a range of additional financial supports in college. You will find information about these on college websites and at the section on 'Grants & Scholarships' and visit  Student Finance for more information.

Some banks such as Bank of Ireland offer a 'College Finance Loan' to parents or guardians of students to borrow each year, the cost of their son or daughter’s Student Contribution Charges. The total amount required depends on the duration of the course, ranging from 1 to 4 years.

Is it true that having to repeat a year at college will incur the full tuition fee for the repeated year?

Unfortunately if a student fails a year, they are liable for the cost of full tuition fees for the year they must repeat. Full tuition fees are significantly higher than the standard registration fee.

This is another reason why a part time job might be a false economy in some instances. In the final analysis, graduates with strong degrees earn significantly higher incomes over the course of their working lives.

What about Post-graduate fees?

Students are increasingly opting to continue into post-graduate education where there is a different fee structure. Again this is something to keep at the back of your mind and it may need discussion and planning further down the line.

For now – enjoy the experience of having a college student in the family. It’s another rich and priceless perspective on life!

How do we apply for the Maintenance Grant?

There is a single grant awarding authority for all Further Education (PLC) and Higher Education (Undergraduate) courses called Student Universal Support Ireland - also known as SUSI.

Eligibility for a grant is calculated on the basis of family income. Several factors are taken into account and the system is designed to be as fair as possible. 

Students can check if they are eligible for a grant using the SUSI ready reckoner available here. If eligible, application for the grant is through SUSI. 

View quick guide to How SUSI operates.

All the information you need is at 

Advice: Watch out for grant application deadlines and securing the correct documentation in time. [More]

Ten Top Tips for Grant Application

  • Where possible, complete the grant application together with your son/daughter, parent/guardian.
  • Have your PPS number to hand (Student and Parent)
  • You will also need accurate information relating to your income for previous year e.g. P21 / P60.
  • Timing - Apply As soon as possible - applications open in early April and remain open all summer and into the beginning of the college term. You will need to contact SUSI for late grant application details.
  • It is possible to apply for a grant before final selection of course or college.
  • Set aside a suitable time to complete the form. It takes less than half an hour to complete.
  • Once the form is submitted, it will not be possible to make changes.
  • Establish the correct category of student (dependent students are assessed on parents' income).
  • Establish the correct family income band.
  • Remember there are two separate grant maintenance rates:
    • Adjacent rate - this is for students living less than 45 kilometres from the college they plan to attent
    • Non-adjacent rate - this is for students living more than 45 kilometres away from the college
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