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 Tomas Flanagan from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:
I would advise anyone interested in Occupational Therapy to read up on the profession or else try to meet a qualified Occupational Therapist and talk to them about their work.
The internet can be a great resource in getting information. Also information from the universities might indicate if this is a course that is suited to you. A lot of the course work relies on you being a self-directed learner. This makes the course different to other more mainstream/academic courses as the onus is on the student to complete a lot of work independently.
As this is a caring profession an interest in working with people is a must. You also need to be a good communicator as you will be working closely with clients, families and other staff on an ongoing basis.
Organisational skills are essential to enable you to manage a caseload.
What are your interests?
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.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Subjects in school: Physics, Higher Maths, (handy, but not vital, if you wish to pursue a degree - you can still do a cert (NQF Level 6) or Ordinary Degree (NQF Level 7) with pass maths), Agricultural Science, French (a language is a must if you wish to attend most universities).
Advice is to choose courses based on the subjects you like, don't choose a course just because you are told to do a certain course in college. Pick subjects you like and are good at and then make a career choice based on that.