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 Lynsey Gargan from STEPS to give some advice for people considering this job:


Lynsey Gargan

Manufacturing Engineer


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  Lynsey Gargan
With regard to education I say don't worry if you think you have the wrong subjects in school. I certainly didn't have the subjects you would typically expect.

There are a number of courses that cater to different backgrounds. The most important thing is to do your research. Go to open days, talk to the colleges and generally just find out what exactly you would be getting in to.

Don't just take for granted you know what a certain course or career is all about. Think about what you like to do, and not just necessarily in school, if you find yourself being curious about how things work or how thing are made, it's a good indication that you could like something like engineering.

One of the best things about engineering is that it really can be your passport to the world. There are great travel opportunities within the industry and chances to be involved in the next big thing.

Practically every man-made product around you came from a manufacturing plant, it's a huge industry with a lot of different avenues to take. Innovation is a really big part of what engineers do. The desire to be creative and improve production and processes is an important attribute for a manufacturing engineer.

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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Transition Year

Transition year is a time to learn more about yourself and develop life skills that will be important for you in the years to come. It is characterised by a combination of traditional classroom work along with activities designed to get you to work (and play) alongside your classmates. It's also a great year to check out what sort of things you are good at, and even check out possible career options.

Career Decisions

During TY and over the next few years you will gain experiences that will shape your career direction. You will have to choose what to study for the Leaving Cert, and at what level. You will then have to choose whether to continue your education after school or not, and what to study if you do. Everybody will make choices based on their circumstances, the opportunities that present themselves, their ambition and their goals. 

We ask all the people we interview on this site what were the main career decisions they took in their career so far. Read their stories below to become familiar with the real issues faced by ordinary people around Ireland, so that you will be prepared for the decisions that you too will have to make some day!

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. In Leaving Cert year, I identified Social Work as a very possible option that I wanted to pursue.

There were a number of factors which ultimately led to my final decision. Firstly: while in school, unfortunately an immediate family member became unwell and their illness necessitated intervention from a Social Worker with our family at that time. The Social Worker allocated to my family played a significant role in my consideration of Social Work as a career choice. I was so impressed by her professional and personal skills in terms of her interpersonal skills e.g. ability to relate to people respectfully, genuinely and honestly (even when it’s something one doesn’t want to hear!) and her ability to skilfully and appropriately counsel family members and the patient both individually and as a family group – all of which were carried out and conveyed in a professional manner.

I was very inspired by this lady. I also observed her interact with other patients and families and these observations further affirmed my opinion in this regard. It seemed to me that her job was for a very worthy cause as I had firsthand experience of her intervention and in general, I learned that Social Work is about working with people who are at their most vulnerable be it for whatever reasons.

Secondly, I decided to do a 3 year degree in Social Science UCC, Cork which was a clear cut route into the area of Social Work.  I then completed a two year Masters in Social Work in UCC in order to obtain a Professional Qualification as a Social Work Practitioner.

My voluntary experience (working in the community in community based projects and working with a telephone counselling service where I was in receipt of calls from the public) definitely helped me realise the areas of ‘people related’ professions that I had a desire to learn more about with a view to specialising and the areas of practice I did not want to pursue. 

Finally and notwithstanding the above, after my first year in practice as a Child Protection and Welfare Social Worker, I took a year out to travel – not because of the job by the way but because it was a longstanding dream!! During that year I did ever type of job going and after it all, I realised that the amount of effort and time I had invested in developing my skills and knowledge in the area of Social Work Practice – this was something I was not willing to ‘let go of’ and I knew that this was the area where I was more likely to achieve my potential. So here I am, back working in a Child Protection and Welfare setting and my travels are a very distant memory!

Hint: Health Service Executive

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