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 Peter Clifford from An Garda Síochána to give some advice for people considering this job:

Peter Clifford

Probationer Garda

An Garda Síochána

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Peter Clifford
To get physically fit for the entrance tests and also for the demanding physical nature of the job. Also I would tell people to enjoy themselves before they join as it’s a job for at least 30 years.

I would also informl people about the variety of avenues people can get into when they have completed their training. There really is a career for every person regardless of where their interests lie. There is so many specialised units and prospects.

The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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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!

There have been four events which have shaped my career.

The first was my decision to undertake a broad degree course. I initially made this choice as I enjoyed economics in school and one route to undertake a degree in pure economics was through the Business, Economics and Social Studies degree in Trinity.

I chose this course as it provided an introduction to a variety of subjects, before I had to choose which to specialise in during my second year. When I went into this degree I found that I was actually much more interested in people than in economics, and I ended up undertaking a joint-honours degree in Business and Sociology.

Sociology is really the study of society - describing and explaining all the things that people get up to! Having exposure to an array of subjects before choosing my degree focus completely changed the direction of my career.

Fortunately a lot of university courses allow significant choice - the Business course in DCU, for example, provides the opportunity to specialise or part-specialise in Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Law, e-Business and Management or French, German and Spanish. So if you are unsure like I was, it's worth going into a course with some room for manoeuvre.

The second event to shape my career was that I undertook the Foundation Scholarship Exams in Trinity. These are optional exams (yes, yes, very nerdy!) over the Easter break in second year, or third year in medicine. They are open to students in all degree courses in Trinity. On the basis of these exams I was awarded a scholarship, which lasted for five years. This covered my fees, accommodation in Trinity and an evening meal from Monday - Friday.

Living on campus allowed me to put significant effort into doing well in my degree, without sacrificing too much fun! In conjunction with the fact that I undertook a degree course with relatively small classes, this brought me to the attention of the lecturers in Trinity and I received significant support and encouragement from them. In third year I met the person who would later supervise my PhD. Mary taught me HRM and was Director of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning at that time. She helped me to figure out my strengths and how I could develop them.

The third major event to influence my career was the award of scholarship to complete my PhD by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS). This came with the illustrious title of being a Government of Ireland Research Scholar! I had considered going abroad to undertake my doctorate, but this award, in conjunction with my Trinity scholarship, provided significant incentive to stay. My family also emphasised the value of completing my PhD in an institution where I was known, supported and mentored - and that has proved to be invaluable.

Finding a supervisor who took a personal interest in my development and who has supported my interests has had a hugely positive impact on the course of my career and my value system. The IRCHSS award let me complete my doctorate on a full-time basis, which was quite a luxury.

The fourth important event was spending six months in the UK, working with a renowned Professor in Health Services Research, Louise Fitzgerald. My supervisor organised this for me. I learnt a phenomenal amount in working on a research project and developed a lovely network of friends and colleagues, with whom I still liaise. That time away developed my confidence, research skills and gave me a lovely support group to refer to throughout my PhD. Crucially it made me realise that while working in a university can be a relatively solitary route, there are huge opportunities for collaborative work.

Hint: Department of Education and Skills

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