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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 Brian Macken from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:
I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.
I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.
But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould). However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.
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Paul Harding, Prison Officer
Paul completed his Leaving Cert and went to college to pursue his interests in science. After college he chose to join the Prison service, and has worked there since. The Prison service offers a great work / life balance and while challenging, provides Paul with many opportunities to progress his career.
I concentrated on science subjects in school as that was where my interest was at the time, but to be honest I don't feel that any subjects I took in school have had any great bearing on my job today. I feel that Life Skills are much more important for the work I do today.
I have done several years in college and have Certificates in Chemistry and Biology and a Diploma in Quality Management but I suppose the only way in which the science subjects help me in the Prison Service is that they taught me attention to detail.
A good standard of education is probably becoming more important in the future of the Service and computer skills would be an advantage, but I think the main skills required would be common sense, good communication skills and definitely a sense of humour!
Training courses are constantly taking place within the Service in many diverse areas such as Hostage Negotiation, Security Units and Dog Handling Courses. As yet I haven't completed any of these but they are on my list!
I'm participating in a college course at the moment, a combined venture between the Irish Prison Service and Sligo I.T. which I find challenging but very rewarding. Although I may not be actively partaking in training courses, I am very aware that while I am on the job I am constantly learning. I think the day I stop learning is the day I should leave.