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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 Maria O'Neill from STEPS to give some advice for people considering this job:
If you like working with others, and like problem solving then its definitely worth considering. Do you ever look at a bridge/skyscraper etc. and wonder how they did that? Or better still, are you looking at the way the road at home is laid out and thinking if they had of done something differently it would have been better.
Engineering is not a career people think about and say its helping people, but in many ways it is rewarding and just as much about helping people. Engineers design things used everyday that help people get to work, provide clean water, provide sewerage systems, care for the environment....
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Brian O'Connor, Analytical Chemist
Brian O'Connor works as an Analytical Chemist for Wyeth. He joined the company as an Analyist working in the lab and has since been promoted to the position of Manager of the Raw Materials Lab. He did his a degree in Chemistry in Maryville College in Tennessee and then moved to the University of California Riverside where he completed his Masters of Science in Analytical Chemistry.
Because I didn’t do my leaving certificate in Ireland I didn’t have to make big choices earlier on in my life. It was when I went to college that I chose the subjects that I wanted to do. I chose to major in Chemistry and to minor in Biology as a Pre Medical School student. In America you have to complete a degree first before you are accepted into medical school. By my third year of college I fell in love with chemistry and no longer wished to go to med school. It is funny how it all worked out but I have no regrets about it. I really enjoy being a chemist.
I actually went to three different secondary schools. Moyle Park College in Clondalkin where I completed my Junior Certificate. Plantation High School, Fort Lauderdale Florida (1 Year) Hartselle High School, Hartselle, Alabama (2 Years) – High School Diploma. went to undergraduate in Tennessee in Maryville College where I did a degree in Chemistry and then moved to California to the University of California Riverside where I completed my Masters of Science in Analytical Chemistry.
Graduate school specifically was where I really learned to understand chemistry. Looking back now the majority of work as an undergraduate is an introduction to chemistry. The subject is so vast that you can only truly learn to understand aspects of it. I choose to be an Analytical Chemist which means that I did my initial research on instrumentation which involved building instruments such as Mass Spectrometers in grad school. My courses in analytical chemistry, notably around separation techniques, are still applicable to me today in my function and are most important to me in my job.
I have recently completed Green Belt training in Six Sigma Operational Excellence. HETAC award a certificate in Process Engineering for this course. The course trains you in advanced project management skills through six sigma methodologies. Six sigma is used in companies all around the world from Toyota to Wyeth. Project management is integral to the success of any company as you must manage your projects effectively for them to complete in a timely manner and to successfully deliver the outputs from it. I would like to one day go back and complete a Masters in Business Administration.