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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 Mary Ita Heffernan from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:
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.
I recommend one tries to gain as much work experience as possible as it will provide you with valuable insight into your skills, ability, likes/dislikes for certain areas of employment!!!!
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Aoife Mc Dermott, Lecturer
Aoife McDermott works as a lecturer in Human Resource Management in Dublin City University. Having graduated with a BESS from Trinity College, she continued to complete a PhD and took the opportunity to join DCU at the time it entered into significant expansion.
In school I took English, Irish, Maths, French, Biology, Economics and Business. The fact that I enjoyed economics in school led me to the choice of my degree.
Luckily by taking what started out as a general degree I was able to figure out that what I liked about economics was being able to pose questions and look for solutions; the critical thinking component, rather than the content was actually the part that appealed most to me.
Through exposure to a variety of subjects in my first year in college I was in a much better position to chose the subjects that I wanted to specialise in.
Choosing to specialise in business and sociology worked well for me; the business component gave me a marketable knowledge base and skill set, while the sociology component encouraged me to think critically and introduced me to research skills.
I wouldn't do anything differently. It was great to be in a course where the classes got smaller as I progressed through, so I got a lot of guidance as I stumbled forward!
Choosing a specialised degree wouldn't have been a good choice for me at the time - I'm still amazed when I think of my friends who knew exactly what they wanted to do as they left school.
The biggest thing I learnt through my degree was that I had developed a skill set that I could use in a variety of ways. Having a degree in a specific area doesn't limit you to that for life!
I did the Business, Economics and Social Studies Degree in Trinity College.
My course choices meant that I graduated with a joint honours degree in Business and Sociology.
After my degree I started my PhD, also at Trinity. I have submitted my thesis, but there is a relatively long drawn-out process for completing PhD's. The thesis itself is an almost 400 page story about why I asked the questions I did, research to date in the area, how I went about collecting data to answer the questions, and what I found.
This is sent to an examiner from Trinity and an international expert in the area. They are given six weeks to read it, and agree a date on which the student and examiners, in addition to a neutral chair, come together to have a meeting about the work. This is called a viva, and the student has the opportunity to orally defend any questions about their work. Normally the examiners require some changes, and provide the student with 3-6 months to complete them.
In the first year of my PhD I undertook a postgraduate diploma in statistics. This was a year-long course, with classes two evenings a week. While my PhD was a qualitative piece of research - interview based - I felt it was important to have some formal statistical training to draw upon for other research projects that may entail surveys or other data that requires statistical analysis.
Undertaking the PhD proved essential in getting my job, and developed research skills that I will draw upon throughout my career. But I wouldn't be here if I hadn't enjoyed college. Going into college I didn't know what I wanted from life. While there I had really good fun, found it very interesting and was happy to stay!
I took the postgraduate diploma in statistics and the PhD after my undergraduate course. For the next year I'm planning to focus on settling in here and learning as much as I can from my teaching experience.
After that I would like to take a formal course to improve my teaching. There is a qualification in Third Level Teaching and Learning offered in Ireland, and an International Teachers Programme abroad. Either of those would be super.
In the meantime DCU offer courses to support lecturers, so I will be taking those from January. I would also like to undertake a professional qualification from the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, the body for HR managers. DCU offers courses accredited by the CIPD and a lot of the members of my group have this qualification. It's not essential, but it is something I would like to do.