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:

 

Mary Ita Heffernan

Social Worker

Health Service Executive

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  Mary Ita Heffernan

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.

While in school, I definitely found that being unsure about the type or area of work you want to pursue is a very difficult and confusing position to be in, especially given the array of career choices now available and the pressure one feels in trying to make one’s mind up.

To this end, I would strongly advise anybody in this position to research courses and job descriptions well in order to make the most informed decision possible at that time in your life. 

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!!!!

Also I would research the courses and job areas as much as possible so that you can make an informed decision regarding your choices. If you can't gain enough information in school, contact the college directly or arrange to talk to somebody who facilitates the course. In particular, it would be really valuable to talk to somebody in the profession to gain a realistic and practical insight into the job.

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Realist?
Realist 
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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Adult Learner

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Students with Disabilities


If you are a student with disabilities, looking for advice and support for returning to education contact AHEAD.

They promote full access and participation in third level education for learners with disabilities also helping them gain employment after graduating. They provide an information service to learners and have developed information sheets and other key resources for learners.

They also have an excellent website www.ahead.ie which is a one-stop shop for information in terms of legislation, funding, learning supports, training, projects, work placements and assistive technology or you can call them on (0)1 7164396.

CareersPortal now have a Disability Guide that addresses many questions regarding a wide range of supports and information available for students with a Disability. To view: click here

Fund for Students with Disabilities

This fund allocates funding to further and higher education colleges for the provision of services and supports to full-time students with disabilities. Eligible students can receive assistance from the Fund from PLC level right up to doctoral level.

You do not have to be in the first year of a course to be eligible to apply for the Fund. Application for the first time can be made during any year of study on an approved course at further or higher education level. It allows colleges to provide specialised equipment and support the specific needs of a learner with a disability. Applications to the Fund are made on behalf of an eligible student by their college following an assessment of need. Contact the Disability or Access offices in your institution for further information.

Find out more about the Fund for Students with Disabilities: click here

CRC - Dr. Ciaran Barry Graduate Scholarship

The scholarship is reserved for a postgraduate student with a disability and is open to any academic discipline. Applicants must be graduates of a recognised University or third level institution. Candidates sitting their final examinations may also apply. A proposal must be submitted on a special application form, outlining the research topic, proposed methodology, timescale, expected outcomes and funding requirements. All proposals must have a significant research component.

All grants will, in general, cover one academic year. A longer period may be agreed if the study is deemed to warrant an extension. The continuation and termination of the scholarship will be at the discretion of the Trustees of the CRC Research Trust.

On completion of a research project/thesis, the recipient of the scholarship must submit a copy of the research project to the Trustees. All publications or papers arising from the research will acknowledge funding from the Trust. Recipients may be expected to participate in general publicity relating to the award of a grant. The scholarship is advertised in the public press in late February or early March with a closing date for completed applications in mid May.

For more information and application form: click here

The NUI Award Scheme for students with disabilities

Awards with a total value of €11,000 are available to new entrant undergraduate students registered for the first year of a primary degree programme of studies, in one of the constituent universities or recognised colleges of the NUI, and who have serious physical disabilities.

More details can also be obtained from the Disability Office in each of the NUI colleges (NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth and University College Cork) or visit www.nui.ie.

DCU Scholarship

DCU run a scholarship scheme which supports disabled students who wish to combine their academic course with their sporting interests. There is a limited number available; those eligible must have secured a place at DCU through CAO as a Leaving Cert student or as a mature applicant. The award aims to cover training, travel and coaching expenses and involves free access to the DCU sports complex.

For more information: click here

Google Europe Scholarship for Students with Disabilities

Google has partnered with EmployAbility, a nonprofit organization who assist students with disabilities while they pursue education and careers. Scholarships are awarded based on the strength of the applicant's academic background, leadership skills and demonstrated passion for Computer Science.

For more information: click here

Can an adult learner with a disability qualify for exemptions when applying to third level through the CAO?

Through the CAO it is possible to gain entry via the Supplementary Admissions Route. However it is important to note that entry criteria can vary from one college to another. Some colleges accept learners with disabilities who have achieved 15% below the set points for the course the year an application is being made. While the others may have another system in place and may assess each application on an individual basis. Unless a learner has an approved language exemption learners must obtain the minimum core subject entry requirements for their chosen course.

For more information: click here

What supports can a learner with a disability avail of once they have secured a place in third level?

Firstly it is important to note that many HEIs especially within the university sector now have designated Disability Officers in place who can provide information on a range of supports such as funding, accommodation, assistive technology and who generally implements the institutions disability policy. However in smaller institutions this work is often done by the Access Officers.

One of the most important things a learner with a disability can do in making their application is tick the box on the CAO form marked do you have a disability. This information will be given to the institution and they will be aware that they will need support upon entry. However all information given to the institution will be treated as confidential. It is also important to make arrangements in terms of examination facilities, and seek assistance and the relevant supports from the Disability Office/ Access Office at the beginning of your academic year. It may also be useful to make yourself known to your lecturers as they too may need to be aware of your circumstances.

With regards to mental health USI have also launched an innovative mental health awareness pack which has been disseminated to all HEIs as part of their Mental Health Awareness Campaign. This pack provides information to learners through postcards, stickers and bookmarks. Learners can obtain a pack from their Access Office.

Higher Education Authority Initiative - DARE

In 2009, The Irish Universities Association, Dublin Institute of Technology and partners, on a national basis, launched an access route for students who wish to progress to higher education. The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is for students with a disability.

For more information: click here

USI

The Students Union of Ireland (USI), Equality Officer has the responsibility of initiating campaigns for the defence and promotion of student's right in the areas of equality. The officer is responsible for running Equality Training Events and is the chairperson of Equality Working. Further information is available from the Equality Officer, USI equality@usi.ie or refer to the contacts section. The WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) Programme offers graduates with disabilities the chance to take up mentored work placements for up to six months in a variety of companies around Ireland. The placements offer graduates the chance to gain valuable experience and to pick up solid skills. All participants are paid the going rate for the work they do.

All WAM placements have a company mentor who helps graduates to settle into the workplace. This company mentor is the link between the WAM programme and the company. 

For more information on the WAM Programme and to register for current work placement opportunities: click here

  Hint: ESB
It has to be said that ESBI give excellent training. Along with mandatory in-house training, where ESBI engineers bring you up to speed on all aspects of power plants and their design and operation ESBI also provide great opportunities for external training, e.g. I have been on a training course in Amsterdam to upskill on gasification technology, I attended a conference in Pittsburgh to come up to speed with CO2 capture technologies etc.
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