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 Paul Harding from Civil and Public Service Jobs to give some advice for people considering this job:


Paul Harding

Prison Officer

Civil and Public Service Jobs

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  Paul Harding
Go for it. If you feel you may be suitable, then you probably are. An ability to not take yourself too seriously would be an advantage!

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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June Woulfe - Quality Processor

June Woulfe talks to Smart Futures about her career as a Quality Processor at Abbott Ireland, one of the country's leading health care companies.

What are the main tasks, responsibilities and skills required?

My job is to make sure that the test strips we produce are manufactured to a high standard and are made exactly as described in the procedures. Procedures are step by step instructions, drawings and specifications. The strips must do what the customer needs and give an accurate reading of the customer’s blood sugar level. People’s lives depend on accurate results.

Describe a typical day?

When the raw materials come into the company’s warehouse/ store, certain tests are carried out to make sure that it is acceptable for use. The raw materials then go through different processes. For each process paperwork is filled out to show the steps of that particular process; what was done, when it was done, how it was done and who was involved in completing it. My job is to review and check all the paperwork for each process/ step completed to make sure that everything is done correctly, according to the specific instruction/ procedures.

What’s cool about your job?

I like the company and the people I work with and have made many good friends. My confidence has improved greatly with the knowledge and skills I have learned over a number of years. What are the main challenges? Some of the work can be repetitive and starting off you can be working unsocial hours, for example night shift from midnight till 8am or weekends.

Who or what has most influenced your career direction?

Family member, my older sister worked for the company also. I participated in an employee development opportunity as a trainer, training new employees. I enjoyed this very much and realized that I needed to return to education if I was to make further progress in the company. Some of my peers were very supportive when I went to college for the first time as a mature student.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Yes mostly, starting off can be difficult for family life, depending on your shift. A lot of companies have a sports and social club and arrange social activities for families, children’s Christmas parties, family fun days, fun walk/run. Holidays abroad, weekend breaks and nights out for employees. Our company has a gym on site and Abbott support regular activities throughout the year and employees are encouraged to participate. Abbott Donegal has great opportunities for gaining skills, knowledge and experience and promotions.

What subjects did you take in school and did they influence your career path?

Today, the majority of people finish secondary school and go on to third level education. I left school at the age of 15, I had no idea what I wanted to do, apart from getting a job.

What is your education to date?

I went to St. Clare’s Comprehensive School in Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim. I was a very quiet, shy person and kept to myself a lot. I only spent two and a half years there. I felt invisible and no one paid attention to me or what I was doing. My first step to return to education was a basic computer course, (20 years after leaving school), followed by an advanced course and then the ECDL. I am also CTP Certified. This gave me belief in myself, that I can still learn and it greatly improved my career prospects. I went back to full time education in IT Sligo in my thirties and now have an honors degree.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

Definitely communications and the computer courses I did. Also my family, work colleagues, lecturers and tutors that believed in me, supported and encouraged me along the way.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

Good communication skills Able to work in groups or on your own Be able to listen to others views and opinions, give your views and opinions and give feedback Proficient IT skills Flexible approach to work Second level education is required for my current job. In order to gain promotion a third level qualification is needed. Willingness to get involved in projects.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Office, administration work, any manufacturing work experience.

PLC courses, or any training course that has work experience as a requirement of the course, and apprenticeships.

Article by: Smart Futures