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 Dowling from Teagasc to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Paul Dowling

Horticulturist

Teagasc

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  Paul Dowling
Ideally, try and get a job in the industry for a summer, or get a bit of experience before you go into it. You have to be happy with working outside, and doing physical work. If you are not prepared to work hard or are looking for a soft job, don't go into Landscaping. Design is very sexy at the moment, everyone wants to be a designer, a Landscape Designer. It's different on the ground, you have to be out there on sites in all weather and you have to make sure projects are managed well and you're able to muck in with everyone else. Biology is most important for anyone going into Horticulture or Landscaping as it covers propagation and helps with the identification of plant names, species and families through the universal use of Latin. Chemistry is also helpful as the use of various chemicals is a constant in horticulture. The chemical content and dangers of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides in use in Amenity Horticulture needs to be understood anyone going into this business. Geography would be a relevant subject as well. Also, the simple things like having a full, clean driving licence, which can make you a lot more employable if you are trying for a job with a Landscape Conractor. This indicates that you are more mobile and can also drive a company van if needed. Be sure you're happy with the outdoor life. Having taken a Horticulture course will give you an advantage. However, it's possible to take a job first and study later, e.g. in IT Blanchardstown it is possible to study at night. I think you cannot beat doing the Diploma Course in the National Botanic Gardens because it is a good practical course which also covers all the theory and is invaluable for gaining plant knowledge.
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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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Career Profile: Chef de Partie

"College gives you a good foundation, but you need to gain experience as well," Patrick Philips, Chef de Partie

Did you always want to be a chef?

No, I actually trained for three years as an architect in UL but I realised it was not my forte. I always had an interest in food though. My mum is Filipina and food is a big part of her culture. She is an amazing cook and I inherited my passion for cooking from her.

This is your third culinary course, have they helped your career?

There’s a bit of a debate among chefs about whether you learn more in college or in industry but I value the education side very highly which is why I have decided to study for my degree. College gives you a good foundation, but you need to get experience in the industry as well.

You’ve worked in some amazing restaurants, was it hard to get work?

Yes, I am in Glenlo Abbey Hotel now and in the past I worked with Aniar and Loam, Galway’s two Michelin-starred restaurants. I first got in contact with Aniar through social media. I used to tweet them pictures of food I cooked to show them what I was doing and see if it would open any doors for me, then I spoke to someone in college who arranged a two-day stage [work experience] with Jp McMahon, the owner. Afterwards they asked me to work weekends. GMIT is very well connected with the industry in Galway so that definitely helps when you’re looking for work.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a chef?

If you have a passion for food then it’s amazing to go to work every day and do something that you love. I’m always learning and trying to see how I can improve. The downside is that working in this industry can be exhausting. You work long, unsociable hours.

Do you get to have any fun?

The whole process is the fun part! I love the creativity of working with food, plus if you work with a good team you develop a rapport in the kitchen. You help each other out and have great craic together.

What’s your plan for the future?

My goal is to run my own fine dining restaurant but in the meantime I want to build up my experience. At the moment I am focused on developing my skills in all areas of the kitchen, then when I have ticked all the boxes I’ll look at opening my own place.

Article by: 'Get a Life in Tourism' Publication 2015