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 Meany from Department of Education and Skills to give some advice for people considering this job:


Paul Meany

School Principal

Department of Education and Skills

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  Paul Meany

Need to have a belief about the value of the sort of education provided by the school to which you are applying.

Need to be able to cope with ambivalence - being leader in the school is not a black and white thing.

Need to believe in people, whether it is staff or students.


The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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Third Secretary- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

"All new Third Secretaries undertake language lessons and there are many more training opportunities." Carol Staunton, Third Secretary- Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade. 

I graduated from NUI Galway with a PhD in Sociology in 2013 and, after working for some time in the pharmaceutical sector, I joined the Institute of Technology, Tralee as a Research Assistant on the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Physical Education, Sport, Recreation and Fitness.

Working with various state agencies, international organisations and interlocutors on the programme prepared me well for life in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which began in March 2015 when I entered the diplomatic stream as a Third Secretary.

Since then, I have been assigned to the Department’s Trade Division, where I work on economic messaging and cultural relations. My role is varied and dynamic; I speak with colleagues abroad every day and meet with various national stakeholders with one goal in mind – to promote Ireland abroad.

The Department’s work in this area has contributed greatly to the signs of economic recovery that we are beginning to see, and being a part of that work has been a real education. While I am firmly focused on my current responsibilities, one eye is always on future postings abroad.

All new Third Secretaries undertake language lessons and there are many more training opportunities besides, which have enhanced my skill-set and my overall experience in the Department so far. It’s been a wonderful journey from the recruitment process to commencing my service, and I thoroughly recommend it. 

Article by: Carol Staunton