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 Elaine McGarrigle from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Elaine McGarrigle

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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  Elaine McGarrigle

The most important skill that a person in my position can have is communication.

One needs to be able to communicate effectively with people of all levels in order to do a days work. I think that this is the most important quality, to be able to fit in well with people, everyone from the operators to the senior management, one needs to be able to read them and how best to communicate with them.

An interest in basic engineering and in the heavy machine industry.

It is important to realise that working as a mechanical engineer in Irish Cement does not generally involve sitting at your desk all day. It involves alot of hands on, on-site work so a person needs to be prepared to get their hands dirty.

Another quality that is important is to be willing to learn. Even after a number of years in college, one needs to be eager to learn the ins and outs of a new environment; how cement is made, what equipment is involved, what generally goes wrong and how it is fixed.

Everyone will help and teach you but you need to open your mind and be prepared to take it all in.


The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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Importance of reading all Sections of the CAO Form

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Importance of reading all Sections of the CAO Form

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 

Importance of reading all Sections of the CAO Form

Writing in the Irish Independent this week, Guidance Counsellor Aoife Walsh gives advice on important sections of the CAO form which students may not be conscious of at this early stage, but which are very are relevant to many applicants.

SUSI - grant application

The first section on the account home page which is not related to courses, but which must be attended to, concerns SUSI, the organisation responsible for processing grant applications. This section is very easy. The CAO is simply seeking permission to share an applicant's information with SUSI. Ticking the box will allow SUSI to know if the applicant has been offered a place, if they have accepted a place and which institution they will attend, ensuring that the grant application proceeds as smoothly as possible, so there are no delays in autumn. CAO applicants may not yet be sure if this section is relevant to them, but if they are considering applying for a grant, they should tick this box just in case. Applicants and their parents may wish to use the eligibility reckoner on to explore whether they are likely to qualify.

SUSI itself will begin accepting applications in late spring/early summer.

Learning difficulties

CAO applicants will be asked to indicate if they have a disability or a specific learning difficulty. The purpose of this section is to allow the college to be aware that an applicant may have some needs. If the applicant decides to declare a disability or specific learning difficulty then the college is likely to contact them for more information, but it is up the applicant whether or not to accept this support.

The supports offered by colleges for those with disabilities or learning difficulties are both practical and much easier to access than at second level. I would highly recommend all applicants who fall into this category to indicate it on the CAO form. This will allow the applicant to find out more about the supports on offer; they can then choose to access these supports, or not.

Once an applicant has indicated that they have a disability or a learning difficultly they will then see an option to apply for the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE). This is a reduced points entry route and completely separate from the support that institutions offer. We will explore DARE further next week.


There is also a section about the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) scheme, a reduced points entry route for students who come from an educationally disadvantaged background, the first criterion for which relates to income. If an applicant does not qualify for the HEAR programme they may skip this section. We will explore the HEAR programme further next week.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin


The CareersPortal Team