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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 Brian Howard from Department of Education and Skills to give some advice for people considering this job:
This career involves working with people in a caring capacity. If you have no interest in helping people personally or educationally then this may be the wrong profession for you.
Empathy, patience and respect are important qualities for this job, in addition to be able to relate well to the person you are dealing with. As there is also a large amount of information to be handled in the job, good organisational, IT and time management skills are also quite important.
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Karl Stanley, Software Engineer
After his Leaving Cert, Karl went to Trinity College Dublin to do a degree in Mathematics. He then went on to compete a M.Sc in Computer Science and currently works as a Software engineer with ticket-text.com.
Mount Temple Comprehensive School - Inter/Leaving Cert.
Trinity College Dublin - B.A. (mod), Mathematics
Trinity College Dublin - M.Sc. Computer Science
Newpark Music Centre - Professional Musician Training Course (1 year) Guildhall School of Music London - Diploma in Jazz Performance
For my Leaving Cert. I took Maths - higher, Applied Maths - higher, Physics - higher, Chemistry - higher, Music - higher, English - higher, German - higher, Irish - ordinary As you can see my abilities and interests were more in the maths+science sphere than anything else.
I was very lucky that at the time Mt. Temple had very capable maths+science teachers, which certainly made things easier for me. To be honest, in school I didn't really think about 3rd level or careers or anything until I was in 6th year (by which stage I'd already picked my subjects). I just picked the subjects I enjoyed and felt I had a natural knack for.
For the career I'm in now I don't think I could have picked better school subjects. It might have helped me to know a bit more about business-related subjects, but I had no interest in accountancy or commerce at the time.
I am considering taking an evening course in the legal+financial aspects to running a business to make up for this. However, as a teenager I think I was better off studying subjects that I had a genuine interest in, otherwise I would have found it very hard to motivate myself to study.
I haven't taken any courses that are 'directly' relevant to my current job. However, as part of my maths degree I took courses in numerical analysis (i.e. computer programming as a tool for solving mathematical problems), operating systems design, computer graphics and machine vision. All these courses involved lots of practical programming assignments which gave me some real-world software engineering experience.
I did an. M.Sc. in machine vision while I had my first job with MVT. At the moment I'm not planning on doing any more formal training, but I think it's likely I will take a business-related course (perhaps an MBA) at some point in the future. I might wait until my kids are in school first!