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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 Dave McDonald from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:
A caring attitude is essential for Health and Safety – you need to be passionate about getting the message across to people and telling them why it is so important. After all, no-one wants to see anyone suffer harm or be in pain.
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I attended Mary Immaculate Secondary School in Lisdoonvarna. Upon completing my Leaving Certificate I went on to attend the University of Limerick in 2001, where I studied and successfully completed the Bachelor of Business Studies with French degree.
One of the main aspects that attracted me to UL was 'Co-op'. Co-op allows a student to leave the security of college for an 8-month period and enter the real world of work. This gives a student a taste for the working world and for their chosen career.
For my co-op I could either work in Ireland in the Insurance sector, or I could travel to France for the 8-month period. I chose to work on my language skills and as a result I worked in Hotel Concorde Saint Lazare in Paris. It was a fantastic and enjoyable experience which really broadened my horizons.
In my current career I like the fact that I can continue studying also. Since joining New Ireland I have sat a number of exams - Pensions Foundation Course, QFA's (Qualified Financial Advisor) and the ACII's (specifically the Advanced Diploma in Insurance). These exams help develop and broaden your mind, keep you up to date with current regulations in the industry and of course give you a competitive edge over other colleagues. The company really supports and encourages continuous education.
When I originally joined New Ireland Assurance I underwent extensive training provided by our in house training unit - courses ranging from underwriting, understanding the product and commission structures that can operate within a pension scheme.
There is ongoing further training in this company. I am due to attend a course in the next few weeks called Personal Development and Career Management. This course is designed for those who wish to review their career and plan how to influence the achievement of personal / career goals. I also intend to sit the Pensions Diploma Course next year and from that, the Fellowship Diploma Course.
During Transition Year in school I had a great interest in Accounting and worked in a local accountants office for my work experience. I ended up working there for the following three summers - I even chose Accounting in 5th year because I enjoyed my work experience so much. However, by the time I sat the Leaving Cert I didn’t have the same enthusiasm for the career as I previously had. I enjoyed the work but I didn't think that as a career it would suit me.
I then applied for the Business Degree in UL because I knew I had an interest in the Finance/Business market. By doing this course I gained a further insight into a wide range of business related subjects. I didn't have to choose my major straight away, in fact I had until 3rd year to decide and by then I knew that accountancy wasn't for me and chose to major in Insurance.
I studied the required subjects of Maths, English and Irish, and then opted for Accountancy, Home Economics, French and Biology. I tried to choose subjects that I found interesting and would enjoy.
I chose French because I loved the language. After my Leaving Cert I then went on to study the Business Studies with French course in UL. This course had obvious career implications. I majored in Risk Management and Insurance and stayed on in the Insurance industry upon graduating by accepting a job with New Ireland Assurance.
I suppose the most important thing to remember is that although subject / course choices can influence your career direction; they are not the be all and end all.
There are so many avenues that students can go down after they leave school / college, the qualification is a starting point to get your first job and then the world is your oyster!