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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 Peter Clifford from An Garda Síochána to give some advice for people considering this job:
|To get physically fit for the entrance tests and also for the demanding physical nature of the job. Also I would tell people to enjoy themselves before they join as it’s a job for at least 30 years.
I would also informl people about the variety of avenues people can get into when they have completed their training. There really is a career for every person regardless of where their interests lie. There is so many specialised units and prospects.
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Jason Ruane, Computer Programmer
Jason works as a Computer Programmer for Intel. He went to DCU (Dublin City University) to complete a BSc in Applied Physics, from where he went to immediate employment with Intel. Since then he has completed a Masters in Applied computing at DIT. Both courses have prepared him very well for his current position.
In secondary school I took Physics and Chemistry since I loved science. I also took Business Organisation but that was for the life skills it teaches rather than an intrinsic desire. I would gladly have enjoyed doing all the science subjects, to the complete detriment of all others but in hind-sight I am glad I took a subject such as Biz. Org. as it gave a rounding aspect to my secondary schooling.
I would have liked to have done Technical Drawing possibly but had to make a choice. I was only mediocre in German and Irish but again am glad I did them for at least secondary school as it challenged me and I did not get too narrowly focused on the technical subjects (there was plenty of time for that in third-level). In hindsight I realise that Maths was more important than I imagined and the two science subjects stood me in good stead. The choices I made for the subject selection was made by my passion for the sciences. Luckily I was afforded this leeway as the points for my intended course were not particularly high at the time.
For secondary school I attended St. Muredachs in Mayo, plenty of A's in Junior Cert, but only 1 in Senior Cert (didn't knuckle down properly there), somewhere in the 450 points region.
I only really got the best grades when I got to focus on my chosen topics later in third-level, getting first class honours degrees there. For my Bachelors degree: Applied Physics in DCU (1995 to 1999). I loved that course, it started with a wide spectrum of subject matter, including engineering principles, optical physics, programming and laboratory work, through to more focused topics such as plasma and quantum physics.
While working here I studied at Dublin Institute of Technology (Bolton St. 2004-2006) and did a part time Masters in Applied Computing. This was great since it gave me a more formal framework for my computing. The experiences at work had taught me much of the information which was actually covered in the Masters program, and happily, Intel sponsored my fees for this.
Within work I have completed a number of one-week courses which have been specifically targeted at topics of the day, such as C++ programming or Unix systems administration. Those courses have usually been in Ireland, but some were in Boston, Oregon, Manchester and Israel.
All the programming modules in both Applied Physics and Applied computing degrees were immediately valuable within my job. Within Applied Physics there were a number of electronics modules which proved invaluable and the basic understanding of material sciences also helped.
Training is always an ongoing agenda item - we even have it listed as a default priority item in our official schedule here. It may be of the form of online classes, or classes in-house where the company brings in professional trainers/lecturers to give classes and information talks; or it may involve traveling to attend a class specifically tuned to your next objective. For example, my next class is a two day session about digital electronics, which will be pertinent to my current programming project. On average training in some form or other occurs about 3 or 4 times a year.