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 Mark Spain from An Garda Síochána to give some advice for people considering this job:
If you are unsure I would recommend coming to an open day in the college and if possible also doing the Garda Reserve. It gives the best insight imaginable into the work of Gardaí.
What are your interests?
Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalist's interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.
Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results and prefer action to talking and discussing.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
I decided to do a 3 year degree in Social Science UCC, Cork which was a clear cut route into the area of Social Work. I also decided to undertake this broad degree course as it would provide me with a variety of different options to pursue after completion of my degree especially in the event that I chose a different career path to Social Work as I got older!
I also chose this course as it provided an introduction to a variety of subjects e.g. Social Policy, Psychology, Sociology Philosophy, Law, Economics and other interesting topics pertinent to certain areas of society .eg. homelessness, social issues such as drug use etc.
In second year, I had to choose which subjects I wanted to specialise in for my degree which ultimately meant that the subjects in question would be focused on in more detail rather than in a generalised context.
In my final year of the degree, I was very determined that Social Work was the career I wanted. Hence, I then completed a two year Masters in Social Work in UCC in order to obtain a Professional Qualification as a Social Work Practitioner. I loved this course and felt like I had finally “come into my own”. Again, this course offers an array of subjects (such as Family Law, Psychology, Working with Children and Families, Policies and Legislation governing Social Work Practice etc.) and skill development based classes (e.g. development and use of counselling skills etc.).
Throughout this two year Masters, one is required to complete two student placements in the field of Social Work - one in a voluntary area, the other in a statutory agency – the student lists their preference in certain areas of Social Work. I worked firstly in a community development project and my second placement was in a child protection agency in a statutory setting on a specialist team working with children and families at risk where a parent(s) is a drug user.