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Paul completed his Leaving Cert and went to college to pursue his interests in science. After college he chose to join the Prison service, and has worked there since. The Prison service offers a great work / life balance and while challenging, provides Paul with many opportunities to progress his career.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
I don't really have one specific person but had spoken to friends in the service prior to joining and through them I thought it was a career path I might like. Once I joined and began working I found that the established officers were a huge help to me and a great influence on the way I carry out my duties.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I saw the notice in the paper in early '07 and applied online via publicjobs.ie. I was called for psychometric testing which I managed to pass, and this was followed by the interview itself. This was both a regular panel-type and also a group interview.
After passing this I was sent for a medical and I began training shortly afterwards. This consisted of 9 weeks in the Training Centre in Portlaoise after which I was assigned to Cloverhill Prison.
Describe a typical day?
I suppose the only typical thing about my day is just how untypical it is! Not only are no two days the same but I could safely say that no two minutes are the same.
I report for Parade at 08.00am where I receive my detail for the day. I report to the Officer in charge of this detail where I'm given my post for the day. This could be anything from standing on a landing to working in the surgery, the gym, the school or the laundry.
We may also be detailed escort duty where we bring prisoners to Court, Hospital or prison-to-prison transfers.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
What are the main challenges?
One of the main challenges is that every day is different. The situation can change at any minute and I must remain alert and ready to deal with any situation as and when they arise. Also, it can be a challenge to leave my personal troubles at the gate and not to carry any worries or moods with me into the job.
The hours are a definite plus. I work 5 days one week, with 2 days off then 5 days off with 2 days on. Every second weekend is a long weekend so is ideal for spending time with family or for weekends away.
The variety of the job is another very good aspect, no two days are the same. From a financial point of view we are well taken care of. We work long hours in a demanding environment but are well paid to do so.
The promotional prospects are very good. All ranks within the service began on the landings so promotion up the ranks is very achievable.
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
I think the most important skill someone could bring to this job would be common sense combined with good communication skills in order to diffuse situations, and a sense of humour. The ability to take a mental step-back before responding to an incident can be an important skill to learn as an extra second of analysis could completely alter how you would respond to a specific situation. Consistency in dealing with people and the ability to be firm but fair are also very important.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
What is your education to date?
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
What is your dream job?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
For me, the lifestyle suits me very well. Our working life is based on maximum time on versus maximum time off so it means that when I'm not working I can get things done. It's very useful for people with small children or simply for dropping the car to the garage.
There is excellent job security which means one less worry and one advantage of our roster is that I can tell for years to come when I'm on duty and when I'm off.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Training courses are constantly taking place within the Service in many diverse areas such as Hostage Negotiation, Security Units and Dog Handling Courses. As yet I haven't completed any of these but they are on my list!
I'm participating in a college course at the moment, a combined venture between the Irish Prison Service and Sligo I.T. which I find challenging but very rewarding. Although I may not be actively partaking in training courses, I am very aware that while I am on the job I am constantly learning. I think the day I stop learning is the day I should leave.