My Graduate Life: Ellen McManus

Hi there, my name is Ellen McManus and I currently work as part of the Marketing & Communications Team in Waterways Ireland.

I came to be in this position thanks to the IBEC Global Graduates programme. This programme allows it participants to not only work and gain experience within their chosen sector but also provides the opportunity to achieve a post graduate level qualification.

Over my two years I was placed as a Marketing Executive in Waterways Ireland, which has given me an invaluable insight into the marketing side of tourism, while also completing  a postgraduate degree from TUD in Global Business leadership. After I finished the programme in August, I was thrilled to be offered a year extension to my contract with Waterways Ireland and have since begun working towards a Masters level qualification in Global Business. I’m hoping to continue my studies part time over the next year and fingers crossed graduate with my masters in 2021.


When I was in school, I didn’t really know what career I would like to pursue and made most of my subject choices based on subjects I enjoyed. Throughout this time, I also had a part time job in my local geopark where I worked as a tour guide and then onto a supervisory assistant. Through working in a fast pace and highly in demand tourist attraction I grew to love working in the tourism industry and meeting new people every day. This experience influenced my decision to apply for a degree in Geography from Queens University Belfast after I completed my Alevels. I really enjoyed my time in Belfast and completed my studies with a 2:1 degree.

Ellen studied Geography in Queens University Belfast.

After completing my final year in university, I took a year out working full time at the Geopark and then decided to travel with some friends around Asia. During this time, I began to learn a lot more about the marketing aspect of tourism and was really interested in developing my skills in marketing. I was unsure how I would be able to make the transition into marketing and tourism coming from a geography background. Luckily after some research on google I came across the IBEC Global Graduates programme. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain both a qualification and increase my experience within the industry.

Looking back choosing a marketing and communications undergraduate degree may have been better suited for my career path now… C’est La Vie!  However, I still gained a lot of experience and skills through completing  my geography degree which can be applied throughout my future career. Also, by obtaining my 2:1 it has opened doors to new opportunities, with many graduate programmes requiring you to have a 2:1 or above to apply. Many of these programmes also offer its participants opportunities to expand their education further and gaining master level qualifications.

IBEC Global Graduate Programme

The fact that the IBEC Tourism Graduate programme is recognised as Ireland’s longest-running and most successful graduate placement programme really caught my attention. Also as a recent graduate who was struggling to determine how I would enter into the marketing sector, the IBEC Tourism Graduate Programme seemed ideal as it gives its graduates an opportunity to gain experience through their placement within a well-established company and expand their qualifications with a postgraduate diploma in Global Business Leadership. Throughout the programme there are great opportunities to network both through the course in TUD and within your placement. These links are invaluable, and you can always tap into them throughout your further career!

Ellen works as part of the Waterways Ireland Marketing & Communications team.

I also found that graduate programmes ease the transition from college into working life. Gaining experience is invaluable, as one of the main struggles I found when carrying out my job search was that many entry level jobs require you to have a certain amount of experience. But how are you supposed to gain experience if you can’t get a job which allows you to get some? Also, many of these programmes will fund courses which may be a more feasible option for you as many master’s courses are very expensive.

Although studying and working fulltime can be difficult, the IBEC Global Graduate programme allows you to complete your course on a part time basis making it more manageable.

Advice for future graduates

With everything going on at the minute with Covid19, I understand that it’s a very difficult time for people taking those steps from college life into the working world. If I was to offer any advice it would be to firstly, put yourself out there and write to people on LinkedIn. When I was starting to look into the IBEC Global Graduates scheme I wrote to graduates who were already on the programme and asked them how they were finding it. Most people have been in your situation when beginning their career and more often than not would love to offer some guidance. Secondly, don’t put pressure on yourself. Very few people know what they want to get out of their career straight away. You have to try different roles to see what you enjoy or don’t like and develop your career accordingly. Thirdly, put yourself forward for any development training in skills you would like to progress. I have been very lucky that through my placement with Waterways Ireland I have been given training in areas I’m interested in and the team are always very approachable and invite me to get involved in projects which they think will be of interest. Finally, network and make friends with your work colleges and fellow classmates you never know how it might come in handy down the road.

I would like you wish all graduates the best of luck over the next few months as they complete their courses and begin to look at taking those next steps into the working world!

Ellen McManus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s